That scamarama in Ottawa this week aimed at stealing more cable fees out of your pocket took up all of today's discussion with CHML's Hamilton Talk Radio host Scott Thompson. You can listen to the rant here.
Bottom line, Rogers and other Canadian cable and satellite providers have run out of bright shiny objects to flash at consumers and entice more cable package bundling. They want HBO, Showtime, The USA Network, ESPN, Nickelodeon and other U.S. cable "forbidden fruit" to expand their product line and squeeze more revenue out of consumers.
They come aimed with polls that say cable subscribers really want this stuff. Well, some do, maybe. If you are a Michigan State fan, you need a grey market satellite dish to get your college football or basketball fix. ESPN 2 on Star Choice, Bell, Shaw or Rogers would be a nice, legal way to wave the Spartan flag.
Otherwise, who needs HBO? The station is in a slump, as has been argued here before. Anything it currently has worth watching, like John Adams or The Flight Of The Conchords, is already before Canadians, day and date, on The Movie Network and Movie Central.
Or it is available on the Internet if you are relentless, resourceful and know where to look and how to download. That's what really has the cable companies, the networks and everybody else in Canadian TV freaked--technology has made an end run around the CRTC. People watch shows, not stations or networks, just as they listen to songs, not stations or record companies. No poll is going to fix that, as the music industry can attest.
Other polls released the other day suggest that Canadians don't trust cable companies and do love and cherish Canadian TV production. This just in--Canadians also like babies and don't like rain. As John Diefenbaker once put it, polls are for dogs.
The only poll that matters is the weekly ratings poll, which shows Canadians embrace and consume American television fare almost to the exclusion of home grown productions. Sixteen of the Top 20 most-watched TV shows in Canada the week of March 24-30 were American hits like American Idol, Dancing With The Stars and CSI: Miami. The exceptions were the CTV Evening News (the local, supper hour one, not Lloyd, at No. 8), Hockey Night in Canada (No. 14), the weekend edition of CTV Evening News (18) and curling coverage on CBC (20).
This against a week of U.S. series reruns as shows still hadn't returned from the strike. If this is how the CRTC has protected us from the evil flood of U.S. fare, maybe they should just take all that money wasted on hearings and lobbying and protectionism and spread it among Canadian producers who can give us the SHOWS--not the networks or carriers--we want to watch.