José Breton must be happy.*
He’s the guy in Quebec City who protested that CBC was going to shut down its TV transmitter there and not replace it with a digital one. Being a hockey fan, his main issue was that he wouldn’t be able to get Hockey Night in Canada without cable.
In a decision published Tuesday morning, the CRTC decided to give the CBC another year to make the conversion in 22 markets that are large enough that the CRTC designated them for mandatory conversion but small enough that they do not have original programming and the CBC was prepared to pull the plug on them rather than spend millions on new transmitters.
These include transmitters in Quebec City, Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières and Chicoutimi that rebroadcast CBC Montreal. They also include a large number of Radio-Canada’s transmitters outside Quebec. The Globe and Mail has a map here.
Breton wasn’t the only one trying to stop his city from falling through the cracks. The city of London, Ont., actually passed a resolution demanding the CBC save its transmitter there.
Since Radio-Canada transmitters in Quebec are shutting down, the CBC is going to use the old Radio-Canada analog transmitters in Trois Rivières and Quebec City for CBC programming, taking advantage of the better coverage of those transmitters. On the flip side, its transmitter in Chicoutimi (Saguenay) will see its power drop significantly because it’s on a channel that is supposed to be vacated.
Here’s what’s going on for each transmitter:
- CBMT Montreal must still terminate analog transmission on Channel 6 by Aug. 31. Its transitional digital transmitter on Channel 20 will move to Channel 21.
- CBJET Saguenay will drop in power significantly, going from 12,000 watts to just 496. Because it’s running on Channel 58, which is one the government is forcing all television stations to move off of (big cities or small), it drops to low-power unprotected status. This also means that Industry Canada (which regulates frequency allocations) can force it to move frequencies if it wants to give it to someone else.
- CBMT-1 Trois-Rivières switches from Channel 28 to Radio-Canada’s old spot on Channel 13, and gets a power boost from 33,000 to 47,000 watts, in order to increase its coverage area.
- CBVE-TV Quebec City switches from Channel 5 to Radio-Canada’s old spot on Channel 11, and gets a power boost from 13,850 to 33,000 watts, increasing its coverage.
- CBMT-3 Sherbrooke remains operational, unchanged at 14,000 watts on Channel 50.
- Other retransmitters in Quebec (there are about 40 of them from Kuujuaq to Îles de la Madeleine) are not in mandatory markets and will remain running as they were before.
The CRTC’s decision is understandable. It was backed into a corner by the CBC. Not allowing the extension would have meant forcing the CBC to shut down these transmitters – many of which are in minority-language markets – and would have meant, some have argued, failing in its mandate.
It’s also the latest compromise on the digital transition. Originally the CRTC wanted every TV transmitter in Canada to be converted to digital. Then in 2009 it said only “mandatory markets” – capital cities, those with multiple stations and those with populations above 300,000. Then in March it removed the territorial capitals from the list of mandatory markets. And now CBC and Radio-Canada retransmitters won’t have to make the transition.
In 2009, I argued that the digital TV transition is a counterproductive waste of money. Two years later, with the deadline only two weeks away, this seems even more clear. Broadcasters are waiting in some cases until literally the last minute (midnight from Aug. 31 to Sept. 1) to switch their analog transmitters with digital ones, because they know that the analog transmitters reach a larger audience. The fact that the CBC is pushing for a delay and that so few transmitters are being changed outside of mandatory markets is a clear indication that market forces aren’t pushing hard in the direction of digital TV.
And why should they? Having high definition is nice, but the vast majority of people rich enough to have purchased high-definition TVs also have cable or satellite service. Most of those on analog TV are either too poor to afford a subscription service or are too disinterested in TV to spend the money.
Digital television is being forced on us for reasons that still elude me. The government wants to auction off TV channels 52-69 for wireless services, but analog transmitters in those frequencies can be reassigned lower channels without converting them to digital (there certainly aren’t more than 50 television transmitters operating within range of Quebec City or Moncton).
Analog over-the-air television has existed using roughly the same technology for more than half a century. Forcing broadcasters to spend millions on hundreds of new transmitters and consumers to spend hundreds on millions of new televisions (or digital converters for their existing sets) without a clear need seems ridiculous.
UPDATE (Aug. 17): Actually, Breton isn’t happy. He’s calling the decision a “false compromise”, says the CRTC should have forced the CBC to install a digital transmitter in all mandatory markets, and points out that because most digital converter boxes don’t pick up analog signals, people won’t be able to easily switch between CBC and other channels in these markets.
My TV has an analog and a digital tuner. I’m a cable subscriber so it doesn’t really affect me. Plus I don’t watch that much TV in the first place. Am I terrible people?
Analog tv dates from the 1930s, seventy years ago. Because nobody wanted to make a radical change, they added color tv onto the existing format in the fifties, then later added stereo audio,
but they were still stuck with the same basic format.
This is a radical break finally, because they are willing to toss out the old things can change, and because they are tossing out the old, they can do things dramatically different.
The changeover was badly handled. DTV means no ghosting on CBC, something that’s probably always been there. It means that Global here in Montreal won’t be grainy. It means that maybe channel 62, the channel that used to be “the ethnic channel” may be watchable. It theoretically means we can see more channels, though that doesn’t seem to be happening in Canada. It means that the US stations are either not there or perfect. Other than FOX, I never got the US stations with perfect reception (not even FOX for that matter), yet some were instantly receivable here. And those US stations are offering subchannels, so now we can see more tv.
DTV means that I can actually watch CBS and NBC (well for the moment), something I could only do in the sixties if I got up before channels 2 and 6 started up. It means that I have a chance of watching the tv shows I’m used to now that CTV (via CFCF) is dumping them to “CTV Two” without considering that there’s no “CTV Two” transmitter here in Montreal. (Though, with Global going to channel 15, and NBC on Channel 14, one wonders if the adjacent channel interference will kill NBC just as surely as CBC on Channel 6 killed NBC reception here.)
