UPDATE: More work will shut down transmitters from July 16 to 19, and July 21 to 25, and July 28-Aug. 1. See below.
If you tuned in to FM radio at 4am on Monday and noticed that your favourite Montreal station is either noisy or missing completely, it wasn’t your imagination. CBC is doing work on the Mount Royal antenna tower and that has forced overnight shutdown of transmitting antennas on the city’s busiest transmission tower.
Stations were notified that the tower would be interrupting transmitters from 12am to 5am on July 7 and 8, though as far as I can tell only CKUT at McGill passed that message along to listeners.
FM stations transmitting from this tower are:
- CBME-FM 88.5 (CBC Radio One)
- CISM-FM 89.3 (Université de Montréal)
- CKUT-FM 90.3 (Radio McGill)
- CIRA-FM 91.3 (Radio Ville-Marie)
- CKBE-FM 92.5 (The Beat)
- CBM-FM 93.5 (CBC Radio Two)
- CKMF-FM 94.3 (NRJ)
- CJFM-FM 95.9 (Virgin Radio)
- CHOM-FM 97.7
- CHMP-FM 98.5
- CJPX-FM 99.5 (Radio Classique)
- CBFX-FM 100.7 (Espace musique)
- CFGL-FM 105.7 (Rythme FM)
- CITE-FM 107.3 (Rouge FM)
The main exception to this list is CKOI 96.9, which broadcasts from the CIBC building at the corner of Peel St. and René-Lévesque Blvd. Others are Mike FM, CKIN-FM and Radio X (CKLX), which broadcast from a Bell tower nearby, CIBL 101.5 and CHAA 103.3, which broadcast from Olympic Stadium, and CINQ Radio Centre-Ville, which broadcasts from St-Denis St. and Rosemont Blvd.
And TV stations transmitting from here are:
- CBFT-DT (Radio-Canada)
- CBMT-DT (CBC)
- CFTM-DT (TVA)
- CFCF-DT (CTV)
- CFJP-DT (V)
- CKMI-DT-1 (Global)
(Télé-Québec broadcasts from Olympic Stadium, City broadcasts from a small mast on a building next to the CBC tower, ICI broadcasts from the Bell tower on the other side of Remembrance Rd., and Canal Savoir broadcasts from inside the tower at Université de Montréal.)
But not all of these stations went off the air. As Martin Marcotte, director of CBC transmission, explains, many commercial stations have off-site standby facilities that take over when the main tower is shut down. So while they may have been at reduced power and definitely at a lower height and with reduced coverage, they were still on the air.
I listened in at 4am on July 7 from a place that, like much of the city, has an unobstructed view of the tower. I picked up all the stations except for CKUT, CHOM and CJFM (Virgin Radio). A fourth, CISM, had a signal but no audio.
On the TV side, my cheap antenna failed to pick up CFTM (TVA), CFCF (CTV) and CKMI (Global), but received the other stations.
UPDATE: More work will again require the shutdown of the Mount Royal tower on three nights: July 16-17, July 17-18 and July 18-19. And further shutdowns are happening the week of July 21-25.
And work continues from July 28 to Aug. 1. The first two nights will involve work on top of the upper platform from 12:10am to 5:30am on July 28 and from 1:10am to 5:30am on July 29, which will require shutting down all transmitters.
For Wednesday July 30 to Friday Aug. 1, the work will take place below the upper platform, so the TV transmitters and major commercial FM stations will stay running but some FM transmitters lower on the tower will be shut off, specifically:
- CBME-FM 88.5 (CBC Radio One)*
- CBM-FM 93.5 (CBC Radio Two)*
- CBFX-FM 100.7 (ICI Musique)*
- CIRA-FM 91.3 (Radio Ville-Marie)
- CISM-FM 89.3 (Université de Montréal)
- CKUT-FM 90.3 (McGill)
The CBC transmitters (marked with a *) will remain on the air operating at reduced power from an alternate site.
Microwave to improve live hits
The work being done on the tower is installing a microwave receiver on the underside of the upper platform, which houses the TV antennas. “Given their location, most of the FM stations and TV stations are affected by this work as the tower workers must be protected from high RF (radio-frequency) levels,” Marcotte explained.
Because it’s the highest point on the island and has a lot of transmitters each putting out tens or even hundreds of thousands of watts of power, the Mount Royal antenna tower is a very dangerous place when those transmitters are running at full power. Anyone inside the tower risks getting severely burned by all the energy. (Thankfully, because RF energy goes down exponentially with distance, people near the tower on the ground are not in danger.)
The microwave receiver will make it easier for CBC and Radio-Canada to set up microwave links with remote trucks that follow TV journalists to events. These microwave links require a line-of-sight link between the truck’s antenna and the receiver, which is why you see those trucks use telescopic masts to put their antennas as high as possible. Having a receiver on top of the CBC building downtown is nice, but having it on top of the Mount Royal tower where it can see the entire island is much better.
For the stations that do get knocked off the air as a result of this work, there’s a rare opportunity for radio listeners to see what else is on those frequencies or ones immediately adjacent. Getting CHOM off the air would allow some people to more easily capture the signal of WTNN 97.5 Eagle Country in Bristol, Vt. or CHMS-FM 97.7 in Bancroft, Ont. Losing CJFM opens up CKAV 95.7 in Ottawa, or WDOT-FM 95.7 in Danville, Vt. or WVLF-FM 96.1 in Norwood, N.Y. or CBF-FM-11 96.1 in Asbestos, Que.
But it means staying up late on a worknight.
For those of you who just want to hear your favourite FM and TV stations, their cable and Internet feeds are unaffected and will continue as normal.
How can we find out about these maintenance schedules beforehand? It’s annoying to have your signal suddenly cut when you are watching TV.
The broadcasters are notified of the interruptions, but it’s up to them to pass it on to their audience. CKUT posted it to its website, otherwise we probably wouldn’t have known until it happened.
The stations are notorious about not announcing.
There was all that work, before the div changeover, with no real website announcement. CTV might announce as the late news ended, but if it was common, I’d have already tuned out when the sports came on.
CJAD seems to announce, but not if they are in replay mode. I don’t listen to other radio stations enough to know what happens.
With TV, I guess their excuse is that over the air doesn’t count, but would confuse the people who don’t lose the signal since they have cable or satellite.
I think this is ongoing, I’m sure I’ve come across some recent TV outages overnight.
This is the time of year when I heard a Mississippi FM station one hot morning about when I got up. Depending on when the local transmitters go back on, this may be more than hearing near stations.
You forgot CKLX-FM 91.9 in your list, it broadcasts from the same Bell tower as Mike FM and CKIN-FM.
When the tv stations were shut down, I finally was able to watch a perfect picture from ABC WVNY transmitting on channel 13. WFFF FOX 44 also had a perfect picture that night. Wasn’t CFCF supposed to move to 51 ? If they did it would eliminate reception problems with ABC. This report fails to mention anything about people watch tv over-the-air. Most of the well known over-the-air reception problems with ABC and FOX are attributable to interference from Mount Royal and the power shut down has proven that.
No. Channel 51 was for the temporary digital transmitter while the analog one was still running. The digital transmitter moved to Channel 12, and back on the Mount Royal tower, after the analog transmitter was shut down.
Industry Canada has put a moratorium on the use of Channel 51 to avoid interference with new wireless broadband frequencies.
It’s unfortunate that there’s adjacent-channel interference preventing some U.S. stations from being well received here, but simply put there is no protection for those stations in Canada.
One thing I forgot to mention is the annoying CBC transmitting on 21.1 when they knew beforehand that 22.1 and 22.2 were occupied by WCAX CBS and that they WOULD cause adjacent channel interference.
Perhaps the brain trust over at CBC/SRC will finally figure out how to use sub-channels and use only RF 19 and abandon RF 21.
2.1 – SRC (720p)
2.2 – CBC (720p)
Perhaps they need more money cut from their budget in order to see clearer.
The policy of not protecting the U.S stations being received here is a form of coercion that directly benefits the cable and satellite companies and hurts the consumer. Add to this the fact that there is no advertising of the reality that there are tv signals available freely over the air and that the general public is being deliberately kept in the dark. These actions force people into the clutches of these price goughing conglomerates. I’ve had both cable and satellite before so I know firsthand how these services force people to buy bundles of mostly useless channels just to have the one or two that you really want. There is no protection and education here for the consumer. Many customers to my store are stunned over the picture quality of the Sony in the store and don’t know what an antenna is ! The NAB in the U.S. has stated that there are almost 60 million people relying on over the air antenna for their tv watching. The problem here is that there is suppression of the truth with regards to FREE TV.
I do believe you’re right in stating that the public is being left in the dark about broadcast signals available to them for free. But at the sometime, those that want to know find out.
There is an entire generation out there that has no understanding of what is a TV, FM or AM antenna is and how they work. They grew up with Cable subscriptions in the home, and then migrated to internet based subscriptions. Internet subscription in the sense that they are being hit with download limit fees so that they can watch a movie. TV show, or sports event or whatever. Another form of wire straight to their pockets.
I would even accuse the CBC’s current direction as being that since they want to concentrate on mobile and internet services, and cut back on free access OTA TV and Radio. Sure people like their mobile devices. But they don’t like their crazy mobile bills. You telling me that you can’t get a FM tuner in a mobile device to receive CBC Radio 1 & 2 for free. You telling me that you can’t use the current ATSC system to broadcast a mobile free signal. If you are, take a look at this on Wikipedia.
Go down to the Digital TV part of the article, and notice a small sentence under the box outlining what is being broadcast on 6.1 Interesting isn’t it. When was the last time you heard the CBC advertise that on CBMT! But, they won’t fail to let you know that their local late night news is being streamed online due to a sports event running long. I guess it’s to difficult for them to place the news on a sub-channel on 6.2 even in 480p. No, they suggest you stop watching your TV, get on your computer, or mobile device and stream the local news while you clock up your data download counter. Thanks CBC. Free over the air, or getting an extra charge on your internet bill or mobile device bill.
You know what’s funny about all of this, the current Bell Fibe ads advertise that your TV can be placed anywhere. Well I got news for you, I temporarily placed a small indoor antenna outside on my back porch, and connected a small TV. And guess what, I got to watch some World Cup games, and even some Stanley Cup games, while drinking a beer, and enjoying the outdoors. For Free. How about that!
ABC 22 was originally offered channel 16 by the FCC when the switch to digital was made but they refused it. If they had accepted there would have been no
no issues with reception. Their choice was strictly a monetary one as ABC and FOX have the same owner and their two channels are the weakest on Mount Mansfield. The channel allocations were poorly thought out when the digital switchover came as cross-border reception wasn’t taken into consideration. No doubt they receive our signals there as well. As for FOX reception here, it was a surprise to me when the tower shut down that I could receive them so well. I was under the impression that they were directing their signal to the South and West. The July 7th shut-down proved that there is something else at play here.
Since WVNY & WFFF are being managed by the same people, I would think that shutting down one of their transmitters would make sense since they can place FOX & ABC both in HD on one.
44.1 – FOX
44.2 – ABC
WFFF is currently running at about 47kw and WVNY at 10kw. Combine that onto RF 43 (virtual 44) to 57kw and I would think everybody benefits.
I don’t think that companies like Bell or BCE should own tv stations or networks, it’s ethically wrong. They have TOO much control now, they decide what goes out free over the air and what goes through their cables. They now control production and distribution. The television networks and broadcasters should be independent oc the cable and satellite companies. Many channels that are on these services could be broadcast freely over the air. As for ABC and FOX here, they operate on a welfare budget. The FOX station in Buffalo New York is operated under different management and puts out 1000kw.
The general public don’t know about OTA because newspapers like the Gazette don’t print any articles on the subject. Companies like Shaw, Videotron, and Bell advertise in the Gazette and would prefer that people remain ignorant about antennas. They don’t want the public to be educated as that would jepordize their monopolies.
