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Canadians May Get Full A-La-Carte Cable Choices

14 Oct, 2013 By: Chris Tribbey

Cable providers in Canada may soon be forced by the government to provide full a-la-carte choices to citizens, the country's industry minister said Oct. 13.

"We don't think it's right for Canadians to have to pay for bundled television channels that they don't watch. We want to unbundle television channels and allow Canadians to pick and pay [for] the specific television channels that they want," Canadian Industry Minister James Moore said during an interview on CTV's political "Question Period” show. “That’s a cost that’s imposed on to consumers that’s unfair, where they have to pay for services that they’re not interested in. We think it’s time to modernize that and move forward.”

Vancouver’s Telus Corp. offers a la carte with its Optik TV service, and Vidéotron GP and Bell Canada Enterprises have also offered similar packages to consumers in parts of the country. Other companies — including Toronto’s Rogers Communications — have yet to do so. The government move would force every cable company to offer some sort of a-la-carte service.

A-la-carte cable and satellite is a concept that’s been strenuously fought in the United States, with companies like Time Warner and Viacom coming out strongly against the idea, saying it would hamper consumer choice and result in lower-quality programming.

Arizona Sen. John McCain during the summer introduced the Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013, which would open up a-la-carte programming and pay-per-channel packages. However, that bill has gone nowhere.

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