It happened on Oct. 29, but it seems few people either noticed or cared. The first news story came out two weeks later that Radio-Canada has stopped livestreaming of its RDI all-news network online.
The reason? “Faciliter les discussions avec les câblodistributeurs”.
Some reaction online (including the video above) was negative, suggesting that Radio-Canada doesn’t get it, that we own the corporation and that the cable companies have nothing to fear from online streaming.
Here’s what gets me though: RDI is a must-carry network for cable and satellite. There’s no choice in the matter. The CBC even forced StarChoice to include it as part of its “English essentials” basic package last year. Because of this, the wholesale rate is set by the CRTC: $1 for RDI in francophone markets and $0.10 in anglophone markets.
So, what kind of discussions are we talking about here? There’s nothing to negotiate.
Besides, RDI isn’t the only one doing this. CPAC, the political affairs channel funded by the cable and satellite companies, also streams for free online. In fact, it annoyingly starts playing automatically when you go to the CPAC website.
I understand the worry from cable and satellite companies: if broadcasters stream all their stuff for free, then consumers might realize they’re being gouged and start cancelling their television services.
But for the public broadcaster to pull its feed, to intentionally deny access to its services from Canadians, solely to please the cable and satellite industry, that’s outrageous.
I sent an email to Alain Saulnier, who was quoted in the Cyberpresse piece, asking for clarification, but there was no response.
This is totally unacceptable. CBC/Radio-Canada is acting as if it was a subsidized private broadcaster. Why can’t they just be a real public broadcaster and act as such?
“RDI is a must-carry network for cable and satellite. There’s no choice in the matter.”
That’s the major point: The CRTC is imposing programming on the Canadian audience. Do away with that and let consumers choose what they want to subcribe to. It’s interesting how neither the cable/sat companies nor the networks bring this up during their infamous debate. I think most Canadians are oblivious to the fact that they are forced to pay for a certain amount of Canadian programming as part of their basic package.
Actually, the concept of a “skinny basic” cable or satellite package is a big part of this CRTC debate. Most of the people presenting to the commission have been asked about the idea of having only a few absolutely necessary cable networks and local over-the-air channels as part of a basic package and letting consumers decide what other services they want on top of that.
That said, RDI and CBC News Network would probably still be part of the basic service, because they’re products of the public broadcaster.
Kind of shows you how serious the CBC/SRC are about being a public broadcaster, and serving the public that finances it. None!
If the CBC/SRC where really interested in serving the public, they would have placed RDI, and CBC News Network on sub-channles of their digital over the air broadcast. Example, for CBFT-DT it would appear as 2.2, and for CBMT-DT it would appear as 6.2.
2.1 – SRC main HD program
2.2 – RDI in SD
6.1 – CBC main HD program
6.2 – CBC News Network in SD
Hell, they can even do…
2.1 – SRC Main HD program
2.2 – RDI in SD
2.3 – CBC News Network in SD
But, hell no! Let’s suck more money from cable subscribers by making them pay for something their taxes finance anyway. Somehow I almost wish the Harper government would go in their and gut the whole thing and start over again with a new and proper mandate.
CRTC doesn’t allow subchannels except SD and HD feeds of the same channel.
It shouldn’t be that way of course, just see what’s happening across the border.