Corus asks CRTC to shut down 44 Global TV transmitters

Eight years after Shaw promised the CRTC it would upgrade Global TV’s network of over-the-air television transmitters to digital, Corus says it wants to abandon that plan before its completion and shut down 44 of Global’s 93 transmitters across the country, including 24 that have already been converted to digital.

In an application filed last week with the commission, Corus explains that the affected rebroadcasting transmitters “generate no incremental revenue, and attract little to no added viewership for Corus. They are also costly to maintain, and we expect expenses to increase as a result of the Government of Canada’s re-allotment plan for the 600 MHz band.”

In 2010, when Shaw purchased the television assets of Canwest Global, part of the tangible benefits proposal to get the CRTC approve the sale was to allocate $23 million to convert 67 analog TV transmitters to digital, in markets small enough to not be included in the mandatory analog-to-digital conversion. Those transmitters were mostly inherited from stations under previous ownership, and are unequally distributed. The two B.C. stations have 37 transmitters between them, and there are 17 for the two stations in Atlantic Canada.

Global is composed of 16 licensed stations with a total of 93 transmitters.

The conversion process was put on hold when ISED, which manages radio frequency allocations, put a moratorium on new TV transmitters as it considered what to do with the TV band. The government has since approved a plan to reallocate TV channels in the 600 MHz band (channels above Channel 37) to more wireless services, and lifted the moratorium.

Corus says it has upgraded all but 20 of the transmitters to digital, and spent all but $2,365,774 of the $23 million for this purpose, including upcoming conversions in Wolfville, N.S., and Trail, B.C., which are not on the list of transmitters it wishes to close. “Of the 20 remaining sites, almost all serve small or very small populations,” it says.

So rather than spend the remaining money on these low-value transmitters, Corus has proposed to reallocate that remaining $2.3 million to other groups, including $892,771.16 to the Canada Media Fund, and money to industry associations and journalism departments. (The full list is below.)

But Corus isn’t just proposing to drop the 20 remaining analog transmitters. It is also “electing” to shut down 24 transmitters it has already converted to digital.

“In light of the challenges faced by Corus’s conventional broadcasting business, and the minimal disruption to viewers in the affected communities, this plan is sensible from a business perspective and upholds Corus’s commitment to its audiences,” the application reads. “These transmitters are all located in small markets that are predominantly served by originating transmitters in adjacent larger markets, and none of the transmitters deliver programming that differs from that which is delivered by the originating transmitters.”

Corus estimates 1.5 million Canadians live in the areas covered by those transmitters, but “less than 20,000 viewers will be impacted” by the transmitter shutdowns. (It’s unclear how it came to this number.)

Shutting down transmitters has negative results for Corus, the main one being that it can no longer request simultaneous substitution of Global TV programming in those areas. But the advantages there are apparently outweighed by the costs.

Of the new recipients of the tangible benefits funding, some have recently had financial support cut by Corus following its acquisition of Shaw Media in 2016, and this reallocation is in part an attempt to replace that funding.

“Following the acquisition of Shaw Media in April 2016, Corus undertook a review of the industry organizations that were being supported at that time by both companies to ensure there was a strategic focus going forward that supported the business and its industry stakeholders,” it says. “This review resulted in difficult decisions being made to decrease or wind down its commitments to some industry organizations.”

A full list of proposed recipients is below.

The shutdown of small-town retransmitters follows similar moves by other networks. CBC/Radio-Canada and TVO shut down hundreds of small TV transmitters in 2012. In 2016, Bell Media sought to shut down 40 CTV and CTV Two transmitters as part of a licence renewal.

Transmitters to be shut down

The full list of Global TV transmitters is below, with those to be shut down in bold and all of them listed with their power (in maximum ERP). Of the 44 transmitters, 29 are below 1,000 watts of power. The biggest affected transmitter is in Smiths Falls, Ont., at 10kW.

Transmitters that have been converted to digital are marked with “DT”.

