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Conservatives take first step on unbundling cable channels

Julie Jackson demonstrates on the Samsung Smart Touch remote at the Samsung booth at CES on Tuesday.

Jae C. Hong/AP

Canadian Heritage Minister Shelley Glover is taking the first step towards forcing television service providers to let subscribers pay for only those channels they want.

Ms. Glover announced she's asked Canada's broadcast regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission, to prepare a report on how the so-called unbundling of TV channels would take place.

"Our government believes Canadian families should be able to choose the combination of television channels they want," Ms. Glover announced in Vancouver.

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"This decision is an important step in defending Canadian consumers, who want choice and flexibility in their television services. Our request will ensure that the CRTC develops a more complete roadmap to unbundle TV channels."

The Harper government announced it would proceed with this consumer-friendly measure in its October throne speech. This a-la-carte approach would mean TV subscribers are not forced to pay for channels they do not want.

"The government has issued a request to the CRTC, under Section 15 of the Broadcasting Act, to report to the Government on television-channel choice," Ms. Glover announced.

"We are requiring the CRTC to undertake a full examination of unbundling of television services."

On October 24, the broadcast regulator launched wide-ranging consultations on the future of television in Canada. The requested report will focus specifically on unbundling television channels, including the steps the CRTC intends to take in that regard. The report is to be submitted no later than April 30, 2014.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Steven Chase has covered federal politics in Ottawa for The Globe since mid-2001, arriving there a few months before 9/11. He previously worked in the paper's Vancouver and Calgary bureaus. Prior to that, he reported on Alberta politics for the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun, and on national issues for Alberta Report. More

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