Bell TV (formerly Bell ExpressVu) announced on Friday that it will begin offering à la carte packages for customers in Quebec, in an obvious response to Videotron, which already offers à la carte packages.
Here's a comparison chart to give you an idea of how they match head-to-head on à la carte packages:
|Basic + 15 à la carte||$37||$40|
|Basic + 20 à la carte||$39||$44|
|Basic + 30 à la carte||$47||$47|
|1 extra channel||$2||$2|
|5 extra channels||$5||N/A ($2x5=$10)|
|10 extra channels||$10||N/A ($2x10=$20)|
|15 extra channels||N/A ($5+$10=$15)||$15|
|20 extra channels||$15||$19|
|30 extra channels||N/A ($10+$15=$25)||$22|
Both Bell and Videotron tack on a $3 "network access fee" and a 1.5% LPIF fee, neither of which are included in their advertised prices (and aren't included in this table). None of the prices include installation, equipment rental, or bundle rebates (which is why Bell's basic rates are $10 more than advertised).
It's no coincidence that Bell's basic + 30 is the same price as Videotron's, that's the whole point behind Bell's offering, which is only available in Quebec. People in Ontario who might want to benefit from this aren't allowed to for no good reason other than Bell is better able to screw them over.
CBC asked the Competition Bureau about this obviously targetted pricing, but they said it would actually increase competition between Bell and Videotron in Quebec, and be good for consumers here. That's true, but it's obviously unfair to consumers in Ontario and elsewhere who won't have à la carte packages for the sole reason that Bell doesn't have a competitor in those areas willing to offer that option.
The CRTC should look into this, and consider requiring direct-to-home satellite providers to give the same options to customers in all areas unless provincial or local regulations make different demands.
UPDATE: Elias Makos points out something I hadn't noticed: Bell excludes a number of popular channels from its à la carte offering, including CNN, A&E, TLC, MuchMusic and Teletoon. You have to get a separate package for that.
In related news, Bell will also be offering remote DVR programming using Sling Media technology. This will be useful for people who forget to set their DVR to record a show while they're gone - now they can go online and remotely program it from the office or wherever they are.