CTV, Global want to be like TQS

Hey, remember back when the CRTC let TQS get away with having virtually no local programming because it was strapped for cash?

Well now that a recession is on the horizon, the big guns – CTV and Global – are suddenly losing money by the barrel too. They want their local programming restrictions eased.

Considering local news and information programming from all the networks, including CBC, is a joke, they’ve got some nerve demanding more favours so they can cut even more.

Broadcast TV stations are given access to the airwaves (and preferential spots on the dial, assuming such a thing exists) in exchange for making a commitment to local programming. If we forgo that commitment, what’s the point in giving these people broadcast licenses?

Then again, with 90 per cent of Canadians using cable or satellite services, perhaps a broadcast transmitter isn’t as important as it used to be. They might be perfectly content moving to cable.

Here’s another suggestion: In exchange for lowering your requirements on local programming, we end the CRTC’s simultaneous substitution rule, which forces cable and satellite providers to replace U.S. channels (and commercials) with Canadian ones when they run the same programming.

Of course, simsub is a cash cow for the networks, and they’ll scream at the top of their lungs if there’s even a suggestion of removing it. But if the networks aren’t doing anything for us, why should we do anything for them?

The CRTC’s goal is the protection of Canadian culture and the regulation of its broadcasting industry, not ensuring the profitability of the big media empires. Let’s hope they remember that.

29 thoughts on “CTV, Global want to be like TQS

  1. princess iveylocks

    I HATE simsub! The Canadian commercials are jarringly loud and repetitive, with low production values, and more often than not run into the show’s length. They did unholy things to AMC’s Mad Men for which I shall never forgive them.

  2. Pie

    Does this post have anything to do with why I couldn’t watch the Grey Cup on tv on Sunday? I don’t have cable. All of a sudden you need to cable to watch the biggest game of the year?

  3. Corinthian Rick

    Good points. With the decline of newspapers, local TV news should be amped up, not slashed. Maybe the local TV news and newspapers could merge and create something with a bit more synergy.

  4. Fagstein Post author

    CTV outbid CBC for Grey Cup rights this season. The decision to broadcast the game exclusively on TSN/RDS and not the main CTV network is CTV’s alone. Direct your criticism to them.

    CTV tends to avoid putting sports programming on its main network, preferring instead to use TSN and RDS. Except for the NFL game they had on earlier in the afternoon. Instead, they had local news, Degrassi:TNG and The Amazing Race.

  5. Josh

    “CTV tends to avoid putting sports programming on its main network, preferring instead to use TSN and RDS. Except for the NFL game they had on earlier in the afternoon.”

    Yeah, exactly.

    I think it’s disgraceful that one company holds the rights to over-the-air NFL broadcasts in Canada, as well as the *entire* English-language CFL contract, and chose to put American football on the traditional network on Sunday while relegating the Grey Cup to cable-only status.

    Shame on CTV and Bellglobemedia.

  6. Larry Renforth

    The simultaneous substitution rule was put in place so that more quality Canadian content could be generated that would attract Canadian viewers. However, as evidenced by the lack of Canadian shows in the top 10 ranking list released weekly, this is clearly not working. However, Canadian networks such as CTV continue to take advantage of this rule and instead of investing the time, effort and money in creating quality Canadian programs that attract viewers, take the revenues generated by simsubbing and do things like buy the rights to the Hockey Night in Canada theme song from the CBC, buy media companies like Alliance Atlantis (Global), or Canadian networks simply keep the money and the “programming executives” (and I use that term loosely because after all, how difficult is it to hijack signals from American networks each hour anyways) buy fancy houses and big boats. The Canadian content rules are very paltry as well, requiring Canadian networks to air only 50 percent Canadian content during the hours of 6 pm until midnight, with news programs and magazine type shows to be counted towards this requirement, leaving the hours of 8 pm until 11 pm open to the hijacking of hit primetime US dramas and sitcoms.

    Now as per CRTC regulations, each cable / satellite provider is supposed to carry out the simultaneous substitution of American networks whenever a show is of “equal or better quality” on an interrupting channel. First of all, the CRTC has very lax requirements for what is considered “equal or better quality”. Whenever a show is broadcast in 1080i on a major US network (CBS and NBC broadcast in this format), and a Canadian network is interrupting but is broadcasting only at 720p, the resulting hijacked feed will be only 1,049,088 pixels, while a 1080i signal is 1,382,400 pixels, a difference of 333,312 pixels! Also, the CRTC considers 5.1 surround sound and stereo (or even mono) sound to be the same, when it is clearly not. Why do consumers in Canada spend thousands of dollars on HD TV sets, expensive receivers and speaker systems, only to have the true experience of the latest technology robbed from us by this CRTC regulation and cable and satellite providers not pulling the plug on an inferior simsub? The CRTC should not view 720p and 1080i signals as being equal, and should not view 5.1 surround sound and stereo sound as equal, and cable and satellite providers should stop the simsub if both video and audio are not equal or better quality.

