Four days after the Telecommunications Services of T&T (TSTT) launched a new television service, Columbus Communications (Flow), has announced it plans to add a total of 20 new channels to its cable line up. John Reid, president and chief operating officer at Flow, yesterday said the additional channels include one which will allow subscribers to view their bills on their television sets. "We decided about 20 new channels for TV and these are mixed between standard definition and high definition. The channels are some sport channels from the United States, and a 100 per cent Caribbean weather channel that we are launching in a couple of days. There would be some kids programming, a new cartoon network. There's an outdoor channel and another one which is called Wild," Reid said.
Flow already has more than 200 digital channels and just under 70 analog channels. Over the next few weeks, video customers can expect to see the additions to their digital basic, optional and high definition packages. Reid said when Flow launches the 20 channels, customers will have the opportunity to view the optional channels for free until December 31. In an interview with the Guardian yesterday, Reid said launch of the channels has been in the planning for months. "We had to make a bunch of changes anyway, so we decided to do it all at once. We decided to add a bunch of channels rather than adding one, adding one, so we deliberately waited until now to add," Reid said.
Start of a price war?
Reid's announcement came after TSTT announced on Tuesday that it was launching its television and security services. The television channels Blink Entertainment is offering, grouped into three packages at introductory prices, include:
Blink Lite at $99 per month and consists of more than 30 channels.
Blink Basic at $199 per month and consisting of 75 channels, plus more than $120 worth of additional channels.
Blink Advanced at $219 per month and consisting of more than 100 channels, plus $195 worth of additional channels.
Asked whether there would be any additional cost to Flow customers for the new channels the company plans to introduce, Reid said no, that some of the channels would be added to existing packages. "There's been one rate increase for basic cable subscribers with our company in Trinidad in seven years. It's almost unheard of in our industry. We try to control the cost so we cannot pass on the burdensome cost to our customers," Reid said. Describing the arrangement Flow entered into with all the international networks to carry their programming, Reid said it would not cost the company any huge sum of money to add the channels.
"It's just entering into an agreement and paying when subscribers pay you. It's not about Flow paying $50,000 for a contract. As our subscribers pay us, we pass that on to the content providers," Reid said. Reid said he is not deterred by competition, that competition is merely an opportunity to examine its services and determine how best they can be improved.