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Discussion Starter #1
Access took a (planned!) outage overnight to add some of the HD channels that customers have been coveting on other services:

HD History Channel
2nd Movie Central HD
HD AMC movies
HD Setanta
 

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I was scrolling through the guide last night and noticed the new channels.. finally got AMC HD which I was excited to see. They were playing some decent movies on it, but then I noticed they were edited for language and was disappointed. I guess it'll be worth watching for the new seasons of Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and Walking Dead at least.. can't stand watching movies with swears dubbed out.

I'm also sort of annoyed by the theme pack locations.. AMC HD is moving into the HD Plus theme with Discovery, etc. Since I'm paying for the standard def version of AMC I don't agree with having to pay for another theme to get the HD version of that same channel. I like the Sasktel model where you pay for the basic HD package and then get all the specialty HD channels at no extra charge as long as you've got a subscription to the SD version of that channel.. only problem with their model is that they separate a lot of the SD channels I want into different SD themes anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
How do you know they are going to put AMC HD into a separate tier like that? Even Access isn't sneaky enough to try and double charge customers to buy both the HD and low-def version of the same channel. Plus I thought the broadcast rules prevent all TV providers from doing sleazy double dips like that don't they?
 

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On the Access website, they have a big ad for the new channels. If you "click here to learn more" it gives you details on which channels are launched and what theme pack they're in. AMC and History are being put in HD Plus with Discovery and WGN. CNN is in HD Basic (which is no charge as long as you subscribe to another HD theme and for linkage rules it requires that you're subscribed to the SD version).

It's definitely annoying how they package the HD channels like that, I'm not sure about any broadcast rules preventing it though. It's the same way for some other channels, I subscribe to TLC in Tier 2, but you also need to subscribe to HD Premium theme to get TLC HD.

The one that really gets me is the HD Basic theme.. you can't actually subscribe to it (since it's "free"), so if you want channels in that theme, you have to subscribe to a completely unrelated theme pack to receive your "free" channels. I guess paying $16/month for a quickly depreciating HD PVR isn't enough to get some "free" channels (that I'm already paying for the SD versions of).
 

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And now for some on-topic new channel discussion:

AMC would be great if they didn't edit their movies for content. It will be nice to get the next season of AMC original series in HD, now that I'm caught up watching the latest Mad Men episodes.

History is okay, watched part of a Pawn Stars episode and some show about tanks that I wouldn't have sat through on standard def. History played a promo that Top Gear is going to be premiering on March 30, that should be good.

CNN doesn't come in for me for some reason, I might have to call in about that one since I should have access to the channel whether it's on free preview or not. I never usually watch CNN anyway though, so no big deal either way.

Movie Central HD2 - I cancelled the MC package since I found I wasn't watching it much.

Setanta - Don't have that either, not a big soccer fan.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Ack, you're right. I should have known better, assuming Access would do something customer-focused for once. Maybe next decade...

You are correct, they've done the tried and true method of packing 1 or 2 good channels in with with garbage channels.

Every time I look at the channel lineup and customer options I shake my head at how devilishly clever and anti-customer it is.

Looking at our subscription, I think for every one we like there are 6 to 10 we either don't care about or actively don't like.

If you ask, they first tell you it's government mandated. If you challenge them to back that up with facts, then they realize you aren't that stupid and the opening lie isn't going to work on you. So then they start to tell you it's about packaging and blah blah blah. They use sneaky wording to imply it's not their choice to do this. They present a fiction that they aren't in control of their own business and that channel packages just wander in from the television meadow in groups that a nuclear force couldn't separate.

Now, I am told there is someone in the universe who actually wants the Big Ten channel that I'm forced to pay for. And they claim they have customers rabidly demanding the Golf, Raptors and Score channels as well. I can hardly believe it, but I can't really prove that's not true either.

So in the end I'm forced to pay for 7 channels to get the single one (HD-NET) that I want. Access tells me it is a sports channel and I should enjoy paying for 6 unwatched and unwanted channels.

At first I tried to figure out how NASA launches and rock concerts are a sport but according to them the channel is most mixed martial arts and that's why it's mandatory to buy it with Golf... because so many people are fans of both Golf and Ultimate Fighting apparently.

OK then, I say why can't there be channel swapping?

It would be a system whereby customers could pick single channels, and Access just has to manage and make sure they have compliant group totals.

Jethro wants Big Ten Channel, and I want HD NET, and Luther wants Golf. Great, 3 happy customers, 3 lower bills, Access still makes the same margin on the wholesale.

In the event that a few more people want Golf than want Big Ten, then practice simple inventory management, like every other competent industry.

It's no different business model than a butcher who takes a cow and sells it in pieces as steak, wieners, and hamburger to different customers, based on what those customers actually want and are willing to buy.

The way Access does it, every customer who wants to buy a hot dog is forced to pay for a whole overpriced cow and throw out a ton of meat they never wanted in the first place.

Someone will no doubt say "but lots of people will want the steak, and you only get so much steak per cow."

