Cable could be getting more expensive

If you stayed loyal to your cable company during the cord-cutting frenzy of 2016, they’ve found the perfect way to thank you: a more expensive bill, which could be arriving soon if the CRTC approves a price bump for "skinny" cable packages.
Driving the news: Four of the country's cable television providers are petitioning the federal broadcasting regulator to allow them to "increase the maximum retail price of the small basic service from $25 to $28 and to implement a yearly indexing mechanism for inflation."
  • Bell, Cogeco, SaskTel and FastLink have proposed to bump the price of "skinny" or basic cable package by 12%.

  • "Skinny" cable is barebones broadcasting that includes local and regional stations and "must carry" networks like CPAC and The Weather Network—no HBO or Showtime included.

Why it’s happening: Prices haven't changed since the CRTC introduced the requirement for companies to provide basic cable pricing in 2016.

  • Cable subscriptions have been in a steady decline since the introduction of streaming platforms. Raising base prices will pump some extra profits into the companies' coffers.
  • But before the CRTC approves the move, it wants feedback from the public about the "appropriateness" of the price hike.

Why it matters for your money: Is $3 a month a lot? Not really, but it’s not nothing either. Considering that Canadians spend $157 annually on streaming services, that 12% increase is an additional $36 you'll spend annually to stare into the black mirror.

Still entangled with cable? Here are some ways to cut your at-home entertainment costs.

  • Stream strategically. We've all been there—you subscribe to watch a must-see show and then spend the next months scrolling through titles you have no interest in. That's a signal to press pause on that sub and save some monthly fees.

  • Find your library card. Libraries aren't just for old books and getting scolded because you're not an expert in the Dewey Decimal system—you can get tons of content online for free, accessible with your library card.

  • Grab an antenna. It's not the bunny ears set up you remember as a kid—although those are still available. A one-time purchase will get you channels like CBC, Global and CTV (and if you’re close enough to the border, you might be able to pick up US channels like NBC and CBS that carry live sports).

Bottom line: Lately, we've been seeing prices on everything trend upwards—and no one asks permission. The CRTC is taking public comments until October 28, so if you've got an opinion, it's time to make your voice heard.