Dear Minister Moore,
As you may know, I’m part of an ad hoc group of Canadian citizens, researchers and industry organizations concerned about the DTV transition.
We now have a fact sheet regarding the digital television transition.
If you could forward it to your friends that would be great!
Here it is in PDF form: DTV_fact_sheet_Finalweb
Also, the Twitter/Flickr/YouTube ad hoc hashtag is #DTV2011. Please RT!
p.s. Here’s the entire DTV Fact Sheet, in case you don’t want to download a PDF:
Basic Facts on
Canada’s transition to digital over-the-air TV:
On August 31, 2011:
- Broadcasters in 32 Canadian communities must shut down analog transmitters as part of a worldwide transition to digital over-the-air (OTA) TV. The CRTC has ruled that if broadcasters want to remain over the air in those places, they must upgrade to digital. In another 60 cities and towns, some broadcasters will upgrade transmitters to digital over the next several years.
- Viewers in these 92 communities who use rabbit ears or a rooftop antenna will still be able to tune in over the air with TVs that have a digital “ATSC” receiver or by connecting analog TVs to a digital converter that costs approximately $60. The OTA transition will not affect TVs hooked up to cable, fibre or satellite.
- Broadcasters will likely replace only one-tenth of all analog transmitters. Most of the rest will reach the end of their lifespan within two years, after which they will be shut down and over-the-air signals will no longer be available.
- Channels 52 to 69 will no longer be used for television broadcasting. The government is expected to auction off most of the frequencies for other uses, such as cell phones and wireless Internet.
- Hundreds of communities stand to lose freely accessible OTA TV.
- With the loss of channels 52 to 69, and therefore fewer channels on the dial, there will be fewer openings for new local TV services.
- The OTA transition will have the biggest impact on CBC/Radio-Canada, which has 662 analog transmitters, of which only 27 will be upgraded. The rest of the analog transmitters will be shut down over the next few years. On August 31, 2011, Canadians in 19 communities, including Saskatoon, London ON, and Victoria, will be among the first to lose access to CBC and Radio-Canada OTA signals. Analogs must be shut down on the deadline in those 19 communities and there’s no plan for CBC and/or Radio-Canada digital transmitters there.
- Ontario’s educational broadcaster TVO is planning to upgrade only 9 of its 120 transmitters, meaning Ontarians from Kingston to Peawanuck will lose free access to their provincial station after analog transmitters are shut down. By contrast, provincial broadcaster Télé-Québec is upgrading all of its 17 transmitters, and will be more accessible over the air in Quebec than Radio-Canada.
- Widespread confusion and a failure to leverage the potential of the digital transition are likely because plans for viewer education are weak. Broadcasters are required to advise their viewers of the changes beginning only in March 2011.
Digital OTA TV presents new opportunities…
- Because a digital transmitter can broadcast several channels on a single frequency, broadcasters could share resources to continue transmitting over the air (OTA) for a fraction of what it costs to maintain individual analog transmitters. It’s called multiplexing and it’s being done in the US, Europe and Australia.
- In communities where some or all broadcasters plan to stop over-the-air transmission, local authorities (municipalities, universities, First Nations councils, economic development agencies, existing community stations or media hubs) could take over transmitter sites and continue to broadcast free to residents.
- They could also use the digital transmitter and frequency to launch a community channel, offer free wireless Internet to residents, or – as mobile broadcasting becomes possible – send out weather and emergency information to Smart phones and similar devices.
- In large cities where frequencies are scarce, multiplexing could be used to increase the diversity of broadcasting; for example, new community and independent local channels could be launched by sharing a frequency with an existing broadcaster.
To realize this potential, Canada’s government should:
- Provide Canadians with accurate information about what is happening to OTA TV in their communities by co-ordinating a national education campaign involving industry, the CRTC and civil society organizations, and ensure information reaches people with disabilities, low-income Canadians and people with a first language other than English or French. The UK, US, France and Australia have such campaigns.
- Develop information to help local planning authorities preserve free-to-air services for residents and to offer innovative new local services.
- Improve the diversity and choice of broadcast TV channