That substantial jump in most people's cost of watching television is almost certainly what's at stake in the fierce battle now raging between TV companies and the cable and satellite deliverers of television into our homes.
The TV companies – most notably CBC, CTV and Global – say they are entitled to a share of the vast sums collected from the public by cable and satellite deliverers of TV signals.
These television companies claim, surely disingenuously, that cable and satellite companies could hand over a share of their current profits without raising consumer prices.
Wait. That's not how the marketplace works. No retailer – however wildly profitable the business – can be expected to incur increased costs without seeking a similar increase in revenue. Rogers is a public company, after all, and must file quarterly earnings reports to anxious shareholders who don't like to see declining revenues.
And the only source of revenue is the public.
But just how much are the TV companies seeking from cable and satellite companies?
The answer is this: As much as $1 per month, per over-the-air TV channel, in the area served by that channel. That figure came from Jan Innes, vice-president of communications for Rogers, the cable company that serves the Ottawa area.
There are 13 channels available over the air in the Ottawa area, according to Ms. Innes. So if this formula was adopted, local viewers could pay as much as $13 a month extra to watch TV delivered by cable or satellite.
It would be up to each cable and satellite provider to decide whether to make consumers pay all or part of any sum turned over to the likes of CBC, CTV and Global.
The cost of digital basic cable in Ottawa is now about $30 a month. This basic service is the minimum required to receive CBC, CTV and Global for the vast majority of TV viewers.
And publicly owned CBC is just as gung-ho about plundering – excuse me, sharing – the profits of cable and satellite companies as are CTV and Global.
CBC president Hubert Lacroix said: "It's time for (cable and satellite companies) to start contributing to the survival of the system that has made them rich, without consumers being penalized."
Excuse me, Mr. Lacroix, would you like to share your paycheque with me? It's generated out of public money, after all.
If not, why do you expect cable and satellite suppliers to share their paycheques with you?
The CBC is already handsomely subsidized by Canadian taxpayers, and gets additional revenue from TV commercials that constantly interrupt our enjoyment of hockey games and other programming. But now it wants "fair compensation."
The whole thing has made CBC, CTV and Global appear rather sneaky, almost wanting cable and satellite companies to do their dirty work for them.
Not true, says Steven Guiton, CBC's chief regulatory officer. "We cannot just arbitrarily set a price for our product," he said, adding that's why TV companies want to negotiate a price with the cable and satellite providers.
The deliverers of TV signals are adamantly opposed. Ms. Innes of Rogers said the cable companies only make about six per cent profit on revenues. And, she added, the cable company doesn't see why it or the public should have to pay for TV signals available for free over the air.
But despite the high stakes, the public shouldn't t hold its breath awaiting an outcome to hearings being held by the the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
It is expected to decide early in the new year whether to direct the companies to negotiate a revenue-sharing plan.
But the government regulator has a vested interest in protecting TV companies, since it sees them as a tool to promote Canadian content and culture.
Regardless, if the public is going to have to pay more than it already does – directly or indirectly – to watch CBC, CTV and Global, then the public must have the freedom to choose whether to purchase these services in any cable or satellite package they buy.
And it would likely take an act of Parliament to require the cable and satellite companies to give the public that freedom.