The Gazette had a very large feature on the subject when the digital TV transition happened. As did other newspapers.
I get the Gazette daily and don’t remember that. I have sent in several letters on the subject in response to other reader’s letters or on articles about pay tv telling about the virtues of OTA and those letters were never printed. I don’t see them printing any letters from anyone using an antenna giving their point of view and experience with OTA.
The Gazette story is no longer online, but I reference it here.
But when the border stations turned off analog in mid-Feb 2009, virtually nothing was said. There was some passing reference, and it implied reception wouldn’t be likely, in the Gazette.
Yes I suppose it’s not something to repeat, but six years after the US went to dtv, and three years after Canada switched over, the topic is dead. Yes, those of us who use antennas are set, but where does it leave anyone else?
It’s bad enough that anytime there was talk of old CFCF radio changing format or closing down people would worry about what would happen to “Coast to Coast”, when you can get it up and down the dial. Now we have people thinking VPR is hogging “our valuable frequencies”. That’s a very insular view, and likely many do think they have no option other than cable or satellite.
In other news, I see VPR is now campaigning to get FM activated on smartphones. They say the hardware is there (though not specific about whether it is dedicated FM radio hardware or that the cellphone hardware is software defined). That’s one way to get people back to radio, though not CJLO since the hardware doesn’t seem to tune the AM broadcast band.
I remember the Gazette running OTA articles.
But, their TV listings are all based on old analog references. All OTA channels do not indicate a .1, and the US channels do not have the .2, .3 and so on of their sub-channels.
But worst of all CKMI (15.1) is still listed as 46. They have not been on 46 since they went digital. And CFHD (47.1) is not listed at all.
Yes, I remember that story now, I have read other such stories from other sources but most of these cord-cutting reports are from Ontario where they have access to more over-the-channels than we do here. At my home and my store the channel count is 19. In the South Shore that can jump from 27 to 30 channels depending on wether or not you want the Sherbrooke channels wich run duplicate programming of what is available here. In Toronto there are about 36 channels available free including OMNI and CTV TWO which are NOT available here. In Windsor the number jumps to about 53 channels thanks in large part to the close proximity to Detroit. In the United States the number of channels available is in the dozens. Places like Baltimore Maryland and San Francisco California, there are approximately 100 channels available with an antenna. One person in Orange County on YouTube reports 120 channels with his Winegard antenna. The number of available channels is small compared with our cousins to the South. Here in Quebec, articles on OTA TV like the one mentioned above are few and there are many people unaware of OTA. People come into my store see the picture on my 40″ Sony 1080P Bravia, are stunned and then have blank looks when I say “Antenna”. Then they ask if it is “Legal” when I tell them it’s free. That’s the reality I see every day here in Montreal. There’s not enough advertising or installers selling people on the advantages of OTA TV.
The number of channels in the US is in part the effects of it being very easy for licensed stations to add sub-channels without major reviews or drawn out application processes. As a result, in many places the OTA channels have usually 2 regular def channels besides their original channel. That means you end up with 3 times the programming OTA without huge increases in transmission costs.
There is also thriving channels in many markets which are either not affiliated to any network, running syndicated programming, or that are affiliated to smaller networks that only have a certain number of hours of programming each day. You can look example at Los Angeles:
look at both the high power and low power, you can add los angeles and a few other station in the area, plus the mexican border stations, the San Diego stations, etc if you have a reasonable antenna. So you are looking a ton of OTA stations.
Unless the licensing system and approval system from the CRTC and Industry Canada changes, it’s unlikely you will see the same in Canada. Every new station in a market, even as a sub-channel, still requires a full application and full permit, licensed as a seperate entity. So you effectively have almost no sub-channel activity in Canada, the only one noted in a non-profit community channel setup in Ontario.
That doesn’t prevent the establishment of new subchannels, of course, which could be established as part of an existing station’s licence.
Incorrect Steve. On the purely TECHNICAL side, yes it would be part of the existing Industry Canada approved transmitter site. That isn’t very important.
What is important is that each new service would require a licensing process.
What does that mean? If a channel like ICI has negotiated a sub-channel deal instead of putting up their own transmitter, the station application would still require the same process that they went through to get on the air.
if an independent company wants to open an over the air mostly syndicated programming channel in Montreal using a sub-channel from the current ICI transmitter, they would be required to go through a licensing process like any other new OTA channel would be subject to.
Having the transmitter and the technical ability to have sub-channels does not make the CRTC go away. The only example they have approved to date in all of Canada is a community non-profit channel adding narrowly specific non-profit channels.
There is not a single commercial example, for all sorts of reasons. However, the requirement that a new commercial station (no matter how it is transmitted) would have to go through the CRTC approval process certainly limits the ability for anyone to enter the marketplace (any marketplace in Canada).
Technical ability to produce sub-channels does not waive the CRTCs position on new commercial entities in a marketplace.
On what policy are you basing this assertion? I have no reason to believe that the CRTC has banned the addition of subchannels through licence amendments, and in fact the two cases of their use I know of have been done exactly in that way.
Sure it does. But the alternative is having unlicensed use of airwaves.
“On what policy are you basing this assertion? I have no reason to believe that the CRTC has banned the addition of subchannels through licence amendments, ”
You don’t get it, do you? I said “On the purely TECHNICAL side, yes it would be part of the existing Industry Canada approved transmitter site. That isn’t very important.” – that is to say that there is no specific policy against it ON THE PURELY TECHNICAL SIDE.
However, if ICI had negotiated a sub-carrier agreement, they would still have to make the normal application for a new station, with the technical details pointing to the main channel. They would not just be able to create the channel through a minor amendment of an existing license. It’s a new application that would need an entirely new application process.
So if CBC wants to add a sub-carrier (say CBC Nature Programming) as an example, they would have to apply for a license for that new channel as it would if it had it’s own transmitter, except that IC doesn’t have to rule on the transmitter details beyond approving perhaps an amendment for the original channel. The hang up would not be IC, it would not be the technical, it would be the CRTC.
