Cable Companies Slow to Share Basic Cable Details

Most major cable companies have been slow and hesitant to share details about the new basic package which has been introduced at the insistence of the CRTC.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, which is the regulatory agency for broadcasting and telecommunications, has mandated that cable providers should provide a ‘skinny’ package which will provide basic viewing consisting of local stations and a handful of mandatory channels, for no more than $25 a month.

TV cable providers like Rogers, Bell and Telus have been keeping customers in the dark regarding their plans to provide this package to comply with the new CRTC regulations.

However, an employee at Rogers leaked information to a Canadian news organisation about the new offering, forcing the company to clarify then that it would offer a starter TV package for $24.99 including mandatory Canadian channels apart from some major U.S. channels such as ABC. Customers can then add on additional channels with theme packs ranging from $3 to $18.

However, it is unlikely that the companies will promote these plans, Bell Canada has even gone to the extent of telling its staff not to promote the ‘skinny package’. To deter customers from picking the skinny package, the companies are making the add-on packages much more expensive. Bell’s add on packages could end up costing customers more than their current cable bill.

The companies aim to make the ‘skinny’ starter package look as unattractive as possible so that customers would choose their pricier deals.

According to a Canadian news organisation that has got its hands on a Bell training document that deals with the matter, the company said that sales staff should not promote the starter TV package and the plan should be discussed only if the customer initiates the conversation about it. Also mentioned in the document was that the company would not offer any deals to the ‘skinny’ package customers.

Like other packages, customers of the skinny package too would have to shell out extra monthly fees for the TV receiver, or box rental and HD channels.

The companies seem to be doing their best to make the $25 skinny TV package look like a bad deal. The rules governing this package were created in response to consumer complaints of overpriced TV programming and requests that customers only wanted to pay for channels that they wanted instead of shelling out big bucks for a large number of channels they would not watch. However, the TV cable providers are worried that this would lead to many customers taking the basic package and cutting down on cable bills in a harsh economic environment. How consumers react to these packages remains to be seen.