LETTERS: ‘Skinny’ TV taxes rest of us


Who is really benefitting from the new CRTC rules on cheaper cable-company TV plans?



Who is really benefitting from the new CRTC rules on cheaper cable-company TV plans?

The CRTC claims this legislation is intended to help people who can not afford even a basic cable package to have at least some access to local and Canadian television.

An email from the CRTC to me: “During the extensive public process, we heard from viewers who could not afford cable or satellite services and had lost their over-the-air local television services. The new policy is designed to offer a smaller service for those people who choose not to subscribe to and pay for unwanted channels or extra services like PVRs.”

All well and good to be helping out the poorest of the poor, but really, if someone couldn’t afford Shaw’s current $43 basic service, does any rational person believe the poor could afford $25 per month instead?

On the other hand, someone like myself who subscribes to the $43 basic cable with a free PVR – and who could do with fewer channels if it was going to save me $18 per month – will soon find out that the free PVR will now cost $15 per month, bringing my cost back to $40 with less than half the channels!

So, if the poor still can’t afford cable, and the rest of us won’t save much by switching to the “skinny” plan, who exactly has benefitted from this costly exercise mandated by the former Harper government?

The answer is the provincial tax man! Every cable subscriber in B.C. will notice, if they are paying attention, that the PST portion of tax has just jumped up by $1.26 per month. Nothing else has changed.

The reason is PST is not charged on cable companies’ basic package, in my case a tax break on $43. Now that the basic cable cost is mandated to be $25, tax is charged on any amount above. Thanks to the CRTC, my cable bill just went up by $1.26 per month, even though I have not changed anything!

This whole exercise smacks of just another tax grab, albeit to help out this province’s tax intake it seems. The poorest still won’t have TV cable and the middle class, already shouldering the biggest tax burden of all Canadians, get shafted again!

If taxation rules are similar in other provinces, they all stand to reap millions in additional revenue!

Forest McCready, Surrey