Professor Michael Geist appeared on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin on November 12, 2009 to discuss the debate between cable companies and television broadcasters over new fees for program distribution.
Television broadcasters are demanding that the CRTC impose a fee-for-carriage system that would require cable companies to pay a fee to networks for the signals they distribute. Cable companies warn, however, that such a tax will simply be passed on to the consumer. Local over-the-air broadcasters claim they are threatened by cable companies, and feel they are entitled to compensation for their signals. A key question in the debate is whether or not local broadcasters can survive without having their signals paid for and distributed by cable companies.
“Whether we end up with a fee-for-carriage system or whether the cable companies say we’re going to continue with what we have, it’s the consumers who foot the bill.” explained Prof. Geist. “I think the right solution is to let consumers decide, just like they do with specialty channels. If they want those local channels, they’ll pay for them, there will be a fee-for-carriage and the broadcasters will get the revenue, but if they don’t want them they shouldn’t have to pay for them.”
Prof. Geist was joined in the discussion by Norm Bolen, president and CEO of the Canadian Film and Television Production Association, Ian Morrison, a spokesperson for FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting, and Grant Robertson, media reporter for Report on Business and The Globe and Mail.
Click here to watch the full discussion, entitled “A Pox on Both Their Houses: Cable and TV”.