R.I.P. Cable TV – 1948 – 2009

September 2, 2009

On the heels of an announcement earlier this month warning Canadians to prepare for higher monthly cable fees, this week the CRTC has announced that it will no longer limit the amount of advertising networks are allowed to air.

So while the cable industry struggles to compete with online and digital alternatives in the midst of a fragile economy, the CRTC in all its brilliance has decided to authorize providers to charge consumers more for the privilege of watching more ads (a large percentage of which extol American companies that don’t exist here).

Dare I predict the imminent end of cable television?

The irony is that the CRTC is also at the forefront of combating pirated media which is by definition free, available on demand, and contains no advertising. The simple truth is they need a much better game plan if they’re to save an anachronistic method of transmission.

Hint: Wasting people’s time and money ain’t it.

ITunes has already proven along with several other studies that pirates will pay for their media so long as they feel they’re getting value for their dollar. Pirated media is often of questionable quality and harder to find than a competitively priced corporate alternative. And however unlikely, no one wants to be made an example of in a courtroom while politicians try and figure out the legality of p2p software.

So how the CRTC is getting it so completely and utterly wrong remains baffling but in the meantime it’s once again up to consumer ire to send a powerful message by reducing or completely canceling cable packages. My fiancĂ© used to insist we maintain a cable package so she could watch NHL games, however with TSN.ca and CBC.ca showing the majority of Canadian games between them, that argument is no longer valid. Besides that, most networks host their most popular series’ online for free (with a fraction of the advertising content).

Another nail in the cable coffin is the fact that viewing habits have changed with the advent of TV on DVD. Marathon viewings of series is becoming quite the popular form of consumption (who hasn’t taken in a season of 24 in real time or passed out trying at least once?) Furthermore, by not having cable, I only consume what I’m actually interested in watching, rather than mindless channel surfing and background noise. Who knows, the CRTC may end up encouraging me to read more books…

Now’s the time to take bold action, failure to do so will only embolden the CRTC to make more foolish decisions. There’s a difference between ad-supported content that’s free (ie. most legitimate online media) and reckless price-gouging which is what’s happening with cable.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have some original programming to take in courtesy of Current.com and fora.tv.


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