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October 2, 2022 8:35 pm  #1

One Good Thing About Canadian Cable

I hope paterson1 doesn't faint when he sees I have something good to say about Canada's cable system. (Although not necessarily the companies that own and run them!) 

The good thing is that, outside of the occasional rain fade on satellite, you never lose your signals. That's not the case in the U.S., where 10 million viewers have just lost access to popular TV services like ABC, FX, FXX and perhaps the most damaging of all for some, ESPN. What do they have in common and why did they suddenly disappear from DISH network? 

The answer can be summed up in a single word: "Disney." They are such incredible greed mongers that they put Rogers and Bell to shame. The U.S. system forces cable and satellite providers to pay a fee for carrying just about every channel and those contracts come up for renewal every few years. Disney wants a huge increase in the money it gets for the stations they own mentioned above and when DISH - which is run by a notorious cheapskate named Charlie Ergen - wouldn't agree, they pulled their channels from the service. (Ergen claims he's trying to keep from having to raise rates, but the fact is this happens endlessly with his company.)

That's left about 10 million subscribers with no way to see some of their favourite shows. And if Ergen's past is any indication, they could be gone a very long time. (His dispute with HBO lasted almost 3 years (!) before the most popular pay channel came back.) 

I'm not a cable subscriber, but you can imagine the howls of protest if Bell decided it wanted more money for CTV or any of its Drama, Comedy or SciFi channels or if Rogers took City and everything else it owns away because one of the carriers wouldn't pay more for it. The complaints to the government would be endless and the CRTC would never allow it.

To me, it's one of the superior ways the system runs here vs. there. And it's not just DISH. This has been going on for years. I remember in the days of the C-Band 10' satellite dish, it was always Disney causing prices to go up on the old 4DTV. They were constantly trying to bleed viewers for more and more and more, and I'm sad to say it doesn't look like much has changed. 

Not that they're the only ones. It seems there's always a dispute with some broadcast owner right around the time a station is scheduled to carry the Super Bowl. It's happened to DirecTV, Spectrum cable and dozens more in the past. Taking viewers hostage is never a good way to get them to like you. And perhaps even worse for both sides - they may just find they can live without you entirely. 

So a brief bravo to the Canadian system, which does not blackmail viewers like this. In that way, at least, we're far ahead of our friends down south. 

Disney Networks Go Dark On Dish & Sling TV In Carriage Dispute, Including ESPN, FX, ABC Stations


October 3, 2022 7:01 am  #2

Re: One Good Thing About Canadian Cable

Unusual for DISH and its recalcitrant owner, but the sat service and Disney have resolved their dispute early and the stations are back on the air. I can only assume the pressure from consumers was so intense, they had no choice but to come up with a solution - neither gives up easily. (But neither do football fans, who stood to lose the most.)
But that doesn't change the original point - forcing carriers to pay increasingly outrageous fee increases for signals is a terrible way to run an airline. And I'm glad we don't have that here. 

Dish & Disney Strike New Carriage Deal — Blackout Is Over

     Thread Starter

October 3, 2022 10:17 am  #3

Re: One Good Thing About Canadian Cable

In Canada when over the air tv doesn't get paid for their signals on cable like a specialty channel does, I would think we would never see this type of outage.    Sadly though some may complain, but those same people will complain when their cable or dish bill goes sky high.   Most providers pass those fees directly onto the subscriber.  (Ask any American about "REGIONAL SPORTS FEES" and "LOCAL CHANNEL FEES")   They are out of control there.   I personally wish the likes of Comcast and Dish etc would stand their ground and refuse to give in.  A few would be upset over not getting their ABC or CBS... but it's hit a point it can't keep going up.   Broadcasters should be paid for their signals on cable when the provider charges subscribers for them, but within reason.   Based on these added fees on most bills in the USA, reasonable has past many moons ago.   If I lived in the USA, I would not have cable based on the fees alone. 

Last edited by radiokid (October 3, 2022 10:18 am)


October 3, 2022 11:05 am  #4

Re: One Good Thing About Canadian Cable

The problem in this case is that both need the other. DISH has been bleeding subscribers for years as people cut the cord (or in this case, the dish) and whenever a favourite gets pulled for an extended period of time, thousands leave for other providers and never come back. It's unsustainable. 

But while not every subscriber watches ESPN or one of their stations, Disney can't afford to sacrifice a potential audience of 10 million people, who suddenly can't get their signal. 

There's a lot to like about the U.S. system - more providers, more channels and no simsub. But when U.S. lawmakers allowed OTA TV station owners to start charging for their signals a few decades ago, greed being what it is, they set this in motion. And it was predictable and inevitable it would end up in something like this. 

It's a terrible thing for people when the Super Bowl is on a Sunday and "station owner X" decides it's time to pull their signals starting Sunday unless they get a big raise. It's as close to blackmail as it comes. And the U.S. should never have set this nightmare in motion in the first place. Too late to fix it now, though. That genie is long out of the bottle. 

     Thread Starter

October 3, 2022 11:07 am  #5

Re: One Good Thing About Canadian Cable

Have you ever noticed that these discussions over carriage rights fees never seem to begin until the old contract is within days of expiring. Several years ago the owners of WIVB  and one of the Western New York cable companies had a dustup over fee increases. Ch 4 disappeared from cable screens 24 hours before the Bills season opener. To help compensate angry viewers, WIVB began giving out free rabbit ear antennas to watch the game.


October 3, 2022 11:17 am  #6

Re: One Good Thing About Canadian Cable

Not to get political, but it's a similar to how education contracts in Ontario always conclude at the end of August, right before the beginning of the new school year. That's when the unions have the most leverage. But the endless uncertainty drives parents crazy.

The Super Bowl is kind of the same - give us more now or your viewers lose the biggest TV event of the year. 

It's a no-win situation and in the end, no matter who wins the Super Bowl, viewers wind up the losers, either missing the game or paying a higher cable bill. There's no way lawmakers would dare try to change the system now, so the U.S. is stuck with it. I just hope Canadian regulators are aware of how bad this idea is and they never try it here. Although I'm sure the local TV stations would love the extra revenue.

     Thread Starter

October 3, 2022 11:29 am  #7

Re: One Good Thing About Canadian Cable

In Canada, we have the CRTC must carry rule for local stations. There is no chance in hell the CBLT/CFTO/CITY/GLOBAL/CHCH/OMNI/TVO group would ever disappear from GTA cable screens.