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Why Did the CRTC Mandate Pick-and-Pay? Because BDU's Wouldn't Do It On Their Own - Michael Geist
The CRTC released its TalkTV decision this afternoon and - as expected - it includes a mandatory basic service capped at $25 per month (which may include U.S. channels) and mandates a pick-and-pay alternative no later than December 2016. Why did the CRTC conclude that it needed to regulate a pick-and-pay option? Because the public wanted it and it was convinced that cable and satellite providers would not do it on their own. This passage from the decision tells you everything you need to know and gets it exactly right: while some parties argued that it would be sufficient to prohibit programmers from preventing BDUs from offering programming services on a pick-and-pay or build-your-own-package basis, this approach does not take into account the fact that vertically integrated BDUs have every incentive to ensure that their related programming services are insulated from the financial pressures that come with greater choice and packaging flexibility. As such, BDUs, and vertically integrated BDUs in particular, may not be sufficiently incented to make the necessary changes to their current offerings or might make these changes at a much slower pace than that desired by Canadian subscribers. Moreover, the Commission considers that BDUs have not generally demonstrated that they would willingly move to more flexible packaging options on their own.