Quite simple, you cannot put a new station on the air without permission from the CRTC, even if it is just a sub-carrier. The only cases in Canada right now are either non-commercial (community) stations or like was done with global to have the EXACT SAME PROGRAMMING in a different screen format for older TVs.
Do you have any commercial examples?
I’m not sure that’s the case since we don’t have any precedent on the matter. But if you’re sure, good for you. I obviously can’t convince you otherwise.
I’m not sure that’s the case since we don’t have any precedent on the matter. But if you’re sure, good for you. I obviously can’t convince you otherwise.
Come on Steve, not the blow off. Having a problem admitting that you missed it on this one? Perhaps you want to run a retraction or something?
Can you point to anything that suggests that sub-channel stations wouldn’t require a full CRTC application? All you pointed to so far was a few extra fields on a form, and not much else.
Is admitting that you may have missed it an issue for you?
this decision for one. And this one. But my point is simply that there’s not enough precedent on this matter to say definitively one way or the other. We certainly can’t say that all multichannel DTV use must involve separate licenses for each channel since we have two counterexamples here.
Perhaps the CRTC will require such services to have separate licenses in the future. Perhaps not. Of course all that is beside the point. The major broadcasters have entire departments for regulatory affairs, and filing an application for a new service would be trivial, especially since there’s no technical component to it. The reason they choose not to is because there’s no business case for it. Conventional television doesn’t make money.
Yup, in the first casel they were applications to approve service. No LICENSE required because the transmitter was already licensed, but even adding an FM radio channel required CRTC review. Had the radio been a NEW service, it would likely have been a much more complicated process.
” After examining this application in light of applicable policies and regulations, the Commission considers that the issue that it must determine is whether the distribution of CHOZ-FM as part of the CJON-DT signal would be appropriate and not result in significant harm to other licensees.”
Clearly, no rubber stamp, but a consideration for other licensees as would be normal for this type of undertaking.
The second one is a perfect example, and the commission states very clearly (and thus resolves the discussion):
“Each multicast programming service will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will be licensed by the Commission separately from the main [digital television] service. A multicast service will generally be subject to the same Canadian content, logging and other regulatory requirements that apply to existing television services.”
There you go. The full answer, courtesy of the CRTC themselves. So now do you think you can agree that each new service will be licensed?
I should clarify that in the US, once the transmitter is approved, after that what you do with it within the technical regulations is up to you. Add 4 sub channels, whatever it is that you like, without any major regulatory oversight.
In Canada, the transmitter is approved by IC but you don’t get free reign. Each new channel requires a separate approval process for the CRTC.
Someone in the media needs to step-up and inform the public about Over-The-Air on a regular basis. There is a good site on the Internet explaining things by TRANS CANADA TV ANTENNA INC. but information like this should be on radio, tv and the newspapers. There must be thousands of households on tight budgets that would benefit from OTA if they were made aware of it.
The funny thing about antennas is that I watch more tv now than when I had satellite. I used to come home from work, flip through 300 channels watching a minute here and a minute there then it would be time to go to bed. So many channels and nothing on. Many channels carrying the same program, many useless channels. I finally settled on 10 channels out of the 300. That was costing upwards of $125 a month, money down the drain. Now, I watch whole programs that are available with the antenna. I miss the movie channels and the Mike Holmes renovation programs, but much of that is available on the internet.
A major problem with cable and satellite is that you continue to pay even though your tv is switched off. It’s a 24 hour a day service. People that are stuck with these services would benefit if they would pay only when their sets are switched on. A person might only watch 4 hours per day but is forced to pay for 24.
Go ahead and propose a cable TV service that charges by the hour, see how well that does.
Charging by the hour will never happen, I know. The big monopolies have too much control as I have stated before. Everything is so focused on corruption in the construction industry that the control that a few companies have on what we watch and how we watch it ( which I believe is another form of corruption) goes mostly unnoticed and unreported. What Dilbert has stated is true, we will never see that many channels here free on the airwaves. The cable/satellite mafia no doubt have are pulling the strings and have influence in government departments overseeing how the general public watches tv and listens to radio. There is no true “free enterprise” here in this country where there is so much manipulation. At Future Shop when you bought a tv there was a discount on a satellite receiver at that time it was called Starchoice.
Even today, look up the essentials package of Shaw Direct(formerly Starchoice), it costs $53 per month. In order to get the movies you have to subscribe to a package that costs $73 a month, a form of blackmail as far as I’m concerned. Add in the taxes and $100 a month is realized.
It will be interesting to see how the forthcoming NHL season will be handled by Rogers and TVA. Will there be games broadcasted ove the air and in what language? If TVA and City TV are carrying the games, will they preempt regular programming or will they add sub channels ? I read in the Gazette that more games will be made available over the air. Time will tell.
We already know the answer. CBC and City will carry NHL games on Saturday nights. City will air NHL games on Sunday nights. TVA will not air any NHL games on its conventional network.
If that is true, then the French are getting ripped off again. They will have to continue to pay to watch hockey games. They won’t be able to watch games in their language free over the air as before when the Saturday night games were broadcast in English only. They will have no incentive at getting an antenna. Talk about controlling people ! It’s exactly what I said, they control what you watch and HOW you watch it.
The situation is no different than it was last year. NHL games haven’t been broadcast over the air in French since 2004. And Saturday night games will still be broadcast in English on conventional television. In fact, this deal provides for *more* broadcasting on conventional TV with games on City on Saturday and Sunday nights.
IIRC, TVA broadcasted two Senators games in french on their OTA network, regionally. I think it was 1 game last season and the other game in 2012-2013.
A case in point, my nephew has moved to the South Shore and according to the TVFOOL report for his home there are about 30 OTA channels available. But, because he wants to watch the mid-week Canadiens games, he has become a slave to Videotron ! The mid-week games are available only in French and on cable, and the weekend games are available in English free over-the-air and he can’t watch those because he doesn’t have an antenna ! The situation is absurd, we get some games for free because we are english, but the french must pay for every game.