Global BC transmitters in B.C. (17/26):

  • CHAN-DT Vancouver (40,000W)
  • CHAN-DT-1 Chilliwack (428W)
  • CHAN-DT-2 Bowen Island (954W)
  • CHAN-DT-3 Squamish (428W)
  • CHAN-DT-4 Courtenay (4,450W)
  • CHAN-DT-5 Brackendale (242W)
  • CHAN-DT-6 Wilson Creek (4,300W)
  • CHAN-DT-7 Whistler (348W)
  • CHKL-DT Kelowna (35,000W)
  • CHKL-DT-1 Penticton (3,000W)
  • CHKL-DT-2 Vernon (4,000W)
  • CHKL-DT-3 Revelstoke (80W)
  • CHKM-DT Kamloops (30,000W)
  • CHKM-DT-1 Pritchard (781W)
  • CIFG-DT Prince George (30,000W)
  • CISR-DT Santa Rosa (2,255W)
  • CISR-DT-1 Grand Forks (513W)
  • CITM-DT 100 Mile House (4,284W)
  • CITM-DT-1 Williams Lake (687W)
  • CITM-DT-2 Quesnel (569W)
  • CKKM-TV Oliver (930W)
  • CKTN-TV Trail (18,000W) — To be converted to digital
  • CKTN-TV-1 Castlegar (30W)
  • CKTN-DT-2 Taghum (1,450W)
  • CKTN-TV-3 Nelson (330W)
  • CKTN-TV-4 Creston (50W)

Global Okanagan transmitters in B.C. (7/10):

  • CHBC-DT Kelowna (35,000W)
  • CHBC-DT-1 Penticton (3,000W)
  • CHBC-DT-2 Vernon (3,900W)
  • CHBC-TV-3 Oliver (220W)
  • CHBC-TV-4 Salmon Arm (486W)
  • CHBC-TV-5 Enderby (2,400W)
  • CHBC-TV-7 Skaha Lake/Penticton (40W) 
  • CHBC-TV-8 Canoe (38W)
  • CHBC-TV-9 Apex Mountain (12W)
  • CHRP-TV-2 Revelstoke (80W)

Global Lethbridge transmitters in Alberta (5/6):

  • CISA-DT Lethbridge (19,700W)
  • CISA-TV-1 Burmis (409W)
  • CISA-TV-2 Brooks (14W)
  • CISA-TV-3 Coleman (8W)
  • CISA-TV-4 Waterton Park (8W)
  • CISA-TV-5 Pincher Creek (8W)

Global Calgary retransmitters in Alberta (2/3):

  • CICT-DT Calgary (50,000W)
  • CICT-TV-1 Drumheller (9W)
  • CICT-TV-2 Banff (10W)

Global Edmonton transmitters in Alberta (0/2):

  • CITV-DT Edmonton (25,000W)
  • CITV-DT-1 Red Deer (132,000W)

Global Regina transmitters in Saskatchewan (1/2):

  • CFRE-DT Regina (17,400W)
  • CFRE-TV-2 Fort Qu’appelle (61W)

Global Saskatoon transmitter (0/1):

  • CFSK-DT Saskatoon (30,000W)

Global Winnipeg transmitters in Manitoba (0/2):

  • CKND-DT Winnipeg (25,100W)
  • CKND-DT-2 Minnedosa (30,500W)

Global Toronto transmitters in Ontario (0/13):

  • CIII-DT-41 Toronto (100,000W)
  • CFGC-DT Sudbury (11,700W)
  • CFGC-DT-2 North Bay (16,800W)
  • CIII-DT Paris (165,000W)
  • CIII-TV-2 Bancroft (100,000W)
  • CIII-DT-4 Owen Sound (192,000W)
  • CIII-DT-6 Ottawa (145,000W)
  • CIII-DT-7 Midland (6,750W)
  • CIII-DT-12 Sault Ste. Marie (6,000W)
  • CIII-DT-13 Timmins (30,000W)
  • CIII-DT-22 Stevenson (49,000W)
  • CIII-DT-27 Peterborough (275,000W)
  • CIII-DT-29 Sarnia/Oil Springs (184,000W)

Global Peterborough transmitters in Ontario (1/2):

  • CHEX-DT Peterborough (20,000W)
  • CHEX-TV-1 Bancroft (59W)

Global Durham transmitter in Ontario (0/1):

  • CHEX-TV-2 Oshawa (5,500W)

Global Kingston transmitters in Ontario (1/4):

  • CKWS-DT Kingston (9,400W)
  • CKWS-DT-1 Brighton (938W)
  • CKWS-TV-2 Prescott (7,200W)
  • CKWS-TV-3 Smiths Falls (10,000W)

Global Montreal transmitters in Quebec (0/3):

  • CKMI-DT-1 Montreal (8,000W)
  • CKMI-DT Quebec City (18,000W)
  • CKMI-DT-2 Sherbrooke (1,000W)

Global New Brunswick transmitters in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island (3/7):

  • CHNB-DT Saint John (6,000W)
  • CIHF-DT-1 Fredericton (28,000W)
  • CIHF-DT-3 Moncton (86,000W)
  • CIHF-DT-11 Woodstock (4,470W)
  • CIHF-DT-12 St. Stephen (2,200W)
  • CIHF-DT-13 Miramichi (4,400W)
  • CIHF-DT-14 Charlottetown, P.E.I. (6,400W)

