Why did the CRTC "Kill" Legal Internet-TV in Canada?
Internet TV is not available legally at a cost effective price point to Canadian consumers. The cost is artificially high, an apparently deliberate policy of the CRTC.
The CRTC is the Canadian Radio-Telecommunciations Commission, which is the Government Regulator of TV and Radio in Canada.
A few years ago, these appointed commissioners (who mostly come from the Telephone and Cable TV industries) made the decision to carefully restrict Canadian's access to legal TV-Over-the-Internet.
As of January 2014, Legal TV-over-the-internet is allowed, but only on terms that do not compete in a meaningful way with the incumbents, Bell and Rogers (and Cogeco, and Videotron, etc.)
Internet technology can easily allow high-quality TV channels to be delivered over the internet with no difficulty. In principle they could be delivered from a server on the internet anywhere in the world. Youtube does this now for its On-Demand content. Doing so for Streaming TV content is no more difficult.
If streaming TV-over-the-Internet was permitted in Canada, this means residential customers would only need to buy basic internet connectivity from Rogers or Bell (or someone else), and then they could buy their package of TV channels from any one of a large number of competing companies.
What's more, those new competitors could enroll new customers instantly, simply by accepting a credit card order on a website.
This would reduce Bell and Rogers and the other current providers of TV services to simply selling generic internet connectivity, and competing on service and price alone. This is a very low margin business, and with improvements in terrestrial wireless technology and increasing fiber-optic deployment to residential areas, the longer term prospects for all the incumbents are very dim. Most would go out of business.
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What keeps Cable and Phone and Satellite-TV providers in business is their ability to bundle and package and make long term contracts to restrict consumer freedom and choice.
Allowing a residential customer to simply log into a website or call a 1-800 number to order a complete package of television channels instantly, available in his home moments later would allow competition in a meaningful way for television service in almost all Canadian urban and suburban homes, and that would be the end of high monthly bills for TV.
However since providers would often be based outside Canada, it would also mean the CRTC would lose its ability to regulate content, arrange for fees to be collected to subsidize local artistic productions, or put dollars into the Canadian Television Production Fund, and so on.
This presents an odd situation.
The technology allows what most subscribers want, lower monthly costs for TV, more consumer choice, more flexibility, and more features. The CRTC is preventing this to protect the established monopoly providers and to preserve the status quo, and their ability to regulate and be relevant.
Obviously there is a loophole....
Internet-TV providers outside Canada are not governed by the CRTC, so they can do what they want, and they do. The impact of the CRTC rules is to kill off the Internet-TV business in Canada, and leave the entire field to non-Canadian TV content providers.
But there is lots of demand from Canadians, so there is no shortage of 3rd party offshore providers happy to deliver a package of channels catering specifically to Canadian residential customers.
In the age of the internet, the world is flat, and everything is only a click away. It is up to individual Canadians to decide if they want to be constrained by the CRTC as a passive herd of bill-payers to feed the current Cable TV and Satellite TV companies, or do they want to break free from the pack, and roam the open savanah of the internet, and get what they really want.
If you decide to walk on the wild-side, we make it easy, about as wild as a drive through the Lion Safari.