Offer Canadians low-cost skinny TV package: CBC

A CBC proposal for an inexpensive, no-frills TV package of Canadian channels was attacked by Bell TV’s satellite service Tuesday as unworkable and ”self-serving.“

GATINEAU, Que. — A CBC proposal for an inexpensive, no-frills TV package of Canadian channels was attacked by Bell TV’s satellite service Tuesday as unworkable and ”self-serving.“

The “skinny basic” option was proposed by the public broadcaster on Tuesday as the simplest way to square the demand by conventional broadcasters that cable and satellite firms start paying for their signals, and the carriers’ threat to enact a TV tax on consumers.

During the first two days of hearings on the issue that has divided the industry into warring camps, CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein has said he wants to find a way to help broadcasters without punishing consumers.

CBC president Hubert Lacroix told the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission that skinny basic is the answer.

“The simplest and most consumer-friendly approach would be to establish a small, all-Canadian basic service which would include all local television stations and a very limited set of other programming services,” Lacroix said.

Cable and satellite carriers could then charge whatever extra they wanted to for various expanded packages, he said.

But Mirko Bibic, Bell Canada’s head of regulatory affairs, rejected the proposal, saying carriers would lose money on such a package and few Canadians would want it.

And he accused the CBC of acting solely in self-interest since, under the Broadcasting Act, it would have to be part of the package.

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