UPDATE: The CRTC has approved Bell Media’s request.
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.
Yes it is a reasonable proposal. Richard Stersburg when he was at CBC 15 + years ago proposed shutting down all of their towers. He maintained that between cable and satellitte 80% or > of CDNs already were not receiving CBC via over the air transmission. He proposed that anyone who did not subscibe to cable or satellitte would be provided with a satellittle dish free of charge so they could receive CBC. Richard was way ahead of the CRTC’s thinking. They denied CBC’s proposal.
The reason that 80% of Canadians do not receive over the air is because the over the air service in Canada stinks. In the US, broadcasters now include multiple HD offerings in their channel. Canada does not. Over the air thrives almost everywhere except Canada.
But in Canada this is of course to be expected because of the corrupt collusion between government and cable, satellite, CDN providers!
Thank you for your timely information. Kingston is serviced by Deseronto’s CTV transmitter and caries programig also from Global and CBC. It would be unfortunate to lose the capability. Yet I among others still view on air programing both US and Canadian stations.
The fair value argument is sale of the spectrum and cost to run a high output dedicated transmiter if that is indeed the case. However the CRTC would be wise to confirm viewership as so few transmitters remain. This I find it a little bit of a stretch that Bell media would not incorperate more low power simulcast transmiters at their own mobile towers in order to facilatate this cost effectivly.
They own the fiber optic network in Ontario too, with enough bandwith to carry to each connected landline tower anyway. I fully intend to use the link provided and leave a coment.
Considering the price of television transmitters, it’s hard to see how this could be cost effective, much less *more* cost-effective than the current setup.
The real question here is the effect of all of this on simsub. Will Bell have to give up simsub broadcasts to these people? Or is the CRTC allowing the “you have a transmitter in this province” as the standards?
Yes. Bell explicitly states it accepts that simultaneous substitution will no longer apply to viewers in the coverage areas of these transmitters who are not also covered by a remaining transmitter. That loss of revenue is part of the calculation.
Most of these transmitters, I’m not surprised about them being shut down, but I am surprised about Oil Springs and Deseronto, based on the populations they serve. The Oil Springs transmitter serves Sarnia, Lambton County and Chatham-Kent, and at least marginally Windsor, an area where a large number of viewers have outdoor antennas to pick up the Detroit stations, not just in rural areas but right in the towns and cities.
At the same time CTV might be in for a surprise when they lose simsub rights on the Detroit channels on cable throughout that region. (Conversely I do wonder what their long term plans are for CTV2; the Windsor and London CTV2 stations could easily be repurposed as regular CTV stations and serve basically the same areas CKCO-TV-3 currently does, plus more)
I agree. Close the CTV2 network and roll those stations into the main CTV network.
All these stations are not real stations. They’re analog re-transmitters of real stations. There is no real use for them. They were never converted from NTSC to ATSC 1.0, and ATSC 3.0 is just around the corner. Plus add the current re-pack which is currently happening, and you can see that Bell Media has the proper assessment to shut them down.
The only thing that I would suggest the CRTC do is force the main station to increase the power output of it’s OTA coverage for each re-transmitter shutdown. And if there is now room for that in their current RF channel, then move them to another RF that will allow it. That’s the point of a re-pack. In other words, if they are going to use the excuse that those re-transmitters are not the main station, then make sure your main station is offering a proper power output.
Example just in the Montreal area. CJNT-TV (62.1) is a main station. But it’s power output is only 4kw. CKMI-TV (15.1) is the main station yet it’s power output is only 8kw. Unacceptable. I know these two stations are not part of the current subject matter. But, there are plenty of stations across the country on that Bell Media list which are.
Also, The CRTC must start to allow stations to offer Multi-casting on main stations. Especially on none network owned stations. You can easily fit two HD signals on the current ATSC 1.0 per station. When ATSC 3.0 kicks in that can easily be doubled.
I know, and understand Bell Medias need to shutdown these old NTSC re-transmitters, and they should be allowed to do so. But, the CRTC must loosen up the rules so that main stations can do multicasting. Changes can’t only be one way.
Which rules should the CRTC loosen up? As far as I know every request for multicast on television transmitters that has been submitted has been accepted.
The CRTC deals with multicasting on a case-by-case basis, stating they would either require each subchannel be licensed seperately from the main subchannel (if it airs more than 2h of different programming per week), or a blanket license for multiple subchannels at once (as was the case with CFTV-DT being approved to air entirely different feeds on 34.1 to 34.4 upon converting to digital operations).
The real issue here is that very few broadcasters are even interested in multicasting, aside from the community television broadcaster CFTV-DT in Leamington, Ontario (southeast of Windsor) and some Global stations airing an SD simulcast of their HD feed on x.2…
I think when it comes to multicasting, the CRTC absolutely missed a huge chance to both better serve Canadians and to serve minority groups across the country. They could have mandated certain uses for sub channels at prices determined by the CRTC as a condition of license.
Reality? The whole “transmitter” ship really has sailed. With cable, satellite, IPTV, and other “direct to home” delivery methods, transmitters are no longer a primary method for programming delivery, nor are they a secondary or on down the line. From what i gather, about 10-15% of viewership is OTA for most channels.
There was a big run of “cord cutting” a few years back but in Canada at least, that number has sort of bogged down to a level of about 400,000 households. Those may be using OTA, but are much more likely to be using streaming and similar services.
Under the current circumstances in Canada, OTA exists almost exclusively as a justification for sim-sub programming on cable. If the CRTC just granted CTV, Global, and such the right to sim-sub without needing the towers, they would be all gone within a very short period of time.
sub-channels are a great technology that came too late.
Sorry, but what a joke. The transmitter for CTV in Niagara Falls, has cut its power, so that we can’t receive the ota signal. “saying they have little viewership, provide no original programming and are expensive to maintain.” How can we watch the channel, if we can’t receive the signal. I’ve switched to Global; is that what they want?
Yes, we’ve switched to Global too because there’s a tower near us (and also ctv even closer) but the news is not as relevant to us in the Oil Springs Chatham area.
So,, does this mean that everyone with an Antennae have to go to satelite !! Cant believe that this was done without any of us realizing what was happening. Tried Satelite for a while, but didnt like it.
First we lost CBC from London a couple of years ago. Now we lost CTV from Oil Springs bur with it we also lost Global at the same time. Now we can’t get any Canadian news worth watching. Cable is not available in Plympton Township as Eastlink has this as a protected area but does not provide cable service and their phone and internet service and cost are rediculous. About $150.00 for just phone and Internet.
You can’t get Global from Sarnia? ch. 35, 208kWs
A basic satellite subscription is only 25$ a month
Larger metro areas get broadcast TV. Smaller metro areas have fewer choices all around. The CRTC cops out by saying the internet provides access to this free TV (advertisement driven). However internet is not free, and low cost internet has bandwidth limitations which makes television viewing impractical. Also, increasingly you must be signed on through a provider, which means you are already paying for for your free TV.
In short, the CRTC cares less about financially challenged Canadians. Access to television is like access to jobs. Profitability renders the culture socially inept.
I live about an hour north of Kingston, Ontario and I’ve listened to CTV’s CJOH-TV-6 on channel 6 Deseronto which is also heard on 87.75 MHz on most FM radios. Note that 87.75 is/was used for analog VHF TV channel 6. This transmitter (CJOH-TV-6) is scheduled to be shut down on October 9, 2020 but checked 87.75 recently and I believe they had either powered down their signal or they decided to shutdown their transmitter earlier than scheduled. The last time I heard the CTV signal was in late 2019. Now I pick up nothing but static!
We live in Kirkland, Montreal, Quebec. Due to the high cost of the Fibe and satellite packages we opted to go with a digital antenna. We don’t need to pay huge dollar for packages with channels we don’t need. However the CTV signal is horrible, it glitches a lot where the other channels do not. We left Bell because of high costs and very poor customer service, Videotron too. I think it’s terrible that the options are so limited and to be held captive by these huge companies. Everybody should be able to have affordable tv channels, especially CTV. I hope they improve their digital signal. For what they charge consumers they should be able to figure out a way that works for everybody.
CTV Montreal has a decent signal. If it’s worse than other stations, it could be that your antenna isn’t tuned properly for VHF signals or isn’t VHF compatible. CTV Montreal and TVA are the only stations still on VHF in Montreal.
Thank you for your feedback. Our antenna is VHF compatible. We have to fiddle with it every now and again and the only station giving us problems is CTV.
Are you using an indoor antenna, attic or rooftop? What brand/model? Pre amp? Do you get tva (10.1) since they are also on vhf-hi. Thanks
It is a total shame that such a conglomerate like Bell (along with Rogers) can provide service but “ holds people hostage” by cutting out transmitters to areas which need that signal; have read some of other people’s comments and most tend to agree with my thinking; while we’re on the subject of telecommunications I have a better question- Y DO WE PAY THE HIGHEST CELLPHONE RATES IN THE WORLD; shutting down tv transmitters; what’s next cell towers because too many; come on conglomerate Corp; greed— Imight be Canadian but feel now like a Trump supporter
I agree. But Bell is a free enterprise. So what is shameful is the CRTC failure to act for small communities. I live in Belleville. The Deseronto analogue transmitter is/was horrible. I instead watched CBS out of Watertown. If the CRTC wants us getting our Covid advice from American news, good job. Free TV is for large urban Centers only. The CRTC argues that internet is the alternative, but this is not free except for CBC, as you need to pay subscriber fees for CTV and Global. Not to mention streaming on a small monthly quota is not practical. At leas Global and TVO care about the smaller communities for now. Unfortunately the CRTC sets a precedence.