CRTC Television Service Provider Code takes effect from September 1: A Step in the Right Direction

PIAC welcomes the CRTC’s decision to implement the Television Service Provider Code (Code), allowing Canadians to make well-informed choices. CCTS, an independent ombudsman, will now review consumer complaints about TV subscriptions.

The Television Service Provider Code is a mandatory code of conduct for most television service providers (TVSPs).

How would it help Consumers?

From September 1, 2017, TVSPs must give consumers clear information about their products, services and pricing. Specifically, by providing:

  1. A “critical information summary” with a copy of the written agreement in plain language- including a list of channels or packages subscribed to, monthly costs, contract duration, and complaints filing procedure
  2. Information as to the duration and conditions attached to any promotional offers
  3. Information as to the charges and time it would take to do any installations and repairs
  4. Thirty days’ notice for any price changes
  5. A trial period for Canadians with disabilities

Consumers are encouraged to carefully read these agreements. Before signing, get clarification from the TV Service Provider to avoid any confusion. Consumers should note that, unlike the Wireless Code, the TV Service Provider Code provides few substantive rights, and instead focuses on making the TV service provider offers more transparent. Therefore, consumers should be vigilant and carefully compare the services before subscribing. The major benefit of the TVSP Code, outside of improved information, is consumers’ ability to bring complaints about bundled services.  (TV sold with internet and for wireless or wireline telephone) to the CCTS (See below).

What can Consumers do to resolves disputes?

PIAC has actively advocated for an independent ombudsman to handle consumer disputes with their television service providers. We are pleased that now, if consumers are unable to resolve any issue with their TV Service Provider or telecom provider, they can complain to the Commission for complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS).

The CCTS is an independent organization committed to help customers resolve complains about Canadian telecommunications and television services. The CCTS can only take TV complaints on issues arising on and after September 1, 2017. It cannot review TV issues, which arose before this date.

How to complain to the CCTS?

Consumers can complain to the CCTS, free, by completing an online complaint form. Before filing any complaint, they must attempt to resolve the issue with the TV Service Provider, otherwise approach the CCTS. They must also check if and when their TV service provider is required to join the CCTS. This information is available on CCTS’s website.

What will the CCTS do?

The CCTS reviews and accepts any complaint within its mandate, which is subjected to an informal resolution and investigation. After this, the CCTS may make recommendations on what needs to be done, and finally issue a decision.

What can the CCTS help with?

The CCTS can help resolve complaints concerning billing issues, services provided, credit management, and compliance with contracts terms and conditions. Consumers may expect a refund in case of any overbilling.

Useful resources:

Source: CRTC website, “The Television Service Provider Code (Infographic)”, online: http://crtc.gc.ca/eng/television/services/icode.htm.

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2016-1, (January 7, 2016).

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, The Television Service Provider Code (Infographic).

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission news release, “Canadians will soon be able to file complaints about television service providers with ombudsman for communications services”, (August 30, 2017).

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, “Your Consumer Rights for TV Services”.

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, “Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS).”

Commission for complaints for Telecom-Television Services resources. See its TV mandate,  complaints form and Complaints process explained.

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