Community Media Education Society



Shaw Cable Rate Deregulation

Secretary General
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0N2

Re: 2002-0420-7

Regarding Shaw cable rate deregulation in greater Vancouver, I don't think Shaw should use deregulation as the first step to get out of supporting Canadian television production. In particular, I think the cable levy should support independent community television production, as is now proposed (2001-129) by the CRTC.

The calculation used by Michael Ferras, Shaw's director of regulatory planning, depends on loopholes such as counting subscriber losses while not counting subscriber gains. There's ambiguity over the audit, over whether it was the Rogers audit that was used, and over what was counted.

The CRTC rule exists to promote fair competition among broadcast distributors. In the greater Vancouver area Shaw has over 600,000 customers. Novus, the other licensed cable company, has about 3,000. Did Shaw lose the claimed 12.8% of subscribers to Bell Express Vu, the competing satellite provider, or did most of them go to Star Choice, Shaw's own subsidiary satellite company? Is Shaw complaining about competition from its own subsidiary?

Raising rates may not be the only goal of this deregulation. Shaw has already shown, by its commercialization of the community channel, that it only obeys the regulations it likes. Advertising on the community channel turns it into a fast growing revenue source instead of a public service.

If the company can dominate the regulator, then perhaps the CRTC's emphasis on a distinctively Canadian voice in our broadcasting system can also be ignored.

If the governments we elect fail to protect the public interest, then soon those governments will be too weak to protect the same companies that now want deregulation. Deregulation can never be a long term solution. The Canadian people think of the CRTC as our broadcast guardian. The CRTC has to find a compromise here, ideally one that leads to genuine competition.



Richard Ward
Executive Director, C.M.E.S.
Community Media Education Society

 Home | About us | News | Links | Join CMES