saving money
What is a Cable Bill? While most Canadians are already reeling under the pressure of a ridiculously high cable bill, the Government is proposing to impose more misery on them; the average Canadian pays anywhere between $ 60 to 100. The CRTC in its infinite wisdom is proposing to impose fee-for-carriage, which will allow local stations and broadcasters to charge cable companies a fee for carrying their signals; they in turn will be recovering this fee from the end users.

But as the CEO of Videotron has already stated, "In the current economic it is indecent to increase the burden on consumers", giving a clear indication that his company is not going to absorb any part of the increased rates. The cable companies are up in arms against this proposed increase for the fiscal year 2009 - 10, in which the CRTC has raised the funding for local TV stations to $100 million.

This drive by the CRTC is to garnish support for the local over-the-air TV stations which have free programs available for cable companies to include in their service packages. The industry experts and pundits predict an annual cable bill collection of $50 to 100 million depending on the packages sold, based on available data for the last few years. To a certain extent the revenue generated will also depend on how much of the added burden is absorbed by the cable company and how much is passed on to the consumer.

"It just makes no sense at all that we would have to pay extra as consumers to pick up signals that we could pick up free off-the-air," says Mel Fruitman, vice president of the Consumers' Association of Canada. While consumer rights activists and associations are urging the cable companies to absorb this added burden, the company representatives are adamant that all such fees will inevitably be passed on to the end user.

Such unnecessary burden in the monthly cable bill is pushing customers to disconnect their connections. The picture is not very pretty from the viewpoint of the cable operators either; they feel pressured by the regulators to carry the local channels; but the cable operators' contention is that only with popular American shows can they guarantee eyeballs, which in turn will lure advertisers and generate revenue for the operators. Some customers say that they do not mind a higher cable bill if it is going to benefit local channels and talent as it would be a way of supporting their community.

They feel the high cable bill charges would be justified if it is spent on supporting and funding local programs and talent, and not on popular US TV shows. In this cable war, the Government plans to resolve the situation by public participation and consultations; the CTRC plans to hold a public hearing in the month of September to find an amicable solution. Ultimately it is the end user who suffers as he is forced to foot the bill if he wants to have cable; given the current economic climate, it is no surprise that the Canadian cable industry has reportedly lost 2,00,000 subscribers in the last year alone due to the ongoing tussle over the cable bill. What is a Cable Bill?

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