The largest national telecommunications companies in Canada offering TV services are Telus, Bell, Shaw, and Rogers. Some provinces also have region specific providers, such as Aliant (Bell) in Atlantic Canada, and Sasktel in Saskatchewan.
Bell and Telus offer both digital and satellite TV services. Rogers and Shaw offer digital TV services.
Almost all providers offer HD, On Demand, PVR, and multiple interest-specific channel packages (movies, sports, music, education, etc) at additional charges.
Basic digital packages start at $20 per month, enhanced HD services start at $82/month, and full-tier TV services start at $80/month.
Satellite services start at $36 per month for basic service and $110 per month for premium services.
Be aware that many companies advertise introductory price offers, and that per monthly fees are likely to increase after the intiial 3, 6, or 12 months of your contract. You may also be charged monthly fees to rent a receiver or satellite from your provider.
GST and PST or HST is payable on all TV services in Canada, including installation fees.
While installation fees are applicable, some providers may offer free installation as an incentive. TV services in Canada can usually be bundled with Internet, telephone, and mobile for extra savings. TV services are normally offered on 1, 2 and 3-year contracts. Disconnection fees are applicable if you break your contract.
Most TV providers are moving towards offering a variety of online TV services.
Many TV providers in Canada are beginning to link mobile phone apps to TV services, allowing you to control your TV with your phone or computer, or set TV recordings or reminders on your mobile. Some providers are also offering apps directly on your TV.
Most TV service providers allow you to access your account and pay bills online, by telephone, or personally at an office or outlet.
Setting up service
To set up TV service, contact your local TV service provider. You should shop around to get the best deal for your needs. Packages and pricing information can easily be found online. You can also sign up and pay for new services online.
You will be asked to set up an account with your provider by providing all of your basic contact information (name, address, telephone number, email address). You may also be asked to provide a credit card number and/or credit history. If you do not have a credit history in Canada you may be required to put down a deposit on your account.
Review and sign your purchase contract, and arrange an installation date with your provider. Be advised that you may be required to get permission from your landlord or property manager to install certain satellite and TV services, particularly if your installer will be drilling through interior or exterior walls.
TV programming in Canada is available predominantly in English, except in Quebec where it is predominantly French. International programming in other languages is available through satellite TV providers.
Daily television programming in Canada begins at 6am, usually with a local or national morning show. Daytime programming, including children’s shows, talk shows, and soap operas, follows.
Regulations in Canada mandate that 50-60% of programming on Canadian stations is of domestic origin, including domestic newscasts, daytime talk shows, comedies, current affairs programs, and dramas. The majority of programming in peak times (7 to 11pm) is of foreign origin, mostly American.
Since Canada incorporates several time zones, the same program may be aired in Canada at different times. CBC Television is one of the only TV stations that airs television programs at local times.
Canada has two publicly funded TV networks: CBC Television (English) and Television de-Radio Canada (French).
Private national networks include CTV, Global, and TVA. CTV is the country’s most-watched network. These major networks, and CBC, are moving towards offering much of their programming online, allowing Canadians to watch online TV for free for a limited time.
Other Canadian networks include Citytv, CTV Two, V, APTN, Omni Television, Joytv, and CTS.
By Jess Gerrow, who traded city life in Canada for island life in the Mediterranean two years ago. She is a postgraduate marketing student, blogger, and freelance writer.