A person in Quebec who is French and who is passionate about hockey and the Montreal Canadiens cannot watch those games for free over the air in French because the powers that be, the cable/satellite mafia(Bell, Videotron,Rogers,Shaw Direct, Cogeco) with the assistance of the CRTC and Industry Canada have arranged it that way. This is a perfect example of people being controlled by the media. I’ve had this discussion with some of my francophone customers in the past, the CRTC and Industry Canada have allowed these companies too much freedom to do what they want at the expense of the consumer.
I watch only the weekend games via antenna and even get to watch the games televised by WPTZ on weekends. When the playoffs arrive, every game practically is available for free by antenna. My francphone neighbours can’t say that.
Shaw and Cogeco have no role in this situation. It’s not their choice what programming goes on what channel.
And the real reason why this is the case is because the rights to Canadiens games are upward of $1 million per game. You simply can’t make up that price with free TV.
Industry Canada doesn’t regulate content. As for the CRTC, what would you have them do? Forbid broadcasters from having NHL games on sports channels?
Early 2000s, canadian TV stations removed the channel number from their IDs : goodbye CFCF 12 (1-2 watch), then the calling letters disappeared, becoming “networkname cityoflicence”, then radio followed but kept their frequency number. That didn’t help OTA.
The CRTC decided in 2002 that “multicast” channels must be licenced seperately : http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2002/pb2002-31.htm
USA has 200+ designed markets areas. In the top 15-20 markets (NY, LA, Chicago, Philadelphia and Dallas being the Top 5) the big networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CW, MyNet) are O&O by the network, all other stations are affiliates and operated by other companies (Sunbeam, Gannet, Belo, Hearst, etc.). They also receive subscription revenues from cable and satellite operators, which is the cause of many problems such as Aereo and affiliation jumping to other stations.
Up north, Canada has only 43 markets (Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg being the Top 5 english). Almost all stations are O&O by the network, with a few exceptions (Pattison, Dougall). After planting one station per province (one for Atlantic, forget the Territories), they see the other stations from their Toronto headquarters and notice that this one is not making money and should shut down, cutting off many hours of local news. At least for Quebec, SRC, TVA and TQS allowed Radio-Nord and Inter-Rives to operate affiliates in Abitibi and Bas-du-Fleuve, otherwise, these small markets would have been fed Montreal news a long time ago.
Steve, you misread what I wrote. AS BEFORE no broadcasting of hockey games over the air in French. The technology is there now to have dedicated over the air sports channels in both languages. Industry Canada’s job is to screwup by encouraging adjacent channel interference like allowing the CBC to transmit on 21.1. I talked to one of their feeble brained representatives last year who could only provide a wishy washy answer so don’t go running to their defence! Also, broadcasters and sports channels shouldn’t be confused Steve. A “Broadcaster” is a station that “Broadcasts” signals over the air, not through cables. The cable and satellite companies take these broadcasted signals then re-distribute them through their cables or satellite frequencies. The unfortunate thing is that these conglomerates have bought “Broadcasters” and now control what goes out “Over The Air” or through cable and satellite frequencies or channels.
Also Steve, I don’t know if you have been following Quebec politics but francophones over the years have stated that the anglophone community here is rather privileged here compared to minorities in other provinces. Hockey games for free over the air in English only ! You have just cut off 80% of the population from access to free over the air hockey games in French ! Yes, and this atrocity has been going on since 2004. They should be bolstering OTA, not reducing it. If games were available in French over the air as in years gone by, that would hurt the bottom line of cable and satellite. I remember seeing hockey games on channels 2,6,10 and 12.
That’s what we need, some healthy competition that would benefit the consumer not the big monopolies. Have over the air programming available in English, French and any other language the population desires. Let the consumer decide wether to watch tv free over the air, or be gouged by one of the cable and satellite companies.
It’s not Industry Canada’s role to protect U.S. stations in Canada from such interference. You might not agree with that policy, but it is nevertheless the policy.
I’ll continue to use the definition of broadcaster as something that distributes programming to a wide audience, regardless of medium.
Blame TVA for that. It can air hockey games over the air if it wants to, but it chooses not to.
Actually, it would hurt the bottom line of TVA Sports, which Quebecor spent all that money to support. The number of people who would dump cable if French-language Saturday night hockey games were available over the air is, I’m guessing, quite low.
They’re deciding that now, no? Consumers can either get hockey games on cable or not. They have the freedom to choose.
“Broadcaster” and “Broadcasting” usually and originally refers to the distribution of radio and tv signals by electromagnetic radiation known as “radio waves”. This meant that a station would send out a signal “Over The Air” to be picked up by a receiving antenna some distance away. This is still true for tv as well as for C.B. and Amateur radio. TV stations used to shut down late at night then be back “On The Air” early the next morning. Before shutting down completely there was usually about 15 minutes of the Indian Head Test Pattern.
Terms like “Broadcaster” and “Broadcasting”, “On The Air”
and “Over The Air” were around long before anyone imagined cable or satellite.
Customers to my store asked me before if I was watching the hockey game on channel 33. Channel 33 for me is PBS Vermont sending out an original “Broadcast” signal. The line is being blurred here as cable and satellite are intermixed with broadcast. For the most part they tap into the “Broadcast” signal then re-distribute it through their systems.
It’s a shame that many people don’t know what an “Antenna” is.
Steve, are you a spokesman for Industry Canada by any chance ? Industry Canada’s policy of not protecting interference to other stations is shortsighted and stupid. From Quebec to British Columbia the heaviest concentration of Canada’s population is within a short distance from the American border. They have a substantial population on their side as well. That means CROSS-BORDER RECEPTION. We watch their channels while they watch ours.
Check the dictionary for the words broadcaster and broadcasting and they weren’t meant to be used the way YOU use them. Those terms were being used before you or I were born, before cable tv and before satellite and the internet.
As far as francophones switching to OTA being low , I have to DISAGREE with you again. The people I have met are dying to cut cable tv and they didn’t know about the current situation about OTA and true HD until I told them. They didn’t know about tvfool. com either. Drive outside Montreal and you will see plenty more rooftop antennas than here.
