On September 8th, PIAC was invited by the CRTC to represent consumers' views at a hearing held by the CRTC regarding the 'skinny basic' service which was implemented by all Canadian TV providers earlier this year. The hearing served as somewhat of a follow-up on the direction of TV over the last few months.
Air Miles accumulated before 2012 are set to expire at the end of 2016 as Air Miles implements a 5-year expiration policy. As a consequence, consumers struggle to redeem their reward miles before the deadline. PIAC suggests a few silver linings for this cloud of consumer discontent.
Telecommunications service providers are supposed to ensure customers were made aware of CCTS and the independent dispute resolution service they offer through various methods. PIAC asks whether this is happening consistently. The conclusion is communication service providers, the CCTS and the CRTC can do more to raise public awareness of the CCTS going forward.
PIAC discusses the public awareness challenge facing the CCTS, an organization Canadians can approach if they have an unresolved complaint with their telecommunications service provider.
Giving affordable access to essential services is one of the cornerstones to building opportunity for low income Canadians. Currently, there is a question about whether broadband internet is an essential service, like electricity and heat. The CRTC is holding a "Review of Basic Telecommunications Service" proceeding (which we here at PIAC call the "Basic Service" hearing) to decide this question.
As of March 1st, 2016, all subscription TV (cable, IPTV, satellite) providers in Canada will have to offer a 'skinny basic' package, and the option to add on, at least, smaller packages of up to 10 channels or, at their option, à la carte pricing of channels – known as “pick and pay” (true pick and pay for all TV service providers will be required in December 2016).
The annual “Prime Time in Ottawa” conference hosted by the Canadian Media Production (or is that “Producers”) Association kicked off yesterday and PIAC’s Executive Director, John Lawford, attended. The conference brings together media producers, distributors and regulators.
The mood was quietly fearful. The CRTC’s Talk TV suite of decisions are now heading into the first phase with required skinny basic packages required to be offered by TV distributors as of 1 March 2016. Almost everyone expected this to cause much pain for producers as distributors lost revenue as consumers trimmed TV packages to the skinny offering. Pick and pay, which is the other shoe to drop from the Talk TV decision, does not fully come into force until December 2016. However, it already is the subject of much uncertainty, which participants said was additive to the largest concern: the non-contribution of “over-the-top” (OTT) services to the Canadian Media Fund and other funds dedicated to supporting Canadian production.
The trouble with this poll is how it treats the Canadians that do not subscribe to the internet. The summary of the poll states "The Digital Divide is often seen as being driven primarily by income inequality but, in fact, lack of affordability is only a barrier for a fraction of Canadians". Not so fast.
PIAC outlines recent changes to the value of a popular loyalty program currency and asks, is it now time for Canadian policymakers to consider drafting rules to protect consumers from the devaluation of loyalty currency.
Affordability is perceived in differently depending on who you are. It’s not easily defined, but PIAC has made the effort to identify what ‘affordability’ can mean to some Canadians.