Can I pick my own TV channels?

As of December 1st, 2016, licensed TV service providers have to offer both pick-and-pay and small packages of up to 10 channels.

First, what’s your situation?

I already have a cable/satellite package

Great! Your current package may still be the best option for you for the time being or you might want to switch to the basic package + pick and pay or small package options.

The first thing you want to do is to check with your provider to see if your current package (which might have discounts) is still the best option for you.

Since March 1, 2016, you can subscribe to an affordable basic TV package that costs no more than $25 per month (not including equipment).

This package has to include:

  • Local and regional TV stations
  • Channels with mandatory distribution
  • Community and provincial legislature channels (where available)
  • Provincial/territorial educational channels

It might also include:

  • Other Canadian over-the-air stations
  • Local AM and FM radio stations
  • Stations affiliated with commercial American networks (ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC) and PBS
  • Educational channels of another province or territory in each official language (if no educational channel is offered)

You also have more options to add to that service as TV service providers must offer channels either individually or in packages of up to 10 channels. As of December 1, 2016, they have to offer both options.

This might not be less expensive than your current package so make sure you weigh the pros and cons of switching to the basic + pick and pay/small package options.

Be sure to ask your TV provider if you can return to your previous package if you don’t like the new options after you try them.

Note: We don’t regulate the prices companies charge.

Want to Switch Providers?

If you’re not happy with your current provider, you can switch. Find service providers near you.

Your current cable/satellite company CANNOT charge you disconnection fees. If they do, fill out our complaint form so that we can follow-up.

Do make sure:

  • Your new provider can actually deliver service in your area! Sometimes there are restrictions because of mountains or infrastructure. Contact the new service provider to make sure.
  • You weigh the pros and cons of switching. You might lose some of the benefits of your current cable/satellite package if you switch. For example, your TV service might be discounted because you also have phone services with the company. Have an honest conversation with your provider. Fill out our checklist before you call to figure out your needs and your budget.
  • You pay for services you have received up to your disconnection date. However, if you are in a contract, you may be required to pay an early termination fee.
  • You return your provider’s equipment, as stated in their terms of service, or you might need to pay additional fees.

I am thinking about getting a cable/satellite package

First, find a service provider near you and make sure they offer service in your area (sometimes mountains or buildings can prevent you from getting service).

Once you pick a company, you can either

  • Choose from the regular packages they offer where you cannot pick and pay for individual channels; OR
  • Pay for the basic package and add individual channels or packages of channels to the basic packageFootnote 1.

Since March 1, 2016, you can subscribe to an affordable basic TV package that costs no more than $25 per month (not including equipment).

This package has to include:

  • Local and regional TV stations
  • Channels with mandatory distribution
  • Community and provincial legislature channels (where available)
  • Provincial/territorial educational channels

It might also include:

  • Other Canadian over-the-air stations
  • Local AM and FM radio stations
  • Stations affiliated with commercial American networks (ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC) and PBS
  • Educational channels of another province or territory in each official language (if no educational channel is offered)

You also have more options to add to that service as TV service providers must offer channels either individually or in packages of up to 10 channels. As of December 1, 2016, they will have to offer both options.

Be sure to ask your TV provider if you can return to your previous package if you don’t like the new options after you try them.

Note: We don’t regulate the prices companies charge.

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