A francophone that doesn’t understand English can’t take advantage of OTA English broadcasted hockey games.
Someone at Industry Canada makes a brain dead decision and you swallow their policy hook, line, and sinker. The situation doesn’t change because there are too many people like you willing to be spoon fed nonsense and propaganda from Industry Canada.
To be clear, Industry Canada does protect stations from interference, but only within their authorized contours. So Montreal stations are protected here, but stations from adjacent markets like Burlington/Plattsburgh, Ottawa, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières are not protected in Montreal. Not allowing adjacent channels in adjacent markets might not be practical considering the number of stations and number of available channels.
I’m not arguing that there are no people who want to cut cable TV. I’m saying the number who base that decision solely on the availability of Saturday night hockey games over the air is pretty small.
What propaganda? Industry Canada isn’t making public comments about NHL broadcasting. It couldn’t care less.
I am a 78 year old Canadian journalist, widow, cancer patient, crime victim and blogger. TV is very important to me, for information, relaxation, so much. I depend on TV day and night. I receive many channels with rabbit ears and a converter, but there is always intereference where my picture and sound fall into jugsaw pieces and it takes a heavy toll on me. Can you give me any information about who is responsible for interefering with my TV reception? I have no tech ability. Is there anyone who could help?
It’s unlikely your reception is being interfered with, and more likely that your TV isn’t picking up the signal well enough. The easiest thing to do would be to move or replace your antenna, moving it higher or outdoors. The higher and less obstructed it is, the better it will pick up the signal of local TV stations.
Concerning the subject matter of the lack of OTA NHL games in French in this market, I don’t think it’s really a major issue. Some may think it is, but it really isn’t. Watching NHL games in English is not like watching a science documentary. It’s not complex. Just follow the puck.
Perhaps if more francophones watched the games in English over the air for free and not subscribed to RDS or TVA Sports, that would effect the french language broadcasters and start placing games on a french OTA station. But, if they continue paying the subscription fees, then nothing is going to change.
Also, don’t think that people aren’t setting up antennas for OTA. There is a lot of people still being left in the dark, but not all. I know of at least 4 places in the Montreal area that are selling OTA antennas, Raybel, Addison, Madison, Vi-Tesse. And that doesn’t even take into account people ordering antennas thru the internet. Things are changing. Not a fast and as load as we would like, but never the less changing. What is frustrating is the sense of silence that exists in most major media outlets.
And if anybody wants to look at some antennas, or look into some resources that might help them out, here is a list.
FCC Reception Maps. Just enter your Postal Code for results.
I was given a rather flimsy reason why the CBC moved from channel 20.1 to 21.1 from that Industry Canada rep. The answer was that at a CBC board meeting they just chose 21.1, something like throwing dice. When the CBC made that move, signal strength for channel 3 went down. It is typically 20 to 30 percent weaker than channel 5. PBS Vermont often comes in stronger with less power.
As for the available number of channels, they took away channels 70 to 83. All tv sets before were equipped to receive those channels as well as the antennas. If OTA demand gets bigger , maybe they would give some of that back. As for antennas, Channelmaster quality has gone down, the Antennacraft HBU series from 22 to 55 are antennas to consider for our market.
Actually it was Industry Canada that chose 21 as the post-transition channel. It’s listed in this 2008 DTV allocation plan.
They won’t. Channels 70 to 83 have already been re-allocated, and channels 52-69 as well. There is no demand for new OTA stations.
Some of the UHF channels were reallocated before CTV.)
The UHF channels were allocated, apparently with high optimism, because there were 70 channels, six megahertz wide each, 420 total. That was when nobody yet had much use for the frequencies. Ironically, the higher up in frequency the less the reach (and very less likely for distant reception due to good radio conditions) so they could have been reused, while VHF channels with greater reach could be reused less.
I don’t think when the UHF channels were allocated that anyone really knew where TV was going.
Then nobody wanted the UHF channels, if they could get a VHF channel.
In the US, the FCC introduced a rule that new TV sets include a UHF tuner, which meant no external converter.
But the optimism didn’t hold. There was never the demand for those 70 channels that had been envisioned. So some were allocated for cell phones, I think in the eighties. Maybe there was two waves of reallocation, I can’t remember.
I guess with dtv more channels were set aside, but I can’t remember.
VHF were supposed to get reallocated, but while the div move was to IHF, some oddly do remain on VHF.
Addison’s no longer sells quality antennas, gone are the glory days of antennas hanging from the ceiling. There were the Lindsay SC-2500 and the CC-3300. The 3300 was a huge VHF only antenna that someone in my neighbourhood is still using. The 2500 was a top-of-the-line all-band antenna I used once. The Lindsay company was bought over by Wade Antennas. Channelmaster was excellent quality back then but have gone downhill since. They have two good all band models that have been discontinued but still available at some places, the CM-3671 and the CM-3679. These models were made in the USA. All subsequent models are made in China.
Two good American brands are Winegard and Antennacraft. Then there is AntennasDirect that has some good reviews. Someone in the Montreal area on Amazon.com says he gets ABC 22 with his Antennacraft HBU44. It’s in the antenna reviews section. He doesn’t state what part of Montreal. For me ABC comes in when CFCF is off the air or in the mornings under unusual atmospheric conditions when all the signals are being boosted. Even FOX44 has a respectable signal under those conditions. ABC and FOX despite being designated as “Green Zone” by TV Fool for my house for the most part play hide and seek.
The two antennas I would recommend for Montreal for their gain and overall performance are the Winegard 7698P and the Antennacraft HBU55, both rated for channels 7 to 69.
I agree with Dilbert, American broadcasters have more free reign within regulations than we do here. Here in the banana republic there is too much oversight and red tape. Sub channels are common in the U.S. but not here. The only channel here using a sub- channel is Global and they waste it by carrying identical content in SD.
