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CRTC tightens leash on TV providers following "skinny basic" outrage

Last Updated Nov 21, 2016 at 12:06 pm PST


VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – If you feel a little ripped off by the “skinny basic” package offered by your TV provider, you might feel a little better knowing the regulator is putting cable and satellite providers on notice.

In a new decision posted now following a September hearing, the CRTC is outlining what it calls “best practices for the industry,” and it’s only giving a one-year renewal on licences for TV service providers as it watches how providers adapt to the new guidelines — a big change from the usual seven-year extension.

“The view here is to do one thing,” says Scott Hutton, the CRTC’s executive director, broadcasting. “To keep the heat on, to continue to monitor the business practices and consumer care practices that are used by these companies to ensure that Canadians get better value.”

Lawyer Alysia Lau with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, a consumer protection group, feels the regulator is sending a message.

“It’s really a signal from the CRTC to the TV providers to say, ‘this is what we think you should do, these are the best practices,’” says Lau.

People made 1,400 formal complaints to the CRTC after the release of those supposedly cheaper packages — Lau says this is partially a response to those concerns.

“In the CRTC’s decision, the commission recognizes some of the concerns and complaints that it’s received,” says Lau. “Some of the things that they talked about, were, if you offer a bundling discount then it should be offered to everyone who subscribes to more than one service for instance, if a customer wants to switch to a lower price package, they shouldn’t be penalized for doing so, you probably shouldn’t remove any services such as [Video on Demand] or free previews from skinny basic customers just because they want to subscribe to skinny basic, and you should try to make the offering of your packages simple.”

The CRTC also wants companies to allow people to make changes to their packages online, something that may come as a relief to those who have experienced long waits on hold to make modifications over the phone.

If you are entering into negotiations or renegotiations with your provider, the CRTC has a guide to assist you.