    Along with the technical requirements of video and sound not being equal, simsubs cause Canadian viewers to miss the start and ends of shows, promos for next week’s shows are cut off, and during live events, many crucial segments are missed. Also, whenever a live event (primarily a live sporting event) goes over the allotted scheduled time due to the live event taking longer than expected, another Canadian network cuts in at the top of the next hour and believes that the regularly scheduled program is still going to air at the normal start time. The cable / satellite provider fails to see that the live event is running over the allotted time on the US network and lets the Canadian channel cut in and doesn’t override the automatic simsub. Cable / satellite providers in the past have stated that they will monitor this more closely, but this continues to occur.

    Now some US sitcoms and drams are being produced to run over the regularly schedule 60 minute mark, and instead are 62 or 65 minutes in length. This is causing even more problems since another Canadian network will cut in at the top of the next hour causing viewers to miss out on the ending of the extended sitcom or drama.

    Both CTV and CITY-TV interrupt the NFL on CBS and the NFL on FOX now. CTV has come back many times late from commercial break because they try to insert an additional promo for their useless network overtop the originally scheduled commercial time, and they catch the FOX or CBS announcer in mid-sentence and the action in mid-play. As well, every year during the Super Bowl, us fans in Canada are disheartened as well since the coverage is always interrupted by a Canadian station, and we miss out on key plays and the unique American commercials, and instead have to endure repeated Canadian Tire and Tim Horton’s commercials over and over and over again.

    CTV used to butcher the greatest sports telecast ever when it interrupted the NBA on NBC in the 1990’s and early part of this decade. Whenever CTV hijacked the NBC feed, the introduction to the telecast was cut off, NBA on NBC promos were removed and we were forced to watch the same old useless Canadian commercials over and over again, Rob Faulds and Suneel Joshi would come in and interrupt the telecast and spew out incorrect stats about the game that was occurring, and on top of it all, you had that useless joke of a comedian Mike Bullard trying to explain the rules of the game, including basic things like travelling. Who the hell doesn’t know what travelling is???

    For those in the know about simsubbing, they know how annoying simsubbing is in Canada, and hopefully everyone will realize that consumers in Canada do not want to put up with this any longer and it’s time for the CRTC to change the policy, and for networks such as CTV to stop hiding behind this rule and come up with a lot more original Canadian programming or get off the airwaves!!!

  7. Derek Rease

    Since FOX is doing the first game today of the divisional playoffs with the Eagles – Giants, and then CBS the second game with the Chargers – Steelers, will CrapTV hijack the first feed until the end and then cut away from any FOX post-game interviews / show, and go to CBS immediately and catch that game in mid-play?

    How does CTV co-ordinate these hijackings so effectively? Does it employ Osama Bin Laden, Sayyed Imam Al-Sharif, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Sheikh Salman al-Ouda to carry them out?

    1. Fagstein Post author

      The games are almost four hours apart, so there shouldn’t be any overlap. As far as postgame interviews, that’s up to CTV. If CTV carries it, then it’ll be on the cable feeds for both channels. If not, the simultaneous substitution should stop and the FOX feed should be FOX again, interviews and all.

      The hijackings are done by the cable company from programming information provided by the networks. It’s not that difficult, though occasionally it’s not done properly.

  8. Martin Johnson

    I must say that CTV’s sickening simsubbing has really killed my NFL playoff experience this year. Early in the season I noticed that the Eastern HD stations were left alone, so I would watch them. Now everything is hijacked. Even the Eastern SD’s. AND EVEN ALL THE PRE-GAME SHOWS ARE TAKEN OVER. Its the same 3 commercials and the same 3 promos over and over and over again. And I notice that they, ‘cheat’, coming back from commercial, and almost always cut in half way through a sentence, or half-way through the next play. Having stuff shoved down my throat makes me sick, and the CRTC is masters at it. I feel pushed to go to the grey market like a lot of people I know. I pay tons of money each month for my cable and can only watch it in ways deemed appropriate by the CRTC and Canadian government. The Americans would never stand for their govt to be in their face like ours is. Anyway, CTV, just to let you know, you are making me sick, and I will avoid you and your products and your advertisers products as much as I can.