The changeover should have happened before this, it really is a good thing for the viewers that rely on local stations for their tv fix.
We live in a biggoted world where everyone assumes everyone else has cable or satellite. I only had cable for a relatively brief period of my life, 1982 to 1997, giving it up to pay for internet access. If people who relied on local tv were doing the TV coverage in the papers, it would be a different world.
On the DTV front, Global went off the air during the 6pm newscast on Sunday without warning, and stayed off, only today (Tuesday) did they bother to put up a notice. No sign of a Global DTV signal yet. And it appears that channel 62 went off the air today too, towards evening since it was there earlier.
I don’t want to see my letter to the Gazette about the changeover turned into an article, unlike the time last year when a comment here about the Westmount papers basically became an article in the Gazette.
Back in the old country, in Berlin, Germany, they switch to digital terrestrial TV forcibly in the early 2000’s. I thought it was a great idea – all of the sudden table top antennas (which is what poor people have) got awesome image rather than static, and instead of 5 channels you now get around 30 over the air.
So I dunno whether the transition is going to increase the number of available channels here; but it seems if it is a waste of money, then it is mostly so for the stations themselves which are apparently too cheap to transfer.
I for one am actually considering switching from videotron analog cable back to terrestrial tv; and maybe using netflix for additional content. Overall it seems that would be much cheaper than crappy cable, and all digital to boot.
One of the advantages of digital signals is that multiple channels can be carried on the same channel frequency. This happens in many US markets, where a main affiliate such as NBC may be carried as channel 5.1 on the same frequency as other affiliates, such as The CW or ThisTV, which would appear on digital substations numbered 5.2 and 5.3, for example.
I’ve wondered why the CBC and Radio-Canada are duplicating their operations when, especially in smaller markets, the minority language channel could be carried as a digital substation of the majority language channel (such as the CBC as a substation in Quebec City, and the SRC as a substation in St. John’s).
Here’s the Wikipedia article on Digital Substations. It vaguely states that while this is a technological possibility in Canada, it does not happen. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_subchannel
I asked the CBC about digital subchannels. Martin Marcotte, its director of transmission, said it would be inconsistent with its plan of having DTV only where it produces original programming, and that adding subchannels would mean reducing the quality of the main HD channel.
I don’t know how much I agree with any of that (surely a slightly compressed HD channel for Radio-Canada with an SD CBC subchannel is better than a perfect-quality HD Radio-Canada channel and no CBC broadcasting at all), but that’s their stance.
Maybe a videophile with a 65″ plasma might be able to spot something, but my NBC and PBS affiliates run 2 subchannels and I can’t any evidence of picture quality degradation on the main channel.
That seems to be a pathetic response. If compression technologies are sufficiently advanced for American flagship affiliates in New York City to air one HD channel and two SD subchannels, it seems a tremendous waste of an opportunity for the networks to not share their resources in certain markets, even if it means Jake Doyle and Rick Mercer may find their faces slightly less than HD quality in the process.
I’m unsure of the CBC-Radio Canada’s organizational structure, but this seems to be an artifact of the networks not cooperating for some petty internal political reason, rather than a valid technological problem. Or perhaps the corporation has begun to view OTA as a drain on their resources, and are using this policy of only providing DTV in markets with original content as a way to incrementally reduce their mandate to provide OTA services.
I don’t think it’s impossible that there are internal politics at work, but the people who setup the transmitters for CBC are the same ones who do so for Radio-Canada. They’re electronic boxes attached to antennas, and what language the programming in doesn’t really matter.
Sort of. More that converting all these transmitters would be far too expensive for them, and provide little benefit. They’re quite open about this: They’re never going to convert all 600+ TV transmitters across Canada to digital. They probably will in the large markets, but they prefer to use their money more wisely for smaller regions. There’s just little point, they argue, in spending a million dollars installing and maintaining a digital transmitter for a community of 1,000 people when only maybe two or three will actually watch a signal off that transmitter.
I have to say the digital transition in Canada is being handled very poorly, bordering on disastrous.
In the United States the shut-off of analog transmission was made very public, up to a full year or more before it happened there were daily public service announcements on TV, PBS aired a special (repeated several times) explaining everything about switch-over and what you needed to do to prepare. And as we approached the last days before the February 2009 deadline, there were even scrolling warnings on the bottom of the TV screen WARNING viewers about getting cut off.
More than that, stores were stocking a wide variety of digital converter boxes, for as low as $25 long before the cut off. Then of course was the government program to offer each and every household two $40 dollar coupons to pay for converter boxes.
We’re two weeks away from the switch over here in Canada. I have seen NO public service announcements on TV, I have seen NO dedicated specials explaining the situation. Oh, wait…this week’s newspaper had a vague one page ad from the Canadian government saying “No more snow in Canada” stating either nothing is going to happen to your TV, or something MAY happen. That’s it. Nothing about what this is all about (you have to go to their website to read more).
There is NO coupon program to pay for a digital converter box in Canada. And speaking of converter boxes, they only JUST starting appearing in stores and costing upwards of $100 after tax! It’s practically a slap in the face to people who depend on OTA TV because they cannot afford cable or satellite.
I’ve spoken with so many people who use antennas in Montreal and have no clue whatsoever in terms of what is about to happen. Likely they’re going to simply think their TV sets have conked out.
I won’t even talk about how I’ve had no luck picking up local digital channels so far (save for CBC Montreal) whereas I get all the cross-border stations perfectly (CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, and PBS from Vermont and Plattsburg). We’ll see what happens in 2 weeks.
The CRTC has mandated that all over-the-air broadcasters air commercials regularly explaining the analog shutdown. I’ve seen quite a few myself, but they’re not exactly overwhelming the airwaves.
Most already have digital transmitters up. I’ve been able to pick up CFCF, Télé-Québec, CBC and Radio-Canada, which are all transmitting from temporary locations on temporary channels and should improve after the switch. The other five stations (TVA, V, Global, CJNT, Canal Savoir) are all planning a direct switch on or before Aug. 31.
