Télé-Québec fires up digital transmitter

Télé-Québec HD

Télé-Québec’s CIVM-DT Montreal transmitter went on the air Monday afternoon, according to some hard-core spotters, making it the latest station to join Montreal’s digital over-the-air broadcasting family.

The list is going to grow pretty quickly over the next couple of years as Canadian broadcasters will be forced to switch to digital in 2011. U.S. broadcasters have already started up digital operations to meet a deadline of next month, even though it looks like that deadline might get extended.

Television stations currently broadcasting in digital here (totally plagiarized from this list at Digital Home) are as follows:

  • Callsign: Station identifier as recognized by Industry Canada/CRTC and FCC. Digital transmitters have a -DT suffix.
  • Network: Programming the channel carries
  • Location: Primary location of station’s offices. Montreal stations transmit from Mount Royal, Burlington stations from the top of Mount Mansfield (just east of the city)
  • Analog #: Current analog channel
  • Digital #: Assigned digital channel. Digital TV supports remapping of channels, so they should appear under the analog number (i.e. even though it’s broadcasting on Channel 19, Radio-Canada should appear as Channel 2)
  • Subchannels: DTV supports having separate subchannels with different programming from the main (the main channel is high-definition, and subchannels standard-definition, unless otherwise noted).
Callsign Network Location Analog # Digital # Subchannels
CBFT Radio-Canada Montreal 2 19.1 None
WCAX CBS Burlington, Vt. 3 53.1* WCAXtra
WPTZ NBC Plattsburgh, N.Y. 5 14.1 Weather+
CBMT CBC Montreal 6 20.1 None
CIVM Télé-Québec Montreal** 17 27.1 None
WVNY ABC Burlington, Vt. 22 13.1 One subchannel
WETK PBS Burlington, Vt. 33 32.1 SD channel
CJFP TQS Montreal 35 42.1 None
WFFF FOX Burlington, Vt. 44 43.1 CW
WCFE PBS Plattsburgh, N.Y. 57 38.1 SD channel

*WCAX will switch from channel 53 to channel 22 (currently occupied by WVNY) after the analog shutdown.

**CIVM broadcasts from the top of the Olympic Stadium tower

Stations which haven’t started broadcasting yet:

Callsign Network Location Analog # Digital #
CFCF CTV Montreal 12 21*
CFTM TVA Montreal 10 59*
CFTU Canal Savoir Montreal 29 27
CJNT E! Montreal 62 69
CKMI Global Montreal 46 51

*CFCF-12 and CFTM-10 will move their digital signals to their former analog channels after the analog shutdown.

10 thoughts on “Télé-Québec fires up digital transmitter

  1. Marc

    It’s also worthwhile to note that all the stations will retain their channel numbers via virtual channels. When you tune your DTV to WCAX for instance, you’ll still go to channel 3, even though the actual signal will be on channel 22. This is done via a protocol called PSIP. So, for example, WCAX can continue to identify & brand itself as WCAX 3.

    Also, after the analog shutdown, CFCF and CFTM will move their digital signal to their former analog positions: 12 and 10 repectively.

    I know it’s a lot to swallow but it’s neat stuff.

  2. Mathieu


    Stupid question maybe, but how do you receive such channels ? I’m confused about Free-to-air and Over-the-air stuff. I get neither and I’d like to get in on the action :P


    1. Fagstein Post author

      If you have a television with an ATSC digital tuner, then you just hook up an antenna and go to the appropriate channel. If not, you’ll need a converter box.

  3. Beeg

    Any old antenna? From what I’ve read online, OTA HD signals typically produce better images than cable offerings, as they are less (or un-?) compressed. Would be interested in checking that out, though some of the local HD broadcasts (CBC local news comes to mind) are not exactly state of the art… Any word on Super Bowl simsub in Montreal, BTW? Might be a good excuse to try out an antenna.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      OTA HD signals are uncompressed, though I don’t think the difference is that noticeable.

      As for the Super Bowl, Digital Home has a national guide. In Montreal Bell TV will simsub the Super Bowl, whereas with Star Choice or Videotron it should be simsubbed in standard definition but not in high definition, assuming all the rules are followed properly.

      Of course, you can just hook up the antenna and watch it over the air from WPTZ.

  4. Mathieu

    I must not have the right kind of antenna. My cheapo on can’t even catch radiocan properly (pretty good, but certainly not hd!). My television is up to date. I’ll look into it I guess ? Should any antenna work?

    1. Fagstein Post author

      The type of antenna is no different than analog TV, but since CBFT is broadcasting on Channel 19, you’ll need a UHF antenna to receive it.

      Though with the power CBFT is putting out, a paper clip should be able to receive it pretty well.

      And with digital TV, you either have it or you don’t. If you’re seeing snow, you’re in analog mode.

  5. Morton Charad

    I have a digital converter and I can get the following channels with an indoor antenna:

    3 CBS Burlington
    5 NBC Plattsburgh
    33 PBS Vermont
    44 FOX Burlington
    57 PBS Plattsburgh

    For some unknown reason I cannot get channel 22 ABC Burlington.

    My question is why can’t I get channel 22?

    1. Duncan Hill

      The answer is simple. You should be using an outdoor antenna, first because WVNY (ABC) has a lower signal than the other channels, but secondly because an indoor antenna is not guaranteed to give you any kind of signal.

      You should think of it as a bonus that you can receive anything with your indoor one.


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