CRTC should ban ‘discriminatory’ basic TV packages: consumer group

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre argues that removing discounts on basic service amounts to discrimination—and runs contrary to the intent of new TV rules

GATINEAU, Que. — Consumer advocates are calling on the national broadcast regulator to prohibit TV service providers from taking bundling discounts away from customers who opt for mandated, cut-rate, basic service.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre argues that removing the discounts amounts to discrimination and runs contrary to the intent of new rules designed to provide consumers with greater choice and flexibility in buying TV services.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is holding hearings this week examining the rollout of so-called skinny basic TV services.

The CRTC and consumer groups received hundreds of complaints after TV providers were mandated to offer the $25 basic packages Mar. 1.

PIAC executive director John Lawford told the hearings consumers have been disadvantaged by the way some of the TV providers have interpreted how they can offer the mandated services.

The big four service providers — Bell, Shaw, Rogers (which owns Maclean’s) and Videotron — told the hearings they have learned lessons from the rollout and are adapting their marketing practices in response.

But they deny that they were being paternalistic with customers by placing restrictions on the cheapest of their cut-rate TV offerings.

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