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Let’s Talk TV: CRTC proposes measures to empower Canadian TV viewers

From a media release:

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today unveiled a draft code that will help Canadians make informed choices and resolve disputes with their television service providers.

During the Let’s Talk TV conversation, many Canadians said that cable and satellite companies do not always provide enough information about their packaging and pricing. Canadians also said that, in their view, the companies sometimes provide misleading or inaccurate information, as well as poor or inconsistent customer service. The CRTC’s code reflects what it heard from Canadians.

Under the proposed code, cable and satellite companies would be required to provide easy-to-understand agreements to their customers and notify them of changes to their services. The code would also clarify the terms surrounding the addition or cancellation of channels, early cancellation fees and installation appointments, among others. Combined with the CRTC’s previously announced prohibition of 30-day cancellation policies, Canadians will have the freedom and necessary information to switch service providers if they are not satisfied.

To help the CRTC finalize the code, Canadians are invited to share their views on the following questions:

  • What kind of information should cable and satellite providers give subscribers when they sign up?
  • How much notice should cable and satellite providers have to give when they change the price of channels or packages of channels?
  • What would constitute a reasonable timeframe for service calls by cable and satellite providers?

The CRTC is welcoming comments on the draft code until May 25, 2015. Canadians can participate by:

For more information on how to participate in a CRTC consultation, please see: It’s Your CRTC: Here’s How to Have Your Say!

The CRTC will also host an online discussion forum to promote further discussion among Canadians on the proposed code. Details of the discussion forum will be announced shortly.

In addition, Canadians are increasingly obtaining their various communications services from the same company through bundled offerings. For this reason, the CRTC is proposing that Canadians would be able to direct their complaints relating to the code to the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services. This industry ombudsman currently works with Canadians to help resolve complaints relating to their wireless, Internet and telephone services, and administers the CRTC’s wireless code.

Improved access for Canadians with disabilities
Canadians with disabilities will have access to more content that has been adapted to their needs and which will provide them with a seamless viewing experience. The CRTC expects that when television programs with closed captioning are made available online and on mobile devices, the closed captioning will be included.

In addition, the CRTC expects broadcasters to increase the amount of programs with described video they offer over the next few years. By September 2019, most broadcasters will have to provide described video for programs aired in prime time, from 7 to 11 p.m.

Finally, the CRTC will require television service providers to make accessible hardware, such as set-top boxes and remote controls, available to subscribers, where they can be obtained from suppliers and are compatible with their networks. This requirement will be implemented by the end of 2015.

About Let’s Talk TV
In 2013, the CRTC launched Let’s Talk TV: A Conversation with Canadians on the future of their television system, and how it can adapt to evolving technologies and viewing habits. The CRTC received more than 13,000 comments from Canadians during the conversation’s various phases.

Today’s announcement is the fifth in a series of decisions that ensure Canada’s television system adapts to a World of Choice, in which Canadians are watching the content they want on different devices and at a time of their choosing.

Over the past few months, the CRTC has introduced significant changes that will foster a more dynamic marketplace in which there are incentives for: (1) television service providers to offer reasonably priced services that meet the diverse needs and interests of Canadians; (2) creators to produce high-quality, original content that is compelling to audiences; and (3) Canadians to switch television service providers without having to give 30-days advance notice if they are not satisfied, to choose over-the-air television as a free, competitive alternative and to make informed decisions about their service providers.

Quick Facts

  • The CRTC has unveiled a draft code that will help Canadians make informed choices about, and resolve disputes with, their television service providers.
  • The code proposes to ensure that Canadians receive easy-to-understand agreements and are notified of changes to their services.
  • The code proposes to clarify the terms surrounding the addition or cancellation of channels, early cancellation fees and installation appointments.
  • Canadians are invited to share their views on the proposed code by May 25, 2015.
  • If they are not satisfied, Canadians can take advantage of a more dynamic marketplace and switch their television service provider without having to give advance notice.
  • Canadians with disabilities will have access to more content that has been adapted to their needs and which will provide them with a seamless viewing experience.
  • Today’s decision concludes the CRTC’s Let’s Talk TV conversation, which was launched to ensure that Canada’s television system adapts to an audiovisual environment that is in profound evolution.
Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and partner at TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from countless programs. Survivor winners, Donald Trump, Jerry Bruckheimer ... he has interviewed (literally) hundreds of TV people over the course of his career. He is a past member of the Television Critics Association.
Greg David
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