Cable

Canada to politely force cable companies to unbundle

Finally, you won’t be forced to pay your cable company for making the Game Show Network available—at least if you live above a certain latitude. The Canadian government will soon require cable and satellite providers to offer channels à la carte rather than force users to buy a bundle of content.

“We don’t think it’s right for Canadians to have to pay for bundled television channels that they don’t watch. We want to unbundle television channels and allow Canadians to pick and pay the specific television channels that they want,” said Industry Minister James Moore said during a Sunday appearance on CTV.

A few months back in the US, Senator John McCain led a failed attempt to force cable providers to unbundle their stateside offerings. Slate’s Matthew Yglesias had a thoughtful wrap on why the stillborn bill may sound good to frustrated cable subscribers, but that it would make little money-saving difference in the end. In his view, cable providers will maintain profits by setting a higher price on the popular channels you already subscribe to.

It’s very difficult to say exactly how a cable unbundling effort would roll-out for consumers. Especially in the context of the decades-old model of video distribution falling into a state of kerfuffle. In just past week, we’ve seen announcements that Aero is finally expanding to Android, Netflix is considering a move to your cable box, and you can now watch TV in your Twitter feed. One starts to wonder whether it will soon make any difference what model cable companies embrace.

Etither way, we may soon have a real-world test of the model from our neighbors up north.

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