  9. Keith Palowski

    CTV just better hope that football finishes before 8:00 pm, because they have got to hijack NBC’s coverage of the Golden Globes then. What would happen if it went over the allotted time?

    What a tough day for programming execs at CTV – 12:00 pm hijack FOX, 4:30 pm hijack CBS, 8:00 pm hijack NBC, for 11 hours straight! So much for 50 percent Canadian content requirements – or maybe they misread the policy and thought it said 0.50 percent Canadian content is required.

  10. Simon

    My email to CTV today:

    Wow, today must have been a very tough day at the office for employees of CTV. First you hijacked FOX at 12:00 pm for the Eagles – Giants game, then CBS at 4:30 pm for the Chargers – Steelers game, and then finally NBC at 8:00 pm for the Golden Globe Awards.

    Now do all 400 or so employees at CTV put their hands on the cable when plugging into the feed of FOX, then switching to CBS, then switching to NBC? Is so, that must be a long and thick cable to allow everyone to at least touch a part of it and experience the thrill of plugging into yet another American network. Do you all clap at once and yell and scream in your amazing accomplishment of hijacking yet another American network? By the way, is this a record for CTV – hijacking 11 straight hours of American network coverage? It must be. I know you’ve accomplished a lot with previous hijackings, but this day might take the cake.

    Whatever happened to the 50 percent Canadian content as mandated by the CRTC? Perhaps you thought that meant 0.50 percent Canadian content?

    Well, it was a job well done today – 11 hours straight is no easy feat. I think each one of you deserves a vacation for you amazing accomplishments today. You all must be tired from switching over the cable 3 times in 11 hours! Take next week off and enjoy the revenues generated by taking over American networks and spend it in Bermuda – you all deserve it.

    Keep up the good work.

  11. Paul Den Otter

    I share these sentiments as well Martin. I love NFL playoff football, but I hate CTV’s destructive re-broadcast. I did not watch the Saturday games, and only the last half of the Giants/Eagles game. (I want to see John Melendez shave his head tomorrow on The Tonight Show as a result of his lost bet.)

    I talked to someone at CTV, and they said that they were doing this because they were losing money on NFL.

    Well, you’re not gaining more viewers, but less.

    And if you’re losing money, than don’t bid on it.

    I banked on Shaw being able to give us the authentic broadcast – and should have picked Star Choice instead, I guess.

    I agree that a boycott of CTV advertisers is well warranted.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      No “broadcast distribution unit”, as the CRTC calls cable and satellite companies, is legally allowed to forgo simultaneous substitution when asked. It’s not their call.

      Unfortunately, the only way legally to get the authentic American signal is to receive it over the air from a local affiliate across the border.

      If that annoys you, complain to the CRTC, not CTV.

  12. Paul Den Otter

    But it’s CTV that’s adding in additional promos overtop and coming back late from commercial. They are doing this intentionally. I remember the PGA Tour this past summer, whenever it was interrupted by a Canadian channel, that Canadian channel would delibertly cut away from the leaderboard before commercial break and insert an additional 5 second promo for another American show on its network!!! Unreal. So we in Canada couldn’t see who was where in the standings!!!
    Global butchered the HD signal of the playoffs a few years back because they couldn’t pass the HD feed properly back out from their broadcast centre. Many times the audio is not 5.1 or out of sync because of the Canadian channels inability to pass through proper audio.
    So I understand that the BDU perfoms the simsub, and whenever it goes late and is “left on” overtop of another show when it shouldn’t, then it’s the BDU’s fault. But otherwise, it’s CTV clearly taking advantage of this rule and screwing up the timing of the telecast on purpose just to insert additional promos and such.

  13. Paul Den Otter

    And obviously they plan these additional promos beforehand and know when to insert them, so when they are, the original American feed comes back late and we catch the announcer in mid-sentence or the action in mid-play!

  14. Patrick

    Kudos to Simon! Hilarious letter! Please let us know if you get a reply, I’d love to see how some infuriated CTV exec would respond to that one! Probably with crap like, “CTV owns the exclusive broadcast rights of these programs in Canada”…. yeah we know that! The point of the letter has nothing to do with the LEGITIMACY of program rightholders, it’s to do with how greedy, lazy and 100% utterly useless CTVglobemedia is.

