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
    • 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.

8 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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    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.

      Reply
  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” https://www.statista.com/topics/2730/television-in-canada/

    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.

    Reply
    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.

      Reply

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