Nevertheless, the money had to come from somewhere and that was outlined in the above-linked CRTC policy determination document:
The Commission has considered whether the 1% of gross revenues of licensed BDUs to be contributed to the LPIF would provide sufficient support for local programming in non-metropolitan markets, either on a short-term or longer-term basis. In light of the evidence presented during the course of the Hearing, the Commission determines that it would be appropriate to increase the LPIF contribution by licensed BDUs from 1.0% to 1.5% of gross revenues for the 2009-2010 broadcast year.
The Commission is of the view that, based on evidence on the public record of the proceeding, the figure of 1.5% – estimated to be approximately $102 million – will provide sufficient support to ensure that Canadians in non-metropolitan markets will continue to receive local programming in the 2009-2010 broadcast year.
Okay. Pretty straightforward...BDU's kick in some dough to help out, with no mention of 'a tax', no mention of 'fees', and certainly no mention of it coming out of the consumers pocket.
And yet a letter is being sent out to Rogers TV customers informing them that the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) requires a new 1.5% service fee for "The Local Programming Improvement Fund (LPIF)".
Starting on your first bill after August 31, 2009, you will see a new line on your invoice called CRTC LPIF fee, and a corresponding charge of 1.5% of your recurring TV monthly service fee. The 1.5% that is collected goes directly to the CRTC's Local Programming Improvement Fund (LPIF). Rogers Cable receives no financial benefit from the LPIF fee. All other aspects of your service will remain the same.
Bell TV also released a similar statement:
Bell is extremely disappointed by the CRTC's latest decisions regarding this TV tax and, in order to meet the CRTC's orders without impacting the current and future quality of its products and services, Bell will apply a monthly fee to customer billing which will not exceed 1.5% of Bell TV charges incurred on and after September 1, 2009.
I've not seen any others yet but I've read that Shaw cable and other cable companies and satellite companies are following suit.
So I wrote the CRTC asking whether this so-called 'fee' should be charged back to the customer. And the reply:
"Thank you for your message.
The CRTC established a Local Programming Improvement Fund (LPIF) to conserve and improve local television programming. In establishing the appropriate level of contributions to be paid by cable/satellite companies to broadcast local programming, the CRTC considered a number of factors including the ability by cable/satellite companies to contribute to the Canadian broadcasting system. Given their reported profits, the CRTC is of the view that there is no justification to pass the cost on to consumers. If your cable/satellite company has decided to increase the fees for your service, it is a business decision that is not regulated or mandated by the CRTC.
Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention and allowing us to clarify the issue"
Okay...understood...no justification to pass the cost on to consumers....gotcha. But they are. So, um, what are you going to do about that, CRTC?
Talk about passing the buck (after somebody takes it first, of course). And talk about tired of trying to think about and deal with and write something remotely positive about all this stuff without resorting to a big WTF...I know I am.