Ottawa -- It's downsizing time at the Canadian Cable
By the end of this month, the CCTA will see its budget cut
by one-third, seven of its 33 staffers laid off and its Toronto field office moved to
The employees let go were largely staffers involved in a
CCTA subgroup known as vision.com.
Established in 1996, vision.com was meant to help Canada's
MSOs develop nationally branded products and services, just as the "Stentor"
alliance of Canadian telephone companies aimed to do.
Tactically, vision.com had three immediate goals: to
prepare the cable-TV industry's arguments for the government's
telecommunications-deregulation hearings, to launch high-speed Internet access via cable
and to introduce a new package of English-language cable channels.
But three years later, the reasons for vision.com's
creation no longer exist: The telecommunications hearings are long over, and vision.com's
Internet-service branding, "Wave," was soon dropped by top MSOs Shaw
Communications Inc. and Rogers Cablesystems Ltd. as they signed up with Excite@Home. On
top of that, the new package of English-language cable channels was successfully launched.
All of this might not have killed vision.com if the Stentor
alliance -- which Canadian cable companies feared -- was still viable. But infighting
between two of Stentor's members -- Telus Corp. and Bell Canada International Inc. -- led
to an almost complete reduction of its scope.
With the phone companies having abandoned national
branding, there was little impetus for the country's cable-TV industry to do likewise. The
result: vision.com became redundant.
"The principal reason [for disbanding vision.com] is
that the need to spend the funds was diminished in the view of the members," said
interim CCTA president David Watt, who previously served as the trade group's senior vice
president of technology, economics and telecommunications. "I think everybody wants
to save money whenever they can."
Watts himself is being downsized out of a job, and he will
return to Rogers, where he worked before joining the CCTA.