Telecom giants crush broke Quebecers

Ugh, media monopolies and oligarchies. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t PVR your stories without ‘em.

Photo by schmilblick via Flickr

Earlier today, I told you I once worked at the Concordia archives. Now I’m going to tell you about another job I used to have — I worked at the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement for four years.

Now, I can’t tell you about what I actually did there, as per the confidentiality agreement I signed. But! I can tell you that I TOTALLY called this when I first heard about the CRTC turning off the analog signal once and for all (well, sort of all).

Videotron is shutting down its analog cable operations because, as The Gazette’s Steve Faguy (aka Fagstein) reports, analog cable is sucking up precious bandwidth that could otherwise be used to sell people premium HD channels.

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, eh?

Those who got trapped in the switch to digital on Sept. 1, 2011 — that is, people too broke to afford cable and those with older TV sets — had few options on how to proceed. They could cough up the cash to buy a digital signal converter box, or buy a new TV with a built-in tuner or, finally, they could suck it up and opt for cable or satellite.

Many of those people migrated to analog cable, the cheapest step up, but which still ran between $20–30 a month.

But soon enough, that option will no longer exist, instead requiring subscribers to either pay up or get out. (We’re not holding our breath on whether they’ll give existing customers a break on digital cable subscription fees.)

Videotron is certainly not the first Canadian telecom to implement a switch to digital within its own network — Shaw started doing that a while ago — and it certainly won’t be the last to put frugal and/or broke-ass Canadians over a barrel. But it signals a dangerous precedent that smacks of hypocrisy, considering what happened just last week with the presidents of Videotron, Cogeco, Eastlink (and now Telus) flipping out over the unfair advantage Bell now has after buying Astral.

Ugh, media monopolies and oligarchies. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t PVR your stories without ‘em.

We’re not talking about buying Park Place here — we’re talking about seriously affecting Quebecers’, and eventually all Canadians’, livelihoods. The message being sent when affordable options are cut off is loud and clear: sucks to be broke, don’t it?

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