  15. Shawn Mitchell

    What is the point of the existence of private Canadian broadcasters if all they provide is American programming, which is aired in simulcast with US networks, providing virtually no additional TV choice to Canadians, and making no mark on Canadian culture? Seriously? What’s the point? News? Occasional low-budget ripoffs of US shows like Deal or No Deal or Entertainment Tonight? Or even worse…


    If you’re going to tell me that Canadian private broadcasters exist solely to ensure that we watch Canadian ads instead of the US ones we’d be watching otherwise, that’s one sad, sad statement.

    For news, I’m fine with the CBC and the internet. For crappy US-ripoff shows that pale in comparison to the originals, I’m fine with those never surfacing ever again.

    And another big point about private Canadian networks is that they will only carry US programs that air on Fox, NBC, CBS or ABC… they rarely ever broadcast shows from other US networks that we can’t receive in Canada, because then they wouldn’t be able to simsub and virtually have ownership of two channels (theirs and the US network) for 30 min/60 mins. When’s the last time you saw a WB or USA Network show on Global or CTV? Barely ever.

    And why don’t we get Australian or British programming? Are we just going to admit defeat and finally admit that we’re just the 51st state? (I mean my God, Global and CTV are airing exclusive coverage of BARACK OBAMA’S INAUGURATION on January 20! They wouldn’t even do that for a CANADIAN PRESIDENT… oh I mean Prime Minister, I forgot).

    P.S. – I can’t believe CTV had the galls to complain about Star Choice when it came to the 2008 Super Bowl. Star Choice uses VCO technology to ensure that the LOCAL CTV or Global station is the one simsubbed in any given area…. which is no different than the cable companies… so CTV should be thankful for this!!! But oh no, the crybabies go ape-shyte when Star Choice won’t simsub the Super Bowl (in HD) for everyone in the country!

    They’re not required to do so!! There are no freaking CTVHD transmitters outside of Toronto or Vancouver!! Can you believe CTV actually suggested that Star Choice divvy up the country into two sections, each of which would have simsubs enforced by either the west (Vancouver) or east (Toronto) CTVHD feed??!! What a freaking joke! Ivan Feces should just take a sail on his yacht after all the money he’s stolen (oops I mean made) by airing American programs non-stop.

  16. Theo

    I found this on wikipedia:

    Susanne Boyce is currently President Creative, Content and Channels, CTV Inc. But this title is a misnomer, as all she does is air American programming. There is nothing creative about being able to tap into NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX every hour on the hour. She joined CTV in 1995 as director of production and development and was senior vice president of programming from 1997 to 2001. Just prior to her current title she was President of CTV Programming and Chair of CTV Media Group between 2001 and 2007.

  17. Sarajoule

    I wish there was someway we could watch the Cardinals – Steelers in the Superbowl without interruptions. Damn I hate those stupid Canadian Tire and Tim Horton’s commercials over and over again.

  18. Simon

    Patrick, I never did hear back from CTV regarding my letter. I only wish I did hear something back. It would have been great to read what kind of sorry response they would have conjured up.

  19. Barry Tompkins


    I don’t think there is one yet, but we should create one. You can be President and I’ll be Vice-President.

  20. Kyle

    Yesterday was a great day. My OTA worked! I watched NBC (WGRZ) with my 4228 Clone and my amp I got the game in full HD with 5.1 sound. It was awesome. The commercials were awesome, very funny, and the game was great too!

    Funny thing was I switched to CTFO for a minute to see what commercials they were airing and it was the most ghetto Wal Mart ad I ever saw for a rollback on nature bars. LOL! It was a real pleasure to watch the game in “pure” form without the stupid interjections from local greedsters at CTV, without having to watch Crappy Tire commercials every break. It did throw me for a bit of a loop when a Tim Horton’s commerical came on. I keep forgetting that they have them in Buffalo!

    All in all a great game and I’m also loving Austin City Limits on PBS which airs on Saturday Nights.

  21. Shawn

    Kyle, I take it you’re in Southern Ontario, if you’re receiving a Buffalo station? Is anyone pulling in a digital US OTA signal in the Montreal area? If so, how is it?

  22. Walt

    CTV Press Release Regarding the Superbowl:

    “Audiences like this only come around a few times a year,” said Susanne Boyce, Creative Cuntlick, CTV Inc. “The SUPER BOWL, like the ACADEMY AWARDS, are television events like no other, both telecasts that we hijack from various US networks.”

    “This year’s SUPER BOWL audience confirms the power of mass media,” said Rick Brace, Asswipe of Sports, CTV Inc. “Thanks to NBC Sports for another great production, we’re proud to have hijacked yet another feed.”


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