Rogers says Canadian TV industry must offer viewers more choice

Mon Nov 25, 2013 5:19pm EST
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - Rogers Communications Inc, one of Canada's biggest cable companies, said on Monday the entire industry must be willing to offer viewers more choice when selling television packages even if that means some channels ultimately fail.

The Toronto-based company, whose television service is centered in Ontario but also serves the Atlantic provinces, said it believes most Canadians want bulk packages but those that don't have a hearty TV appetite shouldn't have to upsize their order.

The comments come after Canada's Conservative government pledged last month to push cable and satellite television providers to offer more flexibility. The move was part of a broader pro-consumer push aimed at regaining voter support ahead of a federal election in 2015.

The industry has warned that scrapping the current model of 'all-you-can-eat' fare risks pushing prices up for everyone.

In order to offer smaller packages, Rogers and other distributors must reach fresh deals with content owners that allow for flexibility, Rogers' Chief Marketing Officer John Boynton said.

He warned that if channel owners charge too much, they risk driving more customers to online alternatives.

"The economics don't work if everybody doesn't move together," Boynton said in an interview. "We have been pushing very hard to include packaging flexibility."

If channels fail without the protection of being bundled with more popular channels, Boynton said they don't deserve to survive.   Continued...

A woman walks by a sign at the Rogers Communications headquarters building on the day of their annual general meeting for shareholders in Toronto, April 25, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch