Privy Council Office spends a bundle, issues $828,840 sole-source cable contract

OTTAWA – When it comes to cable television service for the nerve centre of the federal government, Ottawa is bundling up.

The Privy Council Office, the central bureaucracy that serves the prime minister and cabinet, has awarded a sole-source contract to Rogers Cable, one of the targets of a Conservative campaign for consumer rights.

Last month, the government delivered a throne speech that promised to move toward forcing a la carte provision of channels to consumers, rather than the current bundles of packages that force subscribers to pay for channels they don’t watch.

“Our government believes Canadian families should be able to choose the combination of television channels they want,” Gov. Gen. David Johnston said Oct. 16.

“It will require channels to be unbundled, while protecting Canadian jobs.”

Exactly one month later, the government issued a notice of tender stating that Rogers Cable Communications will provide cablevision services to the Privy Council Office in the national capital region for the next three years.

“The contractor shall provide the channel line-up, as per Annex A, of required TV stations to PCO … via COAX or Fiber (cable),” says the tender notice.

Annex A lists 30 stations that range from CTV, CBC, Global and French-language RDI and TVA to TV Ontario, The Weather Network, Fox Detroit, PBS Watertown, Youth TV and The Learning Channel.

Notably absent from the list is Sun News Network, the pro-Conservative upstart news network on the dial.

“PCO purchases the basic Rogers service (which includes the required stations identified in Annex A of the ACAN) as this is the most cost-effective option,” Privy Council spokesman Raymond Rivet said in an email.

“This basic service does include Sun News and other channels but there is no incremental cost for these channels.”

And it seems the PCO, like so many TV viewers, doesn’t like to miss its favourite shows. The reason for providing Rogers the contract without going to other suppliers for bids was explained as follows:

“The Privy Council has zero per cent tolerance level to outages due to sensitivity of broadcast recordings, and delivery of cablevision via COAX or Fiber is not susceptible to storms and inclement weather,” said the tender.

The estimated value of the contract is $828,840.

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