'Skinny Basic' Packages Bringing Canadians Back To Cable: CRTC

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GATINEAU, Que. — The country's broadcast regulator says tens of thousands of Canadians have either signed up for the first time or switched to the recently mandated skinny-basic TV packages.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission says more than 66,000 consumers have signed up to the new basic TV packages in the five weeks since cable and satellite service providers were required to offer them.

As well, the CRTC says more than one in three TV service subscribers have opted to buy individual channels, small packages or both.

Service providers including Bell, Rogers, Shaw and Cogeco began offering the new basic packages as of March 1 under new rules that cap the cost of service at $25 per month.

The CRTC also required service providers to offer either individual "pick and pay" channels or small bundles of no more than 10 channels.

jean pierre blais crtc

CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais. (Canadian Press photo)

Some consumers have complained about the new basic packages, even characterizing them as a "ripoff," because service providers take away bundling and other discounts offered with more expensive service options.

Many of the carriers also charge connection and cable box fees in addition to the $25 monthly charge, even as they often waive those same fees for their higher-cost bundled services.

As well, a handful of companies include U.S. TV network channels as part of their slimmed-down basic packages while others do not.

The CRTC said the subscription figures were provided by the carriers, which also include Access Communications, Eastlink, MTS, SaskTel, Shaw Communications, Telus and Videotron.

The service providers will be required to offer full pick-and-pay starting December 1.

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