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Fixing TV Service Will Keep Complaints Commissioner Busy

OTTAWA – Over the last six months, Canadians made 2,734 complaints about their television services to the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS). That is more complaints than the CCTS received in relation to wireless, internet, local voice, or long-distance voice services. What makes this particularly surprising is that the CCTS cannot yet address complaints about TV services– it won’t be able to until September 2017, when the “TV Service Provider Code” comes into effect.

With Canada’s communications regulator reporting that it received 3,191 complaints about broadcasting distribution undertakings in a year in its most recent data , it looks like the CCTS will have its hands full bringing TV Service providers up to the standards Canadians expect.[1]

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) fought for the TV Service Provider Code, just as we fought for the Wireless Code before it. These mandatory codes protect consumers and promote competition. Both Codes focus on allowing consumers to make informed choices.

Communications consumers face ongoing problems with communications service providers. These are highlighted in the CCTS mid-term report’s statistics, which outline thousands of complaints made in relation to wireless, internet, local phone, and long-distance services.


Top 10 Issues Complaints

Aug 1-Jan 31

Non-disclosure of terms/Misleading information about terms 795
Incorrect Charge 698
Intermittent/Inadequate quality of service 632
Legitimacy and amount of early cancellation fees 477
30-day cancellation policy/Charges billed after cancellation 398
Credit/refund not received 344
Data charges 283
Credit reporting 235
Breach of Contract 232
Material contract change without notice 224


The TV Service Provider Code will help to address more of these problems. In short, the Code requires carriers to communicate clearly. More specifically it requires carriers to:


  1. Clearly explain promotional offers, including how long the promotion will last, the price at the end of the promotion, and any commitment period or cancellation fee;
  2. Write contracts and related documents in a way which is clear and easy to read;
  3. Clearly itemize all charges, including equipment rental fees, installation fees, and access fees;
  4. Provide a permanent copy of the contract setting out specified important terms;
  5. Provide a critical information summary summarizing the contract;
  6. Provide notice when they are changing prices or packaging of channels, and setting out the customer’s options; and
  7. Clearly explain their policies in relation to service outages and disconnection.

We look forward to the CCTS’ assumption of responsibility for the TV Service Provider Code this September.


For more information, please contact:


Jonathan Bishop

Research & Parliamentary Analyst

Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)

(613) 562-4002×23



John Lawford

Executive Director

Public Interest Advocacy Centre

ONE Nicholas Street, Suite 1204

Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7

(613) 562-4002 x25

(613) 447-8125 (cell)




[1] http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/publications/reports/policymonitoring/2016/cmr3.htm#a3iv

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