Updated Feb. 23, 2012, with the latest information on transmitters (CKMI now on permanent antenna, CFTU transmitting in digital).
I wrote a feature that appeared in Saturday's Gazette (Page E3, for those clipping) about the transition from analog television to digital, whose deadline is Aug. 31.
The main story focuses mainly on how local broadcasters are coping with the transition. It's a big endeavour, and with less than 10% of Canadian households still using antennas to get their television service, it's difficult to justify the cost (in the neighbourhood of $1 million per transmitter, but varying widely) of replacing the analog with digital.
That's to say nothing about the consumers, many of whom are on the lower end of the income scale, who must now spend money on new equipment.
The sidebar focuses on consumers, and tries to explain how people can prepare. If you haven't already heard 1,000 times, cable and satellite subscribers are unaffected. If you get your service by antenna, you either need a TV with a digital ATSC tuner (most new HDTVs have one) or a digital converter box.
My editor was very generous with the assigned length (in all it clocks in at a bit under 2,000 words), but even then there's a lot of information I had to leave out, including a few conversations I had with actual TV viewers. I'll try to include most of that information here.
The digital transition in Montreal
First, here's how the digital transition is going for the nine television stations broadcasting in Montreal (updated 9am Sept. 1):
- Five (CFCF/CTV, CFTM/TVA, CIVM/Télé-Québec, CFJP/V and CJNT/Metro 14) have completed the transition, switching off their analog transmitters and replacing them with digital ones that are now transmitting. They should all be at full power from their permanent antennas.
- Three (CBMT/CBC, CBFT/Radio-Canada,CKMI-1/Global) have shut down their analog transmitters and have digital ones operating on their permanent assigned channels, but are not yet operating from what will be their permanent antenna on top of the Mount Royal tower. (CBMT and CBFT are also running at reduced power.) Those who don't get these signals now may see that improve over the coming weeks.
- One (CFTU/Canal Savoir) has been given a two-month extension to make the transition. It is still broadcasting in analog until the digital transmitter begins running.