Canadians expect more choice, more online TV viewing with Netflix as a model

MONTREAL – The CRTC says Canadians want broadcasters to offer better quality programming, or risk losing them to the Internet.

The CRTC launched a review last year on the future of television in Canada.

In a report Wednesday on comments that it has received, the federal regulator said many Canadians expect to watch more TV online, and on-demand personalized programming.

The CRTC says those who responded pointed to online service Netflix as an affordable, on-demand way to watch television that should serve as an example.

The report also found a majority of Canadians who gave their views want channels available on a pick-and-pay basis, even though it could increase costs.

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said many believe that basic TV packages are too large and they’re forced to pay for channels they don’t want.

The regulator received responses from more than 1,300 Canadians between last Oct. 24 and Nov.22.

Despite the lower availability of French language programming online, francophones also cited a growing attraction to digital content, the CRTC said.

“Many participants think that certain channels and services will no longer be financially viable as the broadcasting system evolves, but are hopeful that companies will strive to improve the quality of their programming so that they can compete, the report said.

They told the CRTC the biggest impediment to changing TV providers is equipment costs because there’s no standard set-top box.

Also in the report, some told the CRTC they believe it’s responsible for the way TV is currently delivered in Canada and suggested the regulatory body be “abolished” because its regulations prevent choice.

It also found that Canadians are divided on the role of the CBC, which broadcasters must carry.

“They think that they should not be forced to receive the CBC as part of their package of broadcasting services. Other think that there is a need for a strong national public broadcaster as it is currently constituted…”

The CRTC says it’s next step will be an interactive questionnaire that will include looking at some of the trade-offs associated with changing how TV is delivered. A public hearing on the future of the television system will be held in September.