CFJP-DT (Vtele) has been on the air for sometime. But, because they have not placed their transmitter on the mountain, most people can’t receive the signal. Especially west of Mont-Royal. The same applies for CIVM-DT. They’re transmitter is located on the Big O. That is why some people report that they receive some of the stations.
As for the PSA’s that are being aired. They are just plan useless. They should tell you what you have to do to maintain over the air TV reception. Show a set up. Indicate that channels are moving around, and that UHF antennas may be better than basic VHF rabbit ear antennas in some cases. Plus, make sure people buy a converter box that has a analog pass thru function on it. This will assist viewers that will still have a few stations in analog mode in their market.
The only one I’ve seen so far, is on the Bell owned CTV network (nee CFCF-12). It plays more like a commercial promoting Bell TV satellite and The Source (which they also own) than a public service announcement.
This so called PSA only started in appearing in last few weeks. Rather last minute to be warning people now, don’t you think? If there are PSA’s on other channels, I haven’t seen them. Either I’m not watching enough TV, or they’re being aired too few and far between.
You do realize in the States, most stations were simulcasting in both digital and analog up to 2 years before the cut off date, and at a high signal strength. This allowed people to time to transition over, to fine tune their anntennas and program in their TV’s or receivers. By the time analog was being switched off, everyone was ready.
Here in Canada they’re doing it all in one shot, literally overnight. I cannot even pick up CFCF without a second antenna pointed in a different direction from my main one, and even then it’s unreliable.
You realize of course that in a few days (end of the month) you can pretty much point your antenna at the same place and get pretty much all of it? They will all be on Mont Royal, transmitting with signals that will likely be similar to what you see right now on Rad-can channel 19 / 2. If you are anywhere on the island on Montreal, that signal pretty much booms in already, and the picture quality is many, many times better than analog.
First off, I have to say that this is typical Canadian government process. We have a law that is suppose to come in effect one date, we extend the implementation of the law for years, and then start making exceptions even before it goes into effect. The capper in this case is that it is a crown corporation that is dragging the law backwards, because they are unable to match a mandate that they have been facing for years.
Second, I have to say that CBC is the only broadcaster of note right now in Canada who isn’t also a cable or sat TV provider. How odd!
As for the conversion, let’s consider the facts. Outside of discount places, you have not been able to buy an analog TV for a years now. Since the US started it’s conversion, they have been scarce, and the market dried up already years ago. If you have bought a TV in the last 3 or 4 years, you almost certainly bought a DTV enabled TV. Next, if you have been receiving only over the air, you have been working to get the US stations since 2009. It’s not like it’s news that everyone has moved to DTV in the US.
So now we are talking about a market of laggards, people who cannot afford a new TV (or even the used ones that are getting sold all the time on craigslist and other places), and who are not getting reception via cable, sat, or other non OTA means.
How big is that market, really?
I think that in the end, there will be some victims and some losers in the transition, but that with a little care and a little attention, these cases can be addresses in a meaningful way and resolved. Perhaps Hydro Quebec can step up and provide a few thousand TVs for the needy, considering the power savings compared to the old tube sets.
Steve: “rich enough” to buy a DTV? You are kidding right? 24 inch Dynex at Bestbuy this week is $199. I don’t think this is exactly defining affluence!
Apple IIGS: most of the stations have only temp transmitters up, and they are broadcasting often at lower power from less than optimum locations. If you are on the downtown side of town, Lachine or closer on the west, and about autoroute 25 to the east, you have a hope of getting the signals. If you are on the other side of the mountain, fuggeddaboudit. You really have to wait until Sept 1st to see where things land and if you can OTA things. Obviously, if you can receive the US ones, you should have no issue getting the Montreal ones.
You assume a far higher turnover rate for television sets than is the case. Analog TV has been around for more than half a century. People with a 20-year-old analog TV who aren’t interested in HD haven’t had much of a reason to change.
People with low-quality rabbit ears have always had trouble picking up U.S. stations. Some even have trouble picking up low-power local stations like CJNT and Global. Many of those people have stuck with the high-power local broadcasters, CBC, CTV, Radio-Canada, TVA, Télé-Québec and maybe V.
How many of those have digital tuners? And how many cheap digital TVs stay on the market for long?
That sounds a lot like an expensive government handout program. And wouldn’t handing out digital converters be cheaper than handing out new TVs? Hydro-Quebec wants people to cut down power consumption, but it also profits from high consumption.
When you can’t afford $30 a month for cable, I think $199 is a high price. Remember that these are people who aren’t obsessed with TV. They maybe watch it for an hour a day or a few hours a week, if that.
Canada cannot delay technological progress and become a third world country only for some “poor people”.
Does having analog TV really make Canada a third world country?
So Steve, are you suggesting that we should stop progress to allow people with 20 year old TVs or those who only watch a couple of hours a week at most to maybe one day move up? What percentage do you think are (a) not able to afford, (b) not willing to upgrade, or (c) don’t want to upgrade? I think the number is pretty small.
There is plenty of resale already in the HD marketplace, and as mentioned, the set top converter boxes are available for those who are so inclined.
A quick glance through the listings on GL shows plenty of listings for HD TVs being sold, some as low as $100-$125. There is already a reasonably vibrant market. Heck, even J Sonic (refurb company) has plenty of smaller HD compatibles under $150.
It just seems all a little weird.
As for the CBC, I would say in Quebec City that they might have wanted to look at using a “sub-channel” of their french HD transmitter to allow for an english feed. It seems odd that they just said “no” and left it at that.
We’re not talking about stopping progress. Broadcasters have been free to setup digital transmitters for years, but they haven’t for the most part because the market hasn’t given them incentive to. What the CRTC is doing is trying to enforce “progress”, and the broadcasters are resisting.
And just what kind of “progress” is this anyway? What serious benefit to society does the conversion to digital bring?