Global Halifax transmitters in Nova Scotia (7/10):

  • CIHF-DT Halifax (1,000W)
  • CIHF-DT-4 Truro (3,500W)
  • CIHF-TV-5 Wolfville (166,000W) — To be converted to digital
  • CIHF-DT-6 Bridgewater (17,500W)
  • CIHF-DT-7 Sydney (65,000W)
  • CIHF-DT-8 New Glasgow (3,700W)
  • CIHF-DT-9 Shelburne (11,300)
  • CIHF-DT-10 Yarmouth (4,900W)
  • CIHF-DT-15 Antigonish (7,000W)
  • CIHF-DT-16 Mulgrave (181W)

Unaffected independently-owned stations:

  • CFHD-DT Thunder Bay, Ont. (1,200W)
  • CKSA-DT Lloydminster, Sask. (8,100W)
    • CKSA-TV-2 Bonnyville, Alta. (41,500W)

Proposed tangible benefits recipients

  • Canada Media Fund: $892,771.16
  • Industry associations: $600,000
    • Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television: $250,000
    • Canadian Media Producer’s Association: $250,000 (the CMPA declined this amount, so Corus will add it to the CMF’s allocation instead)
    • Women in Film and Television Toronto: $50,000
    • Ontario Association of Broadcasters (OAB): $10,000
    • Western Association of Broadcasters (WAB): $10,000
    • British Columbia Association of Broadcasters (BCAB): $10,000
    • Radio Television Digital News Association of Canada (RTDNA Canada): $20,000
  • Industry conferences: $450,000
    • Content Canada: $200,000
    • Real Screen Summit: $125,000
    • Kidscreen Summit: $125,000
  • Journalism and broadcasting education programs: $423,000
    • BCIT (Vancouver) – Broadcast and Online Journalism Diploma (2yr): $30,000
    • Okanagan College (Okanagan) – Diploma in Journalism Studies (2yr): $10,000
    • Mount Royal University (Calgary) – Bachelor of Communication-Journalism (2yr): $10,000
    • Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (Calgary) – Diploma in Journalism (2yr): $20,000
    • MacEwan University (Edmonton) – Bachelor of Communication – Journalism (4yr): $10,000
    • Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (Edmonton) – Radio & Television (2yr): $20,000
    • Lethbridge College (Lethbridge) – Digital Communications and Media (2yr): $30,000
    • University of Regina (Regina) – Bachelor of Journalism (4yr) + Master’s: $20,000
    • Red River College (Winnipeg) – Creative Communications (2yr): $20,000
    • Carleton University (Ottawa) – Bachelor of Journalism (4yr) + Master’s: $17,000
    • Algonquin College (Ottawa) – Diploma in Journalism (2yr): $10,000
    • Trent University (Peterborough) – Bachelor of Journalism (4yr): $15,000
    • UOIT (Durham) – Communications and Digital Media Studies (4yr): $20,000
    • Durham College (Durham) – Journalism (2yr/3yr) / Broadcasting (2yr): $10,000
    • Ryerson University (Toronto) – RSJ & RTA: $17,000
    • Centennial College (Toronto) – Advanced Diploma in Journalism (3yr): $15,000
    • Humber College (Toronto) – Advanced Diploma in Journalism (3yr): $20,000
    • Seneca College (Toronto) – Diploma (2yr) and joint degree with York (4yr): $20,000
    • Mohawk College (Hamilton) – Journalism (3yr) / Broadcasting: $20,000
    • Conestoga College (Kitchener) – Diploma in Journalism (2yr): $14,000
    • Fanshawe College (London) – Diploma in Journalism – Broadcast (2yr): $20,000
    • Concordia University (Montreal) – Investigative Journalism Institute Journalism BA (4yr): $30,000
    • University of King’s College (Halifax) – Bachelor of Journalism (4yr) + Master’s: $10,000
    • Nova Scotia Community College (Halifax) – Diploma in Radio Television Journalism (2yr): $15,000

Total: $2,365,771.16

The CRTC is accepting comments on Corus’s application (2018-0936-0) until 8pm ET on Dec. 10. You can file comments online here.

UPDATE: The application received 11 interventions, four of which were from interest groups discussing the reallocated benefits. Corus argues this application is not about whether they can shut down the transmitters, because CRTC approval is not required to do so.

