CRTC: No to Fee-For-Carriage

I don't think that the broadcasters deserve extra money from the cable carriers.

The cable companies are providing me a service, that is access to a signal of better quality than I can get over the air. For that, I pay.

On the other hand, the cable companies are providing local broadcasters with access to an audience beyond their ability to directly broadcast over the air to, in effect increasing their audience and the value of the commercial airtime that they sell. They do this for free -- in any other business model, the cable companies would charge the broadcasters for carriage, to monetize the extra value that they bring to the local broadcasters.

Witness what happened when the WNPE/WNPI PBS station was almost dropped by the Ottawa cable company. It would have devastated the PBS station. The station reported that Canadian contributions made up 70% of their pledge revenues. Given a choice, I am sure that PBS would have paid a fee to be carried on the Ottawa network.

The fact that cable companies make money reflects the fact that they provide a service that has value to their customers. The fact that broadcasters are losing money reflects the fact that their audience is shrinking due to increased competition for their attention.

I don't see why I as an end-viewer should have to pay extra to compensate some broadcaster for their inability to attract my attention.

And it will be me as the end-viewer who pays the extra fees. The cable companies would be well within their rights to pass on increased costs to viewers. If such a rate increase costs them subscribers, then everyone loses -- both the cable companies and the broadcasters.

If I am going to be required to pay a per-household fee for these channels, I should have the ability to pick channels a la carte -- why should I pay for channels I don't watch? But even this in the end affects the cable companies, since it will lower their revenues. If revenues drop, profits will drop, and eventually prices will rise.

I remain unconvinced by these "Local TV Matters" commercials telling me what a good thing it is that such-and-such a local interest has access to a local broadcaster to get their message out. The issue isn't about access to a local audience -- it is about who is going to pay for the platform providing access to that audience. And while these local interests are beneficial in the long run for the community, it does not change the fact that I as a cable subscriber am going to have to pay for that platform they use.