Thursday, September 9, 2010

Canadians in for a rude shock after transition to digital TV

The major deadline in Canada's transition to digital TV is now less than one year away, but you'd never know it from the deafening silence on the issue.

Beginning next September 1, Canadian over-the-air TV viewers in 32 cities will need digital equipment to continue watching television. They will need either a newer TV with a digital receiver or a converter box for their older analog set.

But it's Canadians in the other cities, towns and rural areas that are in for the really rude shock. Starting in less than a year, their local stations will start unplugging the analog over-the-air transmitters and replace them with ... nothing. If you want to watch TV in those areas, you'll need a cable or satellite hookup, unless you are close enough to US stations to pick those up over the air.

It is quite a shock to compare the before-transition and after-transition maps of Canada. Check it out.

Here's a live version of the after-transition map, where you can see what stations will be available in what cities:

View Free digital TV in Canada/La télé numérique gratuite au Canada in a larger map

Don't forget to compare it to the map of where free, over-the-air TV is available today.

Meanwhile, viewers in the US, where the transition is already more than a year old, and Canada who have tried digital over-the-air TV seem to love it. First, there's no monthly bill. Second, the picture quality is great. There is evidence of a growing grassroots movement in favour of over-the-air TV.

Too bad so many smaller-town and rural Canadians are slated to be thrown under the digital bus.