Télé Inter-Rives proposes bringing over-the-air TV back to Îles-de-la-Madeleine

There’s not much clearer evidence of the declining industry of over-the-air television than the lack of demand for new TV stations in the country. With some exceptions (ICI in Montreal, for example), there haven’t been applications for new over-the-air stations in about 20 years. Instead, major networks like CBC, TVO and CTV have been shutting down transmitters en masse to save money.

So it’s a bit surprising that someone has submitted an application for a new transmitter, in one of the most remote places in the country: the Magdalen Islands (Îles-de-la-Madeleine), the archipelago in the Gulf of St. Lawrence that belongs to Quebec but is actually closer to all four Atlantic provinces than it is to the Quebec mainland.

The application comes from CHAU, the TVA affiliate in Carleton on the Gaspé peninsula. It’s owned by Télé Inter-Rives, which also operates affiliates of the three major French-language networks (Radio-Canada, TVA and V) in Rivière-du-Loup. In addition to its main transmitter in Carleton, CHAU operates 11 digital retransmitters in the Gaspé peninsula and northern New Brunswick. This would be the 12th transmitter, CHAU-DT-12.

(CHAU, like other independent broadcasters, made the investment to convert their over-the-air transmitters to digital even though they were not required to do so by the government’s digital transition plan because they served small communities.)

Proposed transmission pattern of CHAU-DT-12 in Îles-de-la-Madeleine

CHAU-DT-12 would be a 100-watt station, with a transmitter on Channel 12 in Cap-aux-Meules on the local transmission tower operated by GAD E?lectronique. CHAU puts the cost of the new transmission facility at $37,572. That’s about $3 for each of the region’s 12,000 or so residents.

Because it’s a retransmitter, CHAU-DT-12 wouldn’t be a local station for the islands, but CHAU says it wants to provide local programming, working with independent producers on the islands and doing reporting using technologies like Skype and FaceTime. CHAU says in its application that the residents of the islands have a lot in common with those of the Gaspé peninsula and Acadian communities in New Brunswick, including an interest in fishing.

It promises to devote at least 20 minutes a week to local news relevant to the islands.

The islands haven’t had an over-the-air television transmitter since CBC/Radio-Canada shut down its extensive network of analog TV rebroadcasters in 2012. Before they were shut down, they had two retransmitters of the Radio-Canada station in Montreal (CBIMT and CBIMT-1) and one retransmitter of CBC Montreal (CBMYT).

“In today’s difficult environment for over-the-air television in Canada, the project to extend CHAU’s signal to the Îles-de-la-Madeleine represents an investment that is unexpected but achievable thanks to technical possibilities that reduce installation and operational costs,” the application reads.

The CRTC is accepting comments about CHAU’s application until July 5. Comments can be filed here. Note that all information submitted, including contact information, becomes part of the public record.

6 thoughts on “Télé Inter-Rives proposes bringing over-the-air TV back to Îles-de-la-Madeleine

  1. dilbert

    Not sure where this applications goes. These people have full access to hundreds of satellite channels (Bell). OTA at best adds a small piece of local to the game.

    Perhaps they feel there is enough people in the area to create additional ad revenues, or perhaps to get new ad revenue from local businesses.

  2. Tim

    I wonder if they also offered Radio-Canada, CBC or Télé-Quebec to broadcast their feeds as sub-channels (x.2, x.3). It seems like an opportunity for more revenue for Inter-Rives while keeping costs low for the public broadcasters.

  3. William Moss

    Speaking of new TV stations, have you looked into the approved move and power increase of the Saranac Lake station to WPTZ’s old tower in Peru, NY, (440 kW on channel 34). It should cover the eastern West Island and the West End quite nicely.

    See: https://enterpriseefiling.fcc.gov/dataentry/public/tv/draftCopy.html?displayType=html&appKey=25076f91633cf92d01634fbfcf761aab&id=25076f91633cf92d01634fbfcf761aab&goBack=N



    You can check out the predicted coverage area at https://rabbitears.info/contour.php?appid=25076ff35f58800d015f5f54157119c5&site=1&map=Y&contour=Y&int=N&pop=N&incpop=&excpop=&z1=N&nrqz=N&lprw=N&head=Y&asrn=&extras=&cir=&circen=

  4. Tim Ripley

    CHAU started being carried on local cable last year, and regularly airs a bulletin board for events on the Islands (though the last time I saw it, it was being sponsored by a jeweler in Grande-Riviere, in the Gaspe!).

  5. Jean-Francois

    They are strong and the community radio of the island is very popular. So for me, it could work well and they will be the only on the air and it will be usefull for tourist on camping. During summer, you have people on camping than the population of the islands. When I want last summer, it was strange for me that there was no Tele-Quebec transmitter.


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