There will be cheaper cable TV packages available across Canada on Tuesday, but residents in La Ronge and other areas will have to wait a little longer before they can opt in for the so-called “skinny cable” services.
The new rules are regulated and mandated by the CRTC, Canada’s broadcast regulator. All licensed cable companies have to offer a basic cable package for no more than $25 a month effective March 1.
Access spokesperson Tami Mitchell says Access is not compelled to offer the $25 a month service to everyone. She says the ruling applies only to communities where Access is licensed, which is only Regina and White City.
“But we wanted to offer this into as many communities as we could so that is why customers can enjoy this in Weyburn, Estevan, Yorkton and the Battlefords and our whole plan is to offer something similar through our other digital communities.”
Despite that, Access is going to offer the service to as many communities as it can, as quickly as it can. It will mean upgrading from analog to digital in some areas, while in others it is a simple switchover to a new bundle with fewer channels and a smaller monthly price tag of $25.
Getting on board is a little more complicated for the cooperative than for Sasktel, which started offering “skinny packages” on Feb. 1 in the 27 communities it serves, Mitchell said.
Equipment upgrades are needed in some areas and it will take a while to make the package more widely available.
“So we are looking for different options for La Ronge and some of our other digital communities,” Mitchell said. “Because we have a different sort of system up there we have to work through some technical challenges to be able to offer it, but our plan is to offer a skinny-type package.”
Mitchell couldn’t provide a hard timeline on when the service will be available in La Ronge or the dozens of other communities Access serves.
Access will have more information on the new services on its website on Tuesday. Initially, six communities – including Regina, Estevan, Weyburn, North Battleford and Yorkton – will have the new service.
Over the next few months, more than 20 additional communities will be added.