TELUS today submitted a proposal to the CRTC for safeguards to protect Canadian TV viewers from anti-competitive practices of the large broadcasting companies which now control Canada’s television industry.
In the past year there has been an unparalleled concentration of content ownership resulting from large corporate acquisitions highlighted by BCE’s $3 billion purchase of Bell Globemedia and Shaw’s $2 billion purchase of CanWest. As a result, Canadian broadcasting content has become largely owned and controlled by Canada’s largest cable and satellite providers.
“The unprecedented concentration of market power in the broadcasting sector created by the common ownership of programming services and distribution platforms requires regulatory safeguards to protect consumers,” said Michael Hennessy, senior vice-president Regulatory and Government Affairs at TELUS. “The potential for abuse of market power is real and the risk to consumers is significant. Without proper regulatory safeguards consumers could soon be facing increased costs and reduced choice in their TV viewing options.”
The proposed safeguards include:
* Distributors should not withhold content from competitors. This will prevent anti-competitive programming blackouts.
* Preferential or exclusive programming rights should not permitted in Canada. Consumers should not have to switch suppliers to watch their favorite shows.
* To ensure fair competition, vertically integrated broadcasters should not benefit from a head-start in launching new programming services.
* Fees charged for a programming service should be in line with fees charged for other services of equal value to consumers to ensure consumer costs do not skyrocket.
A recent survey by Harrisdecima found that an overwhelming 88 per cent of Canadians support federal government rules that require all content to be made equally available to all distributors. Such rules are required to ensure consumers can watch any program they choose, no matter which company they buy their TV, internet or wireless service from.