On my older analog sets HD and SD display the same with the exception of the infamous black bars top and bottom. My Channelmaster CM7000 takes care of that by stretching the picture. Otherwise over time those black bars will burn in the picture tube leaving a faint but visible line in the picture.
PBS Vermont now has two high definition channels along with the other two standard definition ones. I’m holding my breath for when we see sub-channels here with different content.
And these damn cuts will continue to wake me up two times a night until they’re done… I do the maintenance for some of these stations and receive alarms everytime something’s wrong.
That being said, great blog! I’ll check it out every now and then.
J.P. I think cable and satellite would prefer transmitter maintenance more often, perhaps shut down permanently. The other week a Bell salesperson was going door to door. She was trying to sell their package deal of the 3 services. I told her I use Bell only for the phones. As for tv I told her I get a better HD picture and for a much better price! I told her to look at my antenna, that’s what is called FREE tv, better picture-better price.
Last year it was a representative of the company I hate the most, Videotron. I gave him a piece of my mind about his company and he asked how many channels I was getting, 4 or 5 ? His eyebrows went up when I told him 19.
These companies haven’t hooked enough fish through regular advertising so now they go door to door
One way of promoting OTA was if someone with money and good management skills would open up a store with tv’s and antennas. He could have one or more sets hooked up to an outdoor antenna instead of what we usually see in stores, tv’s hooked up to blurry cable. He could also offer and charge for installation and perhaps buy airtime on radio about OTA.
A city employee painting lines in the street outside my store wasn’t aware of OTA as it is today and I informed him of tvfool.com. He saw the picture on the tv and was sold. He lived in the South Shore and new other people that would jump to OTA. The word is spreading and I inform as many people as I can by giving them the basics and the rest is up to them. Movement on OTA won’t happen if people are not informed.
Bell is really desperate for my money. Along with my telephone bill they sent me seperate advertising for the package deal on their three services. It would ONLY cost me about $64.95 for 3 months, then afterwards $89.95 per month. That of course doesn’t take into consideration the higher cost of additional channels for tv that would inevitably come. Thanks, but no thanks.
The cafe owner across the street switched from Bell satellite to Bell Fibe and said the picture was worse ! Of course he’s seen the tv in my store and his picture doesn’t compare.
However, if the number of OTA channels available here was like what is available in Los Angeles and other large American markets, then there would be serious competition for cable and satellite. They would be forced to lower prices to remain competitive and the consumer would benefit. Many people here would instantly “cut the cord” and “ditch the dish”.
No more channels from 52 to 69 ? Interesting though that antennas are still being sold and listed as for channels 2 to 69 and for channels 7 to 69.
Some stations can still operate at low power at those channels. And there’s not much of an incentive for manufacturers to redo their packaging or redesign their products to lessen that range.
How low is low power ? I know the maximum is 1000kw but what is the minimum.
These new 4K or 4000P tv’s on the market will have an effect on OTA as well as the paid services . Cable and satellite don’t provide true 1080P now, how are they supposed to provide 4000P ? As for OTA that’s probably going to mean requiring more bandwidth or fewer sub-channels if the keep the 6 MHz bandwidth they use now.
Last night with the CBC off the air, WCAX-CBS channel 3 which comes in with a usual signal strength of 40% was coming in at 74% ! That’s proof positive of what Adjacent Channel Interference can do. At my store where there is some blockage of the signal due to the apartment buildings, I don’t get channel 3 at all but I do get WPTZ-NBC channel 5 transmitting form the same tower. With channel 12 CFCF off the air as well, I was able to watch WVNY-ABC channel 22 at my home where http://www.tvfool.com says are “ideal conditions” for reception. This proves that cross-channel reception wasn’t taken into consideration when the channels were re-allocated and that a type of “embargo” on tv signals exists on both sides of the border.
The HD STACKER antenna from Denny’s Antennas in the U.S. is rated only out to channel 51. There is one at a house near my store. It’s an odd looking antenna that supposedly performs very well.
July 23 and still no TV in Montreal after midnight. So much for the jokes about Toronto rolling up it’s sidewalks after 6 P.M.
I don’t see what transmitter site maintenance has to do with nightlife culture. (Do people watch TV on sidewalks?)
If you roll up the sidewalks early, presumably everyone goes to sleep soon after.
Maintenance may be needed here, but it acts like nobody is up that late to matter.
When this happened back in 2011, the CBC was still airing movies most nights, I remember missing some I wanted to see. I seem to recall some other late night programming I wanted to watch but couldn’t.
Yes, we don’t count since we are the minority, but we are the ones affected by this, the interruptions and using the over the air reception. If we don’t count, they might as well not bother to do maintenance. The cable and satellite viewers don’t benefit from any of this.
More like this is the period when the fewest people are watching TV so the shutdown will have the least impact. Same with road construction or anything else that is purposefully scheduled to happen overnight.
To be clear, the maintenance is on the tower, not the TV antennas. The transmitters have to be shut down to protect the workers on the tower. If it wasn’t for safety concerns they would still be running overnight.
Only 2 games in French ? That’s few and far between. That could become a hot political issue if the separatists found out about it and it’s being done by their own people!
Anything that could benefit the general public like OTA is being kept in the dark. Many channels on satellite and cable could be broadcasted over the air with a true HD picture, not like what Bell is advertising recently. I challenged a Future Shop salesman to come to my store to see what an OTA HD picture looks like and he never came.
Some of my customers know about the OTA hockey games and the picture quality, but Videotron is like cigarettes-it’s tough to quit.
NHL games have not been available on conventional television in French for more than 10 years.
“NHL games have not been available on conventional television in French for more than 10 years”. Exactly, they have done a pretty good job of keeping people in the dark about OTA. It was easier in the past when OTA was analogue but that’s changed now that it’s gone digital with it’s superior picture quality and more channels. Apartment buildings used to have their own antennas and some still do. There is a relatively
new condo complex on Jarry near Langelier that has a few modern tv antennas on it’s roof.
People here generally don’t know that in California and in other states that 100 or more channels are available free over the air and that condos, apartment complexes and the population in general is installing antennas again
More channels could be made available here but the monopolies don’t want that and there is little political will and Industy Canada and the CRTC won’t come to the aid of the average consumer anytime soon. Hockey games over the air in French? It could happen again but nobody wants to rock the boat. Why are the Americans so proficient at sub-channels and we are still in the dark ages ? Nobody here wants to get off their behinds and do something about it.
What exactly would you have Industry Canada or the CBC do about this? They can’t force the creation of new broadcasters, and we already have a public broadcaster in both languages (and another if you include Télé-Québec).
For starters, they can have CTV and Global sold to private buisness away from Shaw and BCE. These cable and satellite giants should not be allowed to own broadcasters. There is a familiar pattern in this country where too few control too much, stifling competition. The newspapers, the grocery chains for example. They could copy the American model where there are companies like the Sinclair Broadcast Group which owns 165 stations in small and medium markets. The consumer benefits only where there is competition and not when there is over-regulation.
It’s unlikely the CRTC would have the power to do that, especially after already approving the acquisitions. It would also likely require reimbursing hundreds of millions of dollars of tangible benefits money spent on those acquisitions. And considering the financial states of over-the-air networks before they were acquired, it could mean one or more of them going bankrupt and shutting down.
The American model also charges cable and satellite subscribers for access to local over-the-air television stations, and results in blackouts during contract disputes. It’s not necessarily better.
You’re calling for more regulation and then complaining about over-regulation?
The CRTC never should have approved those acquisitions in the first place. The only regulation I’m concerned with is one in which Over-The-Air Broadcasters be owned independently from cable and satellite companies. Is there something wrong with your brain or can’t you see that a company that controls OTA which is free and that also owns cable and/or satellite is going to promote the latter two services at the detriment of OTA?
Where’s the competition in that? The cable-satellite mafia is holding the strings and the consumer will lose . These companies would like nothing better to see OTA go away and you support them and the inept decisions
of Industry Canada and the CRTC.
I don’t know anything about funding or financing private broadcasters, but putting OTA in the hands of consumer gouging cable and satellite is NOT the way to go. Those companies are out to make as much money as possible and providing programming free over-the-air leaves them in a conflict of interest.
OTA here in Canada is in relatively bad shape when compared to OTA in the United States. We have little to none sub-channels, the broadcasters aside from the CBC are owned by the same companies that run the paid services and out to gouge the consumer. Stores like Future shop and Best Buy sell no rooftop antennas and their staff are ignorant of broadcast tv. Their only incentive is sell you a tv with a satellite receiver at a discount. Stores that sell OTA equipment in the Montreal area are few and far between. Much of the antennas and related equipment must be bought on-line taking away the visual presence that used to exist in stores like Addison’s and Radio Shack.
The only OTA gear sold at stores today are the indoor antennas and there are no rooftop alternatives. Stores like The Source sells outdoor antennas on-line only has none on display in the store and the staff have little or no knowledge of antennas and over-the-air in general.
One customer to my store came to me for advice on antennas and is getting rid of his Bell Fibe which he says doesn’t compare to the OTA picture on display in my store. That runs contrary to the false advertising currently being run by Bell stating that they have the best HD picture.
In the CRTC website under Home Service TV Options, there’s no mention about Over-The-Air or rooftop antennas, only the Paid options. Is the CRTC in collusion with big business ? And what about their dance partner Industry Canada, are they in on it too ?
We focused so much on corruption in the construction that we overlooked apparent corruption in the TV industry. It looks like the cable-satellite mafia has partners in the government!
I don’t see what CRTC webpage you’re talking about. Nor do I think the commission is concerned with marketing specific broadcasting stations or telecom services.
Go to the CRTC homepage and in the search pane type in home tv service options. The next heading on the page is “A Variety of TV Service Technologies”. On their list of services, there’s no mention of tv service via antenna. There is a link at the bottom of the page referring to the digital transition of August 31, 2011. The page was modified 2014-03-21.
The CRTC does not have antennas on their “list”. The last time I checked OTA is a tv service and the original “wireless service”. This is a serious omission by the CRTC and by not including OTA, it certainly appears that they are promoting the paid services.
I was at The Source this morning picking up two splitter/combiners that are on a half price sale. The salesman starting telling me that Bell Fibe has better picture quality than OTA. I told him that was BS and challenged him to come to my store to see for himself. Needless to say, he’s not coming. The Source sells tv antennas but have none on display in their stores. Their salesmen must be getting a commission on selling the paid services along with the accompaying propaganda regarding picture quality.
The CRTC, Future Shop, The Source all pushing the paid services and not informing the public about OTA.
…and once again, the buttholes at CBC/SRC (They’re in charge of the tower) pulled the plug on Mount-Royal last night. 5 Minutes into the Jon Stewart finale. Nice going guys!
Is it just my imagination, or is there way more maintenance at this site since the DTV switch?
Strange that WPTZ/WCAX/PBS seem to have a much better “on-air” record even though Mt. Mansfield is also home to many transmitters.
There are only a handful of transmitters on Mount Mansfield, and they don’t all share the same tower. The Mount Royal antenna has almost every major FM transmitter in Montreal and the majority of its TV transmitters.
Not just last night but the night before as well. I couldn’t believe it! I could get the American OTA channels just fine but no Montreal stations, either English or French! I could not find any announcements about this anywhere except for Fagstein’s page for which I am very grateful. Also for the link to the recording of Jon Stewart’s last show last night that I had been waiting to see and could not! So thanks to you all for this information.
Yep! I missed that John Stewart finale- almost!
Luckily, here in the Chateauguay Valley, we pick up CTV on channel 8 Cornwall quite easily.
And NOW THAT F… CBC and CTV are shutting down their Montreal services EACH WEEKNIGHT! on a regular basis at 00:15 or so, I go over to Channel 8.
But it is still analog! A horrible picture, full of ghosts, etc! Wasn’t everyone supposed to go digital by 2012.
Are Analog TV sets still in existence? Mine went to the landfill five years ago!