UPDATE (June 13): The CRTC has approved the application, though it ordered (by majority vote) changes to the tangible benefits reallocation to give more money to the Canada Media Fund.

19 thoughts on “Corus asks CRTC to shut down 44 Global TV transmitters

  1. Andy Reid

    So if they get the go ahead, they will have some spare digital transmitters. Hopefully they will re-purpose these in other areas still served by analog

  2. Anonymous

    Makes total sense to shut down re-transmitters that are a waste of time. If you live in one of those smaller out of the way markets, its a good chance that people are subscribing to some sort of Cable or Sat service.

    The old analog NTSC transmitters should have been put to bed almost a decade ago. And those that have been converted to ATSC 1.0, will need to be changed for ATSC 3.0 in the next decade.
    Plus, within the next two years some of those ATSC 1.0 transmitters maybe forced to change their transmitting frequency due to the resent re-pack that is currently going on. A re-pack that will pick speed in 2019. This will also effect stations in the Montreal area as well.

    The only thing that I would suggest that Corus do is increase the power of their main station by the total power of the re-trsnsmitters shut down.

    Example: Lets take CISA-DT in Lethbridge, AB.
    The suggestion is it shuts down five analog re-transmitters. Total power of the five is 447w.
    They should be told to add that 447w the the main CISA-DT transmitter to bring it up to 20,147w
    It’s not much of a power boast. But, if you live on the digital cliff of that stations OTA signal, it’ll make a difference.

    The good thing about this shut down is that some places might decide to start up their own local stations. Perhaps even affiliate with the main networks, and even offer mult-casting. At least those that can make a business case for it.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      The 600 MHz repack was cited by Corus as a factor in the decision.

      As for increasing power for main stations, adding a few watts of power would make no significant difference in their coverage area, and some of those transmitters may be at the limits of what is allowed by their class or requirements to protect other stations.

  3. dilbert

    “Corus estimates 1.5 million Canadians live in the areas covered by those transmitters, but “less than 20,000 viewers will be impacted” by the transmitter shutdowns. (It’s unclear how it came to this number.)”

    Reality is that very, very few people get their TV over the air. Typically, that number is 10% or less. So, even if you take 20% (more than average), you end up with 100,000 viewers in that area, 20,000 of which get the signal over the air. That would seem to be in line with the number of people who might watch any given channel.

    Reference: ” over 90 percent of Canadian households have active television connections, with the majority of them being through digital cable”

    It’s the reality of OTA TV. The numbers of people actually using the OTA signal is quite low, and they are often (and usually) maintained not serve anyone, but rather to maintain control over cable SimSubs. That is where the money is.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      vacating Corus-owned TV spectrum could end up being a good thing for Shaw, which operates Freedom Mobile.

      It’s hard to see any sort of benefit there, though. The government has already decided how much TV spectrum is being reallocated to mobile use, and even after it’s done it’s not like Shaw just gets it directly from Corus. It’ll have to bid for it. If anything, the link between the two is that the government’s reallocation, which might benefit Shaw’s Freedom Mobile, has become an aggravating factor in Corus’s decision because some of those stations would have had to change channels.

  4. Greg Shawnz

    June 14,2019. It seems the transmitter in the Sarnia On area has been shut down. We no longer receive channel 29.1 over the air. In this area of Ontario thousands of homes view over the air tv. The vast majority of the channels are from the United States including all major networks without any CRTC over site. The stations are all digital HD. It’s unfortunate that we are no longer able to watch the Canadian channel. We can no longer see Canadian news or Canadian content broadcasts. It’s just another power play by the big Canadian cable companies. There intent is to force all of us to buy their product by shutting down all other options. The American government is doing a far better job at making sure everyone has access to over the air content. Shame on you Global / Shaw.