Yes. About as small as the number of people who watch digital TV over the air. Which is kind of the point – we’re spending millions of dollars on something that affects only a small amount of the population.
“What serious benefit to society does the conversion to digital bring?”
I’d actually say that poor people get better access to TV.
“What the CRTC is doing is trying to enforce “progress””
Well, this progress only makes sense if everybody does it, at the same time. So it’s not that there is a market, it just needs to be pushed by some regulator so that it does happen at the same time. Since when do you have such simplistic views on markets, anyway?
Better access how? The picture maybe becomes clearer (though for many on the fringes the picture will disappear entirely instead of being snowy). The actual programming on the stations won’t change.
That’s not necessary. Analog and digital transmitters have been running concurrently for months now. People have been given plenty of time to make the switch, but many are perfectly happy with a standard-definition analog signal.
My views are hardly simplistic. My point is that this is a change that is too expensive for the broadcasters, too expensive and confusing for the viewers, and is completely unnecessary. Nobody wants it except the government, and it’s not entirely clear why.
Have you ever been using a table top antenna? And then you have to adjust it all the time; and you can’t watch global and cbc on the same antenna position, and you have to move it when switching between the channels. And between ctv, global and cbc, there’s a good chance that one of the channels won’t be available at all.
So yeah, the programming will change. And maybe the number of channels will actually increase.
“That’s not necessary. Analog and digital transmitters have been running concurrently for months now.”
Switching makes the most economic sense if everybody switches.
That won’t change with the transition to digital (unless you get a new antenna). Though the band will be smaller (no channels over 51), I still have antenna configurations that favour one signal over another.
It makes more economic sense if nobody switches at all.
Steve, for the most part, it is pretty darn expensive to set up a transmitter on Mount Royal, and most of the broadcasters already have their analog setups there. There is little incentive in the market to set up more than a token HD transmitter, in order to get the rights to simultaneous substitution. It’s the only reason CFCF set up their HD transmitter early. Otherwise, it wouldn’t really matter. They will run one or other other, but generally not both (not at full power or in the proper installation location).
Progress is where you can move more information on less bandwidth, where you can deliver a quality signal right to the fringes of your coverage area without snow, and where you can add digital sub-channels and information services that were not possible before. All this while freeing up some much needed bandwidth for other advances in technology.
“About as small as the number of people who watch digital TV over the air”
Actually, because of simsub, the presence of the HD transmitter is huge. It isn’t just about a few people who have both and HD set and only an over the air antenna, but all the rest that comes with it.
I would say, without being rude here, that you are probably the worst person to write this article for the Gazoo, because you appear to have already come to your conclusion before gathering your facts.
I’m going to be speaking to the department of Canadian Heritage tomorrow, so hopefully they can set me straight on a few things. Among them:
– Why this is being sold as smaller bandwidth, but the bandwidth of each channel isn’t changing. They can fit more signals into that bandwidth by having digital subchannels if they choose to, but they aren’t.
– Why the digital conversion is necessary to free up spectrum on Channels 52-69, instead of just reassigning lower channels to transmitters on those channels (which is what they’re doing anyway in non-mandatory markets). Even Canada’s largest market, Toronto, only has about 25 over-the-air channels, and that’s including those from Buffalo, Barrie and Kitchener.
– Why digital subchannels aren’t being used in Canada
I’ve actually gathered most of my facts already. As for conclusions, my goal isn’t to come to any, but merely to provide people with information about the transition.
To reiterate, I’m not against digital television or over-the-air television. I am still waiting for someone to give me a reason why this needs to be forced on broadcasters and consumers, at the cost of millions of dollars to the former and dozens of dollars to the latter, when neither side seems to be pushing for it and there’s no obvious benefit to the government itself. Perhaps there’s an answer that has eluded me, and I will try to find it.
“It makes more economic sense if nobody switches at all.”
“… As for conclusions, my goal isn’t to come to any, but merely to provide people with information about the transition.”
Seems that you’re already giving conclusions, having made up your mind – there seem to be a lot of commenters here who seem think that OTA digital tv is useful in general, even if the implementation leaves some to be desired. Why even ask, if you’re not gonna listen?
Again, I have no problem with over-the-air digital TV. But I don’t get the argument that it somehow “makes more economic sense” to force broadcasters to spend millions of dollars on new transmitters and millions of consumers to buy new receiving equipment. I’m trying to keep an open mind about this, and I will change my mind if someone comes up with the magic answer here, but it seems pretty obvious to me that if there was one, I would have heard it by now.
If you want to interpret that as me not listening, then I can’t really stop you.
Steve, in the short run, it never makes economic sense for broadcasters to spend a penny. By your logic, there is absolutely no reason for CTV to build a new set for the news. The old set was fine. Except it wasn’t, for a whole bunch of reasons.
In the long run, it makes a whole pile of economic sense. The transmitters are simpler, the method of transmission is simpler, the method of getting the signal from the studio to the transmitter can be simpler, and there is effectively zero loss in the whole process. The 1s and 0s remain 1s and 0s. It greatly simplifies many of the things that need to be done each day to keep the stations on the air, to keep them producing news and other content, etc. While they spend money now, in the long run they make it back, and then some.
There is a question of quality as well, offering a high end, 100% true signal to the vast majority of viewers. The signal doesn’t degrade until you hit the fringes. No ghosts, no interference, just “it works or it don’t”. I have watched WCAX with an indoor antenna, with 35% signal which was just enough for my TV to accept it (I did that for a super bowl a couple of years ago). If I could get the signal, it was perfect.
Analog TV is 40s and 50s technology, which got a “pig with lipstick” makeover in the late 60s to allow for color (which was done in a manner that allowed for the B&W signal to be viewable by old sets). It’s ancient, it’s poor quality, and it’s prone to signal issues. Just like an old clunker car, it’s a tired format that has lived out it’s time. Just like the move from AM to FM to get significantly better audio, this is a move that makes sense for all sides.
Except CTV wasn’t forced by the government to build a new set for the news. You see the difference?
