Friday, July 10, 2009

CRTC draws line in the sand on free digital TV

[Guest post from karenatcmg]

This week, the CRTC issued new policy on TV broadcasting. You likely heard about the apparent green light for fee-for-carriage, sorry, for broadcasters to get "fair market value" from cable and satellite companies in return for their channels being offered in the lineup. If not, there is coverage here, here and here. Headline: broadcasters rub hands in glee as cable co's cry foul.

What you may not have heard is that the CRTC also issued the list of Canadian cities where broadcasters must put up digital transmitters by August 2011. That's when the existing 1,000+ analogue transmitters across the country will be shut off.

And at 29, the list of cities is pretty short. It includes those with populations greater than 300,000 and the provincial/territorial capitals. Here's a very small sample of the places *not* on the list: Kingston, Sudbury, Kamloops and Kelowna.

Check out the CMG website for the CRTC list.

To recap the issue, Canadians living in major cities and close to the US border already enjoy a smorgasbord of free, great quality digital TV. That's because US broadcasters and many - CBC, CTV, Global, Citytv, Radio-Canada - in the biggest Canadian cities (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver) have already put up digital transmitters. The channels are available for free to viewers with a new-ish TV equipped with digital receiver or a $60 converter box for (older) analogue sets.

Those Canadian broadcasters are not much interested in putting up any more digital transmitters than absolutely necessary. If you don't happen to live within range of a digital transmitter site, any TV not hooked up to cable, satellite or IPTV stands to go dark in August 2011.

The CRTC is accepting comments until August 10 ahead of a fall public hearing that will deal some more with over-the-air TV and the transition to digital. But note that issues related to the transition could easily be drowned out by the continued battle between TV networks and the cable/satellite companies, which is also on the agenda.

So: if you're being left out of free, digital TV, this is the time to speak up and send a comment to the CRTC. You should also let your MP know how you feel.

4 comments:

  1. Oh Goodie. So we in Moncton lose our television signal *and* we have no local television originating anywhere in the province. For this, we will be asked to pay more.

    Sooner or later, the other show has got to drop on these guys.

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  2. Actually, Moncton is on the CRTC list of cities where broadcasters have to put up a new digital transmitter. But the sentiment certainly applies to a lot of other places in Canada.

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  3. Glad no lock out unitl 2014July 11, 2009 at 2:36 PM

    Anyone who cannot recieve an OTA, over the air, signal should be subsidized by the broadcasters who choose not to supply OTA service.

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  4. Ottawa's relatively safe, for now at least. I do worry for a lot of other places, though!

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Thanks for commenting! Just to let you know, I will remove comments that are unrelated to the post or include personal attacks on anyone.