A lot of people who rely on old-fashioned antennas to get their television service have noticed this summer that all the TV stations in Montreal disappear after midnight.
The reason is simple: The transmitters are being shut off for maintenance work.
For the past couple of months, workers have been busy replacing antennas and doing other work on the 50-year-old CBC transmission tower atop Mount Royal (just northwest of the Belvedere, at the mountain summit, in case you’ve never seen it before).
One of the main purposes of the maintenance is to replace antennas as television broadcasters make the switch to digital. An antenna that CFCF-12 has been using since it launched in 1961 has been replaced with a new one that will be used for digital transmission. The station even did a news piece on it (skip to the 8:40 mark). Though the station got approval today to operate a 10,600-Watt digital transmitter, it looks like it won’t be put into service until after the transition deadline of Aug. 31, 2011.
For safety reasons (we’re talking about transmission power in the hundreds of thousands of watts), all the transmitters have to be shut down while the maintenance takes place. To minimize disruption, this work is taking place overnight, when Mount Royal Park is closed and when TV viewing is at its lowest.