If that was the case, it would have been done years ago. Just about every broadcaster is keeping its analog transmitter running until literally the last minute. The CBC has basically said it’s never going to convert its transmitters in small areas. And the industry has, for the most part, been resisting this transition in general. Considering that profit is their main motivation, that indicates to me that they don’t expect to make their money back “and then some” from this transition.
Funny you mention that, because the experiment that was digital audio broadcasting has been an utter failure in Canada. The quality was better than FM, it was also an “all-or-nothing” proposition, and it would have solved a lot of problems (particularly how clogged the FM band is). But the audience was still on FM, so broadcasters didn’t want to move.
The issue isn’t so much whether X is better than Y. It’s whether X is so much better than Y that the broadcasters and consumers are willing to spend significant amounts of money to make the switch. Like FM radio, it seems analog television has been considered good enough for most people. Most of those who really care about HDTV have cable or satellite service.
Digital radio was a losing idea because there wasn’t any support on the equipment side. Radios are common equipment on cars, and they generally have a “life of car” thing on them. Considering how much radio listening is done in a car, this would be a key market to get to convert to digital radios. There was no support for this from the manufacturers, and the radios remained AM-FM. This is very different from the process of AM to AM-FM and the process from 8-track to cassette and on to CD. At each step, their was support across the board.
In the case of HD tv, there was huge support on the manufacturing side, and a lot of pressure on everything including from the movie industry, which has been shooting in 16×9 for a very, very, very long time. Getting TV to more or less fall in line with this was a no brainer, considering that computers were getting flat screens which could be any shape or size you want. Making the “movie friendly” was pretty much a no brainer, and at this point, most modern monitors are pretty much “movie” shaped.
The advantage from FM to DAB honestly isn’t enough to make most people shell out for a receiver. Why bother? It would be like the difference in older times between VHS and S-VHS, which most people couldn’t spot with out a logo to confirm it.
The move from SD to HD TV is pretty much as obvious as it gets for anyone. It’s getting out of a Yugo and driving a new Focus. The difference is obvious to almost anyone who checks it out.
Your logic pretty much applies to the difference between dial and touch tone phones. It took a very long time to get the last of the last off of rotary dial phones (because they “worked”), the advantage of touch tone was not enough to get people to move. It was expensive for the phone company to invest initially, but in the end, it has saved them a ton of money.
Canadian Broadcasters don’t want to do anything because, quite simply, they are cheap, they don’t have big budgets, and they have absolutely no motivation to change. The only reason CTV put up an HD transmitter early (and they could have put it up quite a while ago) was to get superbowl sim-sub on cable. Talk about “motivation”. If you use what the broadcasters are willing to spend on to decide what is valid, we would still be watching black and white TV and listening to AM radio.
The DAB radio system in Canada had no attraction to it for several reasons.
1- Not to many units available. I think you can still find a model over at amazon.ca
2- The system was for Canada only. What good is that when most Canadians live close to the US border.
3- The stations on DAB band where the exact same channels that where on the air as AM and FM. What’s the point? The US’s HD-Radio though allows FM digital stations to piggyback onto their analog spot, and also provides the ability for sub-channels all in digital. When your favorite station goes from 1 analog station to 3 digital stations. You have some interest in purchasing a new AM/FM radio with built in HD Radio.
The point being that you need to offer something extra for people to buy into any new technology.
As for HDTV in Canada. Sure there doesn’t seem to be any movement on sub-channels like in the US. But, since most Canadians live close to the US border, they get to enjoy the extra channels available as sub-channels anyway.
I could see a use for sub-channels within the Montreal market….
12.1 – CTV
12.2 – CTV2
6.1 – CBC
6.2 – CBC News Channel or Bold
15.1 – Global
15.2 – 100 Huntly Street all the time. (Just joking)
Also, something you might not be aware about all these new digital OTA systems like ATSC & HD-Radio is that they consume these power than their analog contour parts. I remember that WCFE-TV was something like 700kw to cover the same area. They are now at 55kw. CKMI-TV was suppose to have been at 33kw. CKMI-DT is now suppose to be at 8kw. CFCF-TV was around 325kw. Their final CFCF-DT position on the small channel is suppose to be about 11kw. The general rule of thumb is 10 to 1. But will vary depending on the channel being used. The higher the channel number, the more power is needed.
With all the stations up on Mount-Royal changing channel positions, you can estimate less power being used to deliver a better signal for OTA viewers.
I think 1 was mainly caused by 2. Without the U.S. on board the market isn’t nearly as large for equipment, and new cars won’t come with it standard.
There would be issues if they tried to do this with a specialty channel though. Cable and satellite providers don’t like it when broadcasters provide their channels for free to the public but charge a wholesale rate to the distributors. This dispute caused Radio-Canada to pull its live web feed of RDI from its website. Sun News had a similar issue simulcasting its channel on its over-the-air station in Toronto. It has since decided to give up the over-the-air license.
Having CTV2 as a subchannel might be interesting. There’s no such channel in Montreal, and it’s not even on Videotron. It would probably need to be licensed, but if CTV wanted to it could probably do that and maybe even get some simultaneous substitution ad money.
If they watch it that little:
a) they won’t miss it
b) why the fuck should the cbc be spending all kinds of money chasing their asses over it?
I’m not convinced this market is anything other than 5 members of the Springfield Retirement Castle screaming about Matlock.
I have a slight suspicion my tv sucks. It’s gotta be 10+ years old. Ralph can’t remember where he got it, and we got it from him 8 years ago. If it dies oh well get a new one (being as I and now the husband are essentially blind in one we haven’t been all excited about an HDTV but it’s sort of half assed on our list).
But we watch a lot of tv. Especially in the winter. And yeah have cable.
I haven’t seen any commercials for the record about this. Didn’t even know it was going on beyond some vague yammering from you.
