CityWest exempt from new CRTC ruling

CityWest exempt from new CRTC ruling, but changes coming to cable TV

Rupertites wanting to pick and pay for just the channels they want to watch will have to wait a little longer

Rupertites wanting to pick and pay for just the channels they want to watch will have to wait a little longer before they’re able to put together a lineup of their own choosing.

As of March 1, larger Canadian cable television service providers were mandated by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to offer an affordable entry-level $25 “skinny basic” package, a pick-and-pay package, or small reasonably-priced packages created by the subscriber through combo or theme packs.

CityWest, which already offers a few pick-and-pay individual channels and multiple theme packs on top of a basic package, is exempt from the March deadline, as well as an upcoming December deadline of offering both pick-and-pay and small and reasonably priced packages to Canadians, due to its smaller company size.

In the near future, the company plans to offer more individual channels and theme packs that “add value to customers’ current TV portfolio”.

“There’s been calls [about the changes],” said CityWest sales and marketing manager Chris Armstrong last week.

“They spiked about last year when the CRTC first announced it, and then over the last few months, the volume in calls has gotten a little bit higher … We explain our position [of exemption] and for the most part people are quite happy with it,” he said.

“I really want to emphasize that our customers have been really great since we communicated that we’re not launching it on Feb. 29. They’ve been fantastic. We’ve got a lot of emails and people are very reasonable about it. I don’t think there’s really been any angry customers over this and they’re very reasonable in their requests of what they want to see in their TV packaging and we’re definitely going to take all of that into account when we eventually do build our new packages.”

Armstrong didn’t have a solid timetable into the future as to when the new packaging options would be available, but mentioned that the re-evaluation period is a good chance to find out what northwest B.C. customers want in their viewing options.

“We get calls everyday from people asking about what new channels that we might not have that they would like. This is a prime opportunity to do some good market research,” said Armstrong.

Despite the new pick-and-pay model, the manager thinks people still may go for the theme packages because of the cheaper overall cost per-channel.

“It’s cheaper to buy a dozen eggs than it is to buy one. I think, for the short-to-medium term, TV customers are still going to like their theme packages, mostly because the unit price is going to be smaller now. That said, there’s going to be a few customers, I think a pretty low percentage, that do want those single channels.”

While CityWest will respond to any regulatory change made that affects the company, the strain isn’t so much on the technical side of things for new package options, but more for marketing and billing.

“We always base our prices on what the market demands are and what our competition does. Any business does that and we will do the same thing when we launch the new packaging, we’ll take into account what we think people will pay, how much value they see in the amount they’re paying for it and also take into account what our competition is doing,” said Armstrong.