      1. Dennis P. Gignac.

        thanks for info! l live in London Ontario, and l have 8 bay outdoor tv antenna on 8th floor facing west! l am exellent with electronics, but even l am confused! l lost so many tv channels, during analog to digital conversion, even in a big city like London! than l applied for L.T.S.S with Shaw Direct Satellite! l had free very basic, than upgraded to basic for $11.30 per month! going up to $25 plus tax in January 2021. but satellite is greatly affected by weather, like lightning, strong winds, and ice and snow buildup! l have lost service so often, l have had to use my antenna so often, so the more tv channels l get on my antenna, the better! but between transmitters shutting down, and moving, l have been having one hell of a time with my O.T.A. TV Channels, last year, and especially this year! London is already one of the worst places to get good or exellent reception using outdoor tv antenna, as it is down in a valley! Thames Valley! 50 miles is max distance, even though l have huge 8 bay outdoor tv antenna on 8th floor(top floor)! facing west! l have had one hell of a time getting global channel 29.1 U.H.F now channel 35 U.H.F!? they haven’t changed their power, but put it lower on the tower!? how much did they lower it by!? if it is lower down, they should have increased power output!(if allowed)!? l occasionally get it on new R.F digital channel 35, and sometimes on R.F vhf digital tv channel 6.1, but not at all the same as when it was on C.I.I.I.
        Global 29.1(UHF)! and if l am having this much trouble where l am, l can imagine other people in London!? do you have any helpful hints and suggestions, as to get global to come in better and more often!? l lost my last analog tv channel CKCO(CTV) CH42 from same area, back on May 2nd, 2020.l can’t get other Kitchener TV station from Baden, some 42 miles northeast of me! l have tried everything! l get all those tv channels on my basic satellite tv service, but due to lightning, strong winds, and ice/snow buildup in the winter, l loose sat service so often, l use my outdoor tv antenna a lot! and with service going up by 2.5 times in January, l would like to get rid of it, but O.T.A TV is not yet reliable enough to do that! not A.T.S.C. 1.0! Hopefully A.T.S.C. 3.0 will be, if and when it comes to Canada! thanks! bye for now! from Dennis in London ON, Canada.

    1. Ronald Van De Walker

      Well put! Many in the Oshawa area no longer use overpriced cable services. Seniors who cannot afford cable depend OTA to receive their Canadian content. If not we can receive signals from Rochester or Buffalo OTA. Just as we lost the ability to see the final of the CFL we now will miss another take on the Canadian diaspora. As you have stated,SHAME on you Global/Shaw.

  5. Chris B.

    June 24 2019. Just learned of the shut downs now… too bad… I used to like watching global news at my cabin in the Cariboo ( near Lac lahache)…
    Was just looking into buying an antenna thought that was the reason I could no longer receive the signal. Glad I came across this page, I would have been out $100+

  6. Adam

    Ever since broadcast tv switched to digital, several years ago, i have lost at least 75% of all stations that i had access to back in 2006, in cambridge ontario.

    If these idiots keep on shutting down canadian broadcast stations, the CRTC may as well give permission to american broadcast stations, to substantially increase their broadcast power so they can reach all the way to F’ing Whitehorse Yukon!

  7. Alexa

    Well, looks like kamloops has lost its GLOBAL OTA channel 22.1.
    Not impressed, we only had 2 channels here and the other local station is so weak it takes a boosted antenna to bring it in and it’s still snowy.
    The tower is 5 miles from me. ?
    I thought OTA was law in Canada ? Not impressed at ALL.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      Well, looks like kamloops has lost its GLOBAL OTA channel 22.1.

      The Kamloops retransmitter is still listed on Global’s licence, and there has been no announcement to suggest it is giving up on that transmitter. It might be a temporary issue.

      I thought OTA was law in Canada ?

      It is not. The government cannot force a broadcaster to operate a TV transmitter it does not wish to.

  8. SevenT

    Starting from the 1st of December 2020 CIII-DT-41 Toronto has switched off its transmissions shortly after 2335hrs. I am not sure what time they start up again in the morning… presumably at 0600hrs for their morning news show… not sure – I never watched it anyways!

    The CRTC needs to get a handle on this – and soon. I note that Q107 is also one of Corus’ Toronto OTA radio stations… are they going to close down those transmissions as well? Well it follows that if OTA transmissions are so cost-ineffective then surely shutting down Q107, a minority “Classic Rock” radio station, would save them a few shekels as well?

    The Yanks might not get much right – elections, COVID19 management, morbid obesity, allowing FOX News to continue, Humpty Trumpty, Ivanka, Jared, Rudy Giuliani et al. – but the one thing they got RIGHT was enforcing stations to continue OTA broadcasts in order to keep their broadcasting licenses.

    Shame on the CRTC for their limp-wristed reaction to the reduction of services to the more remote areas of Canada (which, in case you didn’t already somehow know, is a very large country.) GLOBAL needs to have their broadcasting contract immediately withdrawn and given over to someone else who will serve the Canadian community with a priority given to “SERVICE” rather than “PROFIT.”

  9. Dave

    We used to watch Global Kingston on the Brighton tower but it has been unavailable for months now. Now we are kept quite up to date on the American news, shame on Canada for making Canadian content tv either unavailable or too costly.

  10. Moe

    Why.why why…I live in the Sudbury area with 2channels and now I have 1.this transmitter was already converted to it for profit over people or just plain greed.not very impressed.


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