&&&As for the conversion, let’s consider the facts. Outside of discount places, you have not been able to buy an analog TV for a years now. Since the US started it’s conversion, they have been scarce, and the market dried up already years ago. If you have bought a TV in the last 3 or 4 years, you almost certainly bought a DTV enabled TV.&&&
HOGWASH!!, When the USA forced US stores to sell televisions that had built in ATSC tuners (2005 or 2006). Walmart and other US based stores flooded the Canadian market with all legally unsellable Big screens and flatscreens. That is the main reason why big screens dropped in price a couple of years back.. To this day there re still flat screens being sold as HDTV with a NTSC tuner only on it.
The Harper government and the CRTC has done a piss poor job of handling this conversion. the public spots on the conversion run by bell and shaw are disguised ads to get people to sign up to cable or satellite tv. And when you call SHAW / Global for information from the website, all you get are recordings
As for the coupon program the USA had , it made sense because those are public airwaves that the government is confiscating in order to sell them off. Compensation to buy decorders is not a question of being generousm it should be viewed as compensation.
BTW those converters finally popping up in stores are 30 to 50% more expensive than in the states.
Jacques from laprairie.
PS: Global sucks for turning off channel 46, 2 weeks ahead of the date, without warning
I live in Toronto, have an old analog TV that’s dying, and bought a converter box for $40 when the US switched to work with my indoor rabbit ears. For the first time, I got FOX and the CW, and PBS came clearer, with a way better picture than ever before. NBC, CBS, and ABC were spotty; it was almost seasonal. But I’d never received their analog signals. Most surprising of all, it was like I had a new TV. My old TV’s picture rendering had been starting to get unwatchable, but it cleared up with going digital. The converter box I got allows analog pass-through. But I soon won’t need that feature.
What I really like about DTV, aside from the incredibly clear picture, is the subchannels and all the info you get. No more need to hunt around for the TV Guide. With a press of a button, you get time, channel info, program title, description, and what’s on next. If you can afford a Sony, the TV guide feature is better than what sat and cable companies provide. In comparison, the Canadian broadcasters seem to be hissing and spitting all the way to the transition date, petulantly refusing to take advantage of this amazing leap in technology. Citytv can’t even be bothered to program in the right time. There is no OTA sports channel in Canada, but NBC broadcasts Universal Sports on its subchannel. Imagine if CBC did that, as well as broadcasting its News Network on another subchannel. Since we pay for it through taxes, it should.
As for cost. TVs die. Those of us on limited income will either have to buy a new TV, which will be digital, or do without. Given the TV penetration rate in this country and all the satellites I see on social housing, I don’t think people do without their TV. I bought a TV/monitor — for some reason an electronic device called a monitor is half the price of one called a TV. I had cable on my 2nd TV for the first time in my adult life for a few years, but cancelled it, saved up a few months, and installed an outdoor antenna. The number of channels I got shot up, and the choice in Toronto is mind-boggling. New stations are coming on it seems every month so far, mostly from the US. I can’t wait until TVO (TV Ontario) goes digital here tomorrow. I know I’m fortunate living in Toronto with regard to TV viewing choice.
Digital is worth the transition. We’re only just seeing the tip of the iceberg in what it can bring to our TV viewing. Canada has done it very badly. The US did a good job and kept in mind the needs of the not-well-off. If people knew the advantage in picture quality (HDTV OTA is significantly better than over cable) and price, they’d be moving to OTA. I think that’s why Canada has done such a bad job in transitioning: cable and sat biz would lose customers.
While I am certainly financially able to afford a high end cable/satellite package, I despise dealing with Rogers or Bell. That’s why I am a re-born OTAer. Plus I get US HDTV channels without the Global or CTV simsubs. In my west Toronto neighbourhood, you can see many million dollar homes with a new 8-bay UHF antenna mounted on the chimney.
People who have re-discovered OTA as way to get a superior HDTV experience are not being mentioned much in the media. It’s all about the poor, old analog hold-outs (insert photo of senior citizen with rabbit ears here) .
The analog extension is absurd. CBC should have used (even been forced to use?) subchannels (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subchannel) to serve these cities.
Market forces aren’t working because they are being suppressed by big cablecos/telcos
Have an analogue 24 in athode ray TV bought at Canadian Tire 3 years ago.
I hate LCD back-lit screens.
This was to replace my 15 year old black and white 12 in portable that flips
the lower band (subtitle region) upside down.
I get 8 channels now, but according to TVfool.com and their “radar maps”
I wil get only 4 of those and lose SRC (no transmitter) under the digital regime.
Well I am using my last weeks of analogue to get my fill of SRC and I miss
Jocylene Blouin doing the meteo, whom I have followed as a child from her days
TLMEP is shadowed on Sunday night radio. I generally prefer (as I noted
in a “Globe and Mail poll as their favourite platform) radio.
I see that CTV refers to Bell and they recommend TVFool.com to see what
is available. Then they switch you to Their store “The Source” (ex-Radio Shack)
for external antenna chart and 4 A-D decoders, one with PVR coming 24 August.
I’m still of mixed mind about it.
Sears department store has a bunch of non-HD ( 720i ) A-D boses for $60.
I could buy there and return if no working.
But I am looking at DurhamRadio.com where I buy other radio gear by
maila order for what they have. Harder to return, but better machinery.
Lot of TV ending up in the dump in September other than as viewers for
videotapes and DVDs.
CTV refers you to BELL which sends you to THE SOURCE because they are all part of the BELL MEDIA family.
Over the air HDTV allows you many choices for a DVR/PVR where as cableco’s tell you your options. I have a TiVo Premiere – pretty much the best on the market. Nearly all Canadian cableco’s don’t provide the cablecard it require to run on digital cable.
“Digital television is being forced on us for reasons that still elude me.” – it’s all about the simsubs. Global and CTV can’t simsub US HDTV shows without have an OTA equivalent. DTV transmitters are also much cheaper to run after the conversion – it will pay for itself over time but no one seems to want to talk about that.
