Two years after requesting to shut down more than 40 over-the-air retransmitters of CTV and CTV2 stations as part of its licence renewal, Bell Media has applied to the CRTC to shut down more than 28 more of them, saying they have little viewership, provide no original programming and are expensive to maintain.
The application published on Monday includes six transmitters Bell Media said it wanted to shut down in places like Swift Current and Flin Flon during the process to reconsider its licence renewal.
If this application is approved, Bell Media will have dropped from 126 transmitters for its CTV and CTV2 stations before 2016 to under 50.
“With the increased focus on the financing, production and distribution of programming content, signal distribution through a repeater network is becoming an increasingly lower priority and an outmoded business model as Canadians have other ways to access television programming,” Bell Media says in its application.
The shutdowns are being prompted by the federal government’s new DTV transition plan, which will require stations to change channels to free up spectrum that is being auctioned to wireless providers. Consistent with that plan, Bell plans for the shutdowns to occur mostly in 2021.
These are the transmitters Bell is proposing shutting down, along with their dates, their transmitter power (maximum ERP) and the population in their coverage area, according to Bell Media’s estimates.
Rebroadcasters of CJCH-DT Halifax and CJCB-TV Sydney (CTV Atlantic):
- CJCB-TV-3 Dingwall, 3 December 2021 (64W, 785 people)
- CJCH-TV-3 Valley Colchester County, 3 December 2021 (150W, 32,957 people)
- CJCH-TV-4 Bridgetown, 3 December 2021 (58W, 3,823 people)
Rebroadcasters of CKCW-DT Moncton and CKLT-DT Saint John (CTV Atlantic)
- CKAM-TV-3 Blackville, 3 December 2021 (88W, 2,884 people)
- CKAM-TV-4 Doaktown, 3 December 2021 (22W, 1,409 people)
- CKLT-TV-2 Boiestown, 3 December 2021 (24W, 904 people)
Rebroadcasters of CJOH-DT Ottawa (CTV):
- CJOH-TV-47 Pembroke, 2 May 2020 (492,000W, 75,388 people)
- CJOH-TV-6 Deseronto, 9 October 2020 (100,000W, 436,141 people)
Rebroadcaster of CKCO-DT Kitchener (CTV):
- CKCO-TV-3 Oil Springs, 2 May 2020 (846W, 293,703 people)
Rebroadcaster of CKNY-TV North Bay (CTV Northern Ontario):
- CKNY-TV-11 Huntsville, 9 October 2020 (325,000W, 174,627 people)
Rebroadcaster of CITO-TV Timmins (CTV Northern Ontario):
- CITO-TV-2 Kearns, 3 December 2021 (325,000W, 88,472 people)
Rebroadcasters of CKY-DT Winnipeg (CTV):
- CKYA-TV Fisher Branch, 16 July 2021 (62,000W, 15,759 people)
- CKYD-TV Dauphin, 16 July 2021 (140,000W, 30,897 people)
- CKYF-TV Flin Flon, 16 July 2021 (2,060W, 7,762 people)
- CKYP-TV The Pas, 16 July 2021 (2,130W, 9,996 people)
Rebroadcasters of CKCK-DT Regina (CTV):
- CKMC-TV Swift Current, 26 February 2021 (100,000W, 29,035 people)
- CKMJ-TV Marquis (Moose Jaw), 26 February 2021 (98,000W, 87,838 people)
Rebroadcasters of CFQC-DT Saskatoon (CTV):
- CFQC-TV-1 Stranraer, 26 February 2021 (100,000W, 36,546 people)
- CFQC-TV-2 North Battleford, 26 February 2021 (30,300W, 39,686 people)
Rebroadcasters of CFRN-DT Edmonton (CTV):
- CFRN-TV-3 WhiteCourt, 26 February 2021 (17,900W, 32,832 people)
- CFRN-TV-4 Ashmont, 26 February 2021 (26,650W, 23,673 people)
- CFRN-TV-5 Lac La Biche, 26 February 2021 (8,656W, 9,149 people)
- CFRN-TV-7 Lougheed, 26 February 2021 (21,000W, 9,752 people)
- CFRN-TV-12 Athabasca, 26 February 2021 (3,300W, 9,621 people)
- CFRN-TV-9 Slave Lake, 16 July 2021 (840W, 9,683 people)
Rebroadcasters of CFCN-DT Calgary, Alta. (CTV):
- CFCN-TV-15 Invermere, 26 February 2021 (10W, 4,843 people)
- CFCN-TV-9 Cranbrook, 26 February 2021 (446W, 43,765 people)
- CFCN-TV-10 Fernie, 26 February 2021 (23W, 6,568 people)
The application requires CRTC approval because it amends licences for stations these transmitters rebroadcast from. But the CRTC hasn’t been pushing the networks to keep retransmitters running. Instead, it’s more focused on preserving local stations with original programming.
UPDATE: The application drew six interventions from individuals during the open comment period. Bell’s reply was a single page, reiterating why it has taken the decision and adding this:
While we appreciate the concerns expressed by the intervenors, we would like to reiterate that the majority of these shutdowns will not occur before February 2021. Further, our Application is fully compliant with existing Commission policy.
UPDATE (July 30): The commission has approved the request, saying it can’t force Bell Media to keep operating the transmitters:
… licences such as those held by Bell Media are authorizations to broadcast, not obligations to do so. This mean that, while the Commission has the discretion to refuse to revoke broadcasting licences, even on application from a licensee, it cannot generally direct a licensee to continue to operate its transmitters.