Bell Pushes for "Pick and Play" Canadian Television

July 07, 2014
By: Casey Houser

It is the bane of some television watchers that they have to put up with all the channels they do not want. Sports fanatics are crazy about their hockey, football, tennis, car racing, and all-around sporting channels, but they are not always thrilled with children's television programming or home and gardening networks.

The overall problem is that cable and satellite providers often bundle those channels together. Viewers cannot pick and choose between what they want and what they do not want. Bell, however, made a recent announcement concerning its support for TV packaging flexibility in Canada. It is calling for a "pick and play" method of programming that could allow Canadian citizens more freedom when choosing channels not included in basic packages.

Bell's official announcement says the company wants to support local programming by allowing viewers control over the channels they wish to have in addition to that content. It describes the basic idea as such:

"Broadcast distributors should have continued flexibility to include discretionary Canadian services in basic packages and offer a range of TV packaging options, while also having the ability to make all Canadian discretionary services not in basic available to consumers on a pick and pay basis," the announcement states.

Local TV is reportedly suffering from a lack of funding because it is not succeeding within an advertising-only model, Bell explains. However, it says that Canadian television is built on a foundation of local programming, and it wants that foundation to continue to exist. To that end, Bell submitted its proposal for "pick and play" to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

If the CRTC was to grant the "pick and play" capability Bell desires, it would need to allow broadcasters and distributors the ability to negotiate prices for any channels without carriage rights. Bell explains that a competitive business model this method of programming would establish could provide consumers with their favorite channels at competitive prices while also allowing local and premium channels to thrive.

Bell's proposal would convert local stations into "local specialty services," the announcement explains. Local channels could charge wholesale rates to broadcast distributors, and that wholesale rate, in addition to advertising revenue, would support the existence of the channels.