OK then, charge accordingly, just like how ribeye costs more per pound than blade. That would minimize waste and better serve the customer. That's what my butcher does, but he's not as advanced I suppose.

TSN might fetch $2/sub and Big Ten channel would fetch, let's be generous and say 5 cents. HD NET might be about 25 cents and Golf 50 cents. The market would decide, as it should. And if they have a lot of extra Score channel laying around, they could say to the steak buying customers "Hey you want me to tuck in some extra Score channel with your T-bones? We can't sell this, but you can give it to your dog!"
 

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The channel packaging annoys me sometimes.. so I was checking out SaskTel's page and saw the HD theme packaging was brilliantly simple.. pay $10 for HD Standard (or whatever they call it), and then you get any other specialty HD channel as long as you have the corresponding SD channel. The problem is that I was checking the SD line-up and they scatter all the channels I'd want into different SD themes.. so I guess it all depends on which flavor of evil channel packing you like :p

As for the information/misinformation about why the channels are packaged the way they are, I know about that all too well. Some of the CSRs can be confused/poorly trained and give out wrong info.. There are some CRTC rulings which dictate which channels have to be included in the "basic" package, like local channels being in basic cable, etc. I'm guessing not all the employees understand the difference. There are some networks that want to regulate it a bit, like if you're selling our good channel, we want to make sure people are getting our 3 sub-par channels along with it.

As for HDNet, that's not in the HD Action theme anymore (I think it was at first launch), it's been put into the newish HD Basic theme which is "free" for HD subscribers (you require a subscription to at least 1 HD theme to get it, plus any SD subscription requirements for individual channels).

I would love to be able to do a "Pick-5" theme for HD channels. The freedom to not be stuck with Treasure, Oasis and EqHD just to watch something on Showcase or TLC would be nice.. I kind of feel cheated when there's something decent on TLC and I'd have to watch it on SD since I don't want to pay for the HD Premium package.
 

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Decent and TLC do not belong in the same sentence.
What, you don't like non-stop little people and cake shows?? Hah, good point. Occasionally there'll be a show the girlfriend will be watching and seeing it in SD when you know there's an HD version available just bothers me.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Ha, it has kind of evolved into the Cake network, but there are still some great programs on there.

It does illustrate that there is huge opportunity to use the butcher shop model. For every customer that resents paying for TLC, there is someone else who wishes they could just pay for TLC and not have to pay for some other garbage channel that the first person likes!
 

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FX Canada

Does anyone is Access going to carry FX Canada? Since it sounds like they are out of cable bandwidth I'm guessing not anytime soon. That's why we don't have TWN in HD, locals in HD either, etc.

I also noticed since I upgraded to the new package and got all 15 theme packs that 133/134/135/139 isn't available at all. Since only the old theme pack has those channels, they should axe them along with some others in basic cable to make bandwidth available (or at move them to digital) as I'm guessing digital channels take up less space than analog.

Just a thought...and a question I guess too haha.
 

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I also noticed since I upgraded to the new package and got all 15 theme packs that 133/134/135/139 isn't available at all. Since only the old theme pack has those channels, they should axe them along with some others in basic cable to make bandwidth available (or at move them to digital) as I'm guessing digital channels take up less space than analog.
You're right about analog channels taking a ton of bandwidth compared to digital. The only problem is that killing the analog feeds would alienate a lot of customers who just want cable TV without having to get a digital set-top box for each TV which apparently is a decent selling point for cable over SaskTel's service.

Having to figure out how to get their TV on channel 3/the right input and use the cable box remote for changing channels is VERY frustrating for some people, especially a lot of elderly cable customers. :)
 

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Alot of newer tv's have built in digital cable tuners capable of tuning in clear QAM channels. As more and more people upgrade to newer technology access could simply switch to sending the basic channels in unencrypted digital form. Right now the free previews are available to people without digital set top boxes if your tv has a built in digital tuner. I can currently get SUN new channel, bold, documentary, cosmo, voice print, and one of the Seattle radio stations in digital as well as the regular analog cable channels.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
As usual, Access Communications is way behind the curve on new HD channels... no sign of FX, no sign of Discovery, etc.
 

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I noticed MTS launched a whole whack of new channels, YTV HD, etc as SaskTel launched Hollywood Suite. I've been an Access subscriber since the beginning of time but I'm seriously contemplating switching to SaskTel because Access is soooooo slow launching new channels.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Indeed, the slumbering, lumbering Access Communications keeps sliding further behind.

The new line they promised us in February, June and August still isn't installed. Even now in the warmest December in recent memory, they're saying it's too cold to work on.

The 25% loyal customer discount still isn't active.

They've created a misleading trap where loyal customers must either pay more than temporary customers for equipment rentals, services, or both.

There's release dates for channels like Discovery, FX, and Hollywood Suite that the rest of the industry added long ago.

And they totally blew the national conversion to digital back in August, then slept through they own tardy deadlines.

It all adds to a legacy of over promising and under-delivering.

The one positive is they still have HD NET. Although one doesn't really know if the only reason they still have it is that the project to disconnect it has fallen months or years behind schedule like everything else.
 
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