(OTA - "Over-The-Air" Broadcasts - free for the public).
So the TV networks have won their battle with "Big Cable"...
What's next? How about keeping the price of TV down?
If you're an advocate for the end consumer (you and me), this recent development is a good one. If this change didn't occur the cable/sat giants would dominate the market - and eventually buy out/own all the networks in Canada.
Still, there is a HUGE window of opportunity here for regulators (or for the networks - if they choose to be pro-active): Ensure public access to over-the-air broadcasts.
There is a crime committed every day one of us turns on our TV in our apartment or condo... It's the crime of "monopoly". Ever notice how you have no choice of provider when you move into a condo complex? Cable companies have entire teams dedicated to "pre-selling" new developments to "ice out" any competition. Now, condo boards will tell you they prefer not to have "unsightly" dishes on every balcony (understood - but there are alternative locations for dishes), but there IS an option that every broadcaster can provide: OTA signals. A person living in Surrey or Abbotsford BC can pick up over-the-air broadcast from the major Canadian AND major US networks - for FREE... Simply have a new HD-TV with an OTA-receiver built in for the HD signal, or use your rabbit ears for the quickly disappearing analog terrestrial signals.
Canadian broadcasters need to take the next step in winning the "hearts and minds" of the public: Start ensuring strong signal quality for your HD/Digital OTA broadcasts. If I could pick up my HD signals (CBC, CTV, Global) over the air, for free, I would cancel my cable subscription, and use something like AppleTV, or an online service like iTunes to purchase any other shows or movies I need to purchase. The end savings to the consumer are huge: No more billing for channels you don't want - or even shows you don't want. Simply pay for the content you want - commercial free (in HD too!). The OTA signals would ensure that we can still keep in touch with our local Canadian programming (although much of it is also available online), and still see commercials, if we wish. If people want the "full cable universe", they can choose to pay their $250/month to the cable providers...
Broadcasters will need to be "pushed" into ensuring they offer strong signals nation-wide. A government that encourages this would win a LOT of votes and public sympathy. Of course, that government would have to say goodbye to the $100s of 1000s in campaign donations from the likes of Rogers, Shaw, and Bell. Broadcasters would be able to reach a "new" audience - people who currently don't have cable/sat because of the exorbitant fees... Millions of Canadians would have a new entertainment stream.
Politicians are worried about cable prices going up. If they encourage and foster OTA signals, they have an "out" with the public.
OTA - it's the way to go.