I am still running an analog system on rabbit ears, Living in kind of a shadow of mont royal so I hope I get all signals when I buy (soon!) the digital converters (two required). I don’t know if I have to change antenna also.
I am watching more tv on my PC lately, but I am not a big TV watcher.
dvds are watched more than over-the-air signals.
I really hope the same transition to digital doesn’t happen with radio!
Wait until after Sept. 1 for the antenna. That’s when the permanent transmitters will be switched on, and many of them will be of much higher power and have better antenna positions. You might even wait a few days after that in case some decide to do fine-tuning before going up to full power. Chances are you won’t have to change antennas.
The digital transition began for radio about a decade ago in Canada. Except that it didn’t happen. The system was called, and still is called, DAB. There are still some stations in major Canadian cities that are sending their signals in DAB. But for the most part, it a flop.
There is a US based digital radio system in operation for about the past 5 years. It’s called HD-Radio. http://www.hdradio.com
WVPS-FM 107.9 is the only one that I’m aware of whose signal can reach Montreal. Most major US cities have multiply stations in operation.
Steve, or Mr. Fagstein!
Before you write up your article, please spend sometime with somebody who uses OTA. Perhaps a week of watching OTA with somebody who has set up their OTA properly. See what the person gets. For free. No monthly bills.
That way you can write a more balanced article. Because as of right now, your responses seem to be overally against OTA. You seem sold on the idea that somebody has to pay a monthly bill just to get TV. And if they can`t afford that bill, then they must be piss poor picking up gift baskets at Sun Youth.
You need to understand that not all people are poor that use OTA. Most are just money smart.
The broadcasters have know for over a decade that this day was coming. There is no excuse for their foot dragging.
I’m spending a lot of this week watching over-the-air television. It’s not complicated to see what you get and what you don’t get.
I’m hardly against over-the-air transmission. The debate is over the conversion of over-the-air signals to digital.
I think the big difference is that those who don’t have cable or satellite service just don’t watch much TV. It makes sense. Rich or poor, there’s no sense in paying for something you don’t use. Maybe there are some people who have expensive home theatre systems who don’t have cable service, and who take pride in only getting a dozen channels, but I don’t think they represent a large amount of the population.
Thanks for the tvfool.com reference; I just discovered that I can watch Radio-Canada beautifully on channel 19 (the reception on 2 was always horrible)! Of course, this is with my new $200 Dynex flat screen and my rabbit ears. can’t wait to get a better antenna!
The fact that I can choose to either subscribe to cable/satellite, or put up an antenna and STILL have high-definition programming is worth it for me. I am currently viewing the local channels via antenna. I’ve NEVER been able to pull in a picture perfect analog signal no matter which way I turn the antenna. In addition, I think DTV would be a great add-on for those who are “cord-cutting”, receiving their TV programming from the internet.
Regarding the CBC, it’s really not fair for them to get an analog reprieve while the private broadcasters have complied with the analog switchover mandate. It would be worth sacrificing a bit of picture quality on CBC/Radio-Canada’s high definition stream, as long as their sister network is available as a sub-channel in standard definition.
As of last night, Global Montreal (CKMI-DT) is now on the air in digital.
Their new channel number is 15 (15.1)
Funny thing happened today:
While we were watching my new crystal-clear CBC (or was it my new crystal-clear Rad_Can?; can’t remember – I’m amazed by both!), we saw one of the commercials informing us of the change, get a new box, etc etc (with the map of Canada/QUebec, etc). My 4 year old saw the commercial and said “Daddy, you’re going to have to get that (meaning the converter or whatever) or else the tv won’t work!”. I guess the commercial got through to somebody at least!! :)
I can’t wait for this switch to digital to finally be enforced upon TVA and Global, which have been dragging their feets for years.
I have always used antennas and I don’t wathc a lot of TV, but when I do, I still want the best possible image qualily. Analog signal isn’t cutting it on HDTVs.
Also, shame on cable and satellite TV companies who have have been lying to the public for years with their “Your HD TV is useless without our HD Terminal!”.
Global made the switch this week. Its analog transmitter has already been shut down and the digital one is operating on Channel 15.
Global Montreal is just digital or they also now able to broadcast HDTV? Are they now able to sim sub?
Yes, yes and yes.
So, I can’t get Global (on 15 now) at all. I get RadCan and CBC beautifully though. Do you think it’ll be good after Sept 1st?
Also, I have a question. I’ve programmed my tv (a cheapo Dynex flatscreen) to skip over the old channels 2 and 6; it goes to 2.1 and 6.1 now when I “channel hop”. However, if I specifically enter “2” on my remote, it goes to the analog channel, and not the 2.1. Anyone know how I can go to 2.1 and 6.1 on my remote (and will I have this same problem for the others after the switch?
Global has already made the permanent transition, so what you get now is what you’re going to get.
This really depends on the TV. It could be when those channels go dark and you rescan it won’t happen anymore. But that really depends on how your TV itself is programmed.
I would suggest you use the autochannel scan to get the new digital channels as they become available,., and for a while as the channels move around. THAT was the advice being giving during the US transition.
Your remote control needs a `.` key ( point ) ( dot) (decimal divider) what ever you want to call it.
If you dont have one on the remote you cant use the remote to get to 2.1 6.1 15.1 etc etc etc (as the king of siam would say)
Beware when buying a remote because they are still selling `dot`less remotes.
Some people are reporting that they are having problems getting their TV’s to lock onto CKMI-DT 15.1 (Global) with a auto scan. Enter the channel number 15.1 and check the TV’s built in signal meter. Usually located somewhere in the main menu.
Try not to block out channels. Wait until September 1st to let everything settle done. The analogs will disappear by themselves by then. Also, don’t forget, your TV probably has a built in NTSC (analog) and ATSC (digital) tuners. If you enter a whole number (2) while there is a (2.1) subnumber, then your TV will assume you want 2. After the analog shutdown, when the 2 will be gone, then entering 2 will take you to 2.1
At least that is how it works on my TV.
Also not, that CBMT-DT (CBC) has moved from channel 20 to channel 21 over night. You will need to autoscan that in order for the 6.1 remap to associate with channel 21, and not channel 20.
As you can see, things are moving around until September 1st. On September 1st, do a auto rescan, and if any stations don’t come in. Enter them manually.
Thanks Jacques and ATSC. I DO have a . on my remote (never noticed it!). I did not try 15.1 yet though (duh!), I’ll try it tonight (though autoscan didn’t pick it up). As for 2 remapping to 2.1 after the transition, are you sure? Or is 2.1 going to actually be on 2 then? Bah, I’m not gonna worry about it, we’ll see after Sept 1! :)
Me again. So autoscan picked up 15.1 today. Sometimes it comes in, and sometimes it’s just a black screen. Guess that’s the best I’ll get for Global with the rabbit ears I have. I hope I’ll get TeleQuebec better than that, otherwise I’ll have to buy a better antenna.
Télé-Québec is already broadcasting (and has been for some time). Its digital transmitter, however, is on the Olympic Stadium, not Mount Royal. So if you’re on the west side of the island, you might have trouble getting it. If you don’t get it now, you probably won’t after Sept. 1 either.
You may need something better than a rabbit ear antenna. I’m assuming that you can only place a antenna indoors.
Take a look at the following.
Channel Master CM4040
Channel Master 4220HD
Antennas Direct DB2
Wingard Freevision FV-HD30
The first one is good. The other three are better.
Also, try and keep your antenna away from electric appliances as the antenna will pick up the electronic noise coming off those things.
As well, all digital channels will appear with a dot or dash. example 2.1, 15.1 even after the analogs are shutdown. That’s what happened with the US channels.
So I decided to get the Winegard Freevision FV-HD30, based on your recommendation and the reviews for each one that you mentioned. Where’s the best place to buy it in Canada? I’ve found it on a couple of websites, but they’re sites I’ve never seen before, and I worry about buyingfrom unkown websites. Any brick and mortar stor ein Montreal where I can buy one?
Global has a bare minimum(40 or so) good signal on channel 15 in NDG.
Very cheap move on their part.
The access hd has some trouble picking it up.
The tivax st-8 is a lot better.
I can’t get channel 17(tele-quebec
) at all on hd.
CBMT when it was on, I was getting at close to 100 signal strength.
All with an indoor antenna.
Don’t forget, if you use a good outdoor antenna you will catch the border stations as well.
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I’m confused. I had heard about this one year extension on Dan Laxer’s radio show, as he had interviewed a tech guy today. What does this extension mean for me. I do have an antenna, which originally got me all the networks. My TV upstairs (bought it in the fall) is newer than the one downstairs.
With this extension, will CTV disappear but CBC will continue airing in analog? Will I still be able to listen to CBC on 87.7 or will that disappear too? and If I just got a new tv in the past year, but on an antenna, will I still lose the signal?
I’m trying to understand all these articles but I am not really well versed in technology and I am wondering what I should expect tomorrow. We are going to get the new converter but we are trying to pin down the guy to help set it up.
Nothing. It doesn’t affect any stations in Montreal. They’re all switching to digital on schedule, except for Canal Savoir.
Not in Montreal. CTV has already switched, and CBC’s analog transmitter should go down in the next 24 hours.
That’s an analog signal, so it’ll go dark when they shut the transmitter down.
If your TV is that recent, it’s probably an HDTV and it almost certainly has a digital tuner unless you bought it off the back of a pickup truck or something. You should be getting most channels in digital HD already. If not, check the manual to see how you can do a channel scan.
I am truly P.O’d with having my tv. taken away from me. For why, I do not know. the whole thing is an exercise in stupidity. I have had antennae tv for 19 years and was quite happy with it. Most of the tv. that is on cable etc. is not worthwhile paying to view. I have been receiving, CBC, CTV, GLOBAL, TVO, HAMILTON AND THE FRENCH STATION -which of course, I do not view – I don’t need anymore than that.
As TVO and CBC are public broadcasting stations, paid for by the tax payers dollars, I feel that they should be obligated to continue with analogue, for the sake of people who cannot afford the so called luxury of cable, sattelite tv. As for the CRTC wanting these stations or airways for radio, whatever, is a croc.
As you may have found, the digital signal through a $50 box to your set
via a 75 to 300 ohm $4 device to change from spade screws to a coax cable
or from a twin lead to F connector brings in allchannels. Rabbit ears are good enough.
OTA, Toronto receives about 20 channels /subs from Buffalo including Me-TV ( super retro plus Yankees baseball), RTV (retro plus some Canadian stuff), and TCT(3)-Family (religion / family retro) as well as The Cool-TV (pop music videos, new and old). All of the above, plus ION and MY-TV, are generally excluded(!) from cable delivery and some the major networks had their affiliate border city changed for Cdn. national satellite service.
Plus all of the Cdn digital broadcasts are now viewable in complete widescreen for my 21 year TV with a $60 RCA converter and an indoor antenna. Std def subchannels are being concurrently viewed in their screen filling 4/3 format.
In just three weeks, in a South facing apartment, I have picked up another 1+2+3(PBS)+2+4(tct)=12 stns from Rochester and 3PBS feeds one night from Erie, Penn. Usually only 4 these (via Rochester) are semi-regularly received. Never have I received any of these via analog.
Hamilton and CTS have had early trouble with matching their analog power level abilities. Sun News, another non-cable owned station loses it broadcasting licence as of Oct 31st. Yet they made the digital switch as well, and in advance.
Why doesn’t the CBC add Newsworld or Bold to its line-up as a subchannel? Why doesn’t Hamilton (CH and CTS) retransmit from the CN Tower as its own subchannel? Why not a few cable stations from the Shaw line-up, here in Rogers’ ville? Why not a time-shift sub for TVO? City’s largest city and population area, World’s highest broadcast tower of 30 years and instead I get more results from the likes of Rochester and Erie, Penn.
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