Bell Media wants to shut down 28 more CTV transmitters

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.

Nova Scotia

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)

New Brunswick

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)

Ontario

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)

Manitoba

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)

Saskatchewan

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)

Alberta

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)

British Columbia

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.

Comments on the application are being accepted until April 24 and can be submitted online here. Note that all information you provide, including contact information, becomes part of the public record.

11 thoughts on “Bell Media wants to shut down 28 more CTV transmitters

  1. Eamon Hoey

    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.

    Reply
  2. c Piche

    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.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      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.

      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.

      Reply
  3. Dilbert

    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?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      The real question here is the effect of all of this on simsub. Will Bell have to give up simsub broadcasts to these people?

      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.

      Reply
  4. M.J.

    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)

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    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.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      The CRTC must loosen up the rules so that main stations can do multicasting.

      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.

      Reply
      1. Shawn Colley

        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…

        Reply
        1. Dilbert

          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.

          Reply

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