CityWest taking a wait-and-see approach to channel unbundling

CityWest is taking a wait-and-see approach to a commitment made by the federal government in Wednesday's Throne Speech.

CityWest is taking a wait-and-see approach to a commitment made by the federal government in Wednesday’s Throne Speech.

“Our Government believes Canadian families should be able to choose the combination of television channels they want. It will require channels to be unbundled, while protecting Canadian jobs,” Gov. Gen. David Johnston said while reading the speech from the Senate chambers .

Currently CityWest’s digital offerings come largely in packs and bundles, although how that will change is yet to be seen.

“We certainly support the government’s intention to allow customers to choose which channels they want and pay for just those, but it will be interesting to see how content providers respond to this,” CityWest sales and marketing director Donovan Dias said, noting details thus far are quite scarce.

“It is just a comment from the federal government at this point, so it will be interesting to see how the [Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission] interprets it because they have certain rules and regulations in place.”

Dias called the plans a good first step to get people thinking about how cable and satellite channels are offered, but said the “à la carte” model was something that was already on the company’s radar.

“We were beginning to lean toward the à la carte model for our channels, though probably not to the same extent as the government envisions,” he said.

“If you look at our offerings, there are currently about 12 channels that people can pick and choose from individually. One of the issues is a lot of the others are bundled in theme or team packs, and those will have to be examined.”

Reaction to the announcement by the government has been mixed, with some praising the new freedom for consumers and others saying the unbundling of channels will  lead to higher television bills. Other industry experts have questioned whether or not U.S. content providers will go along with the plan as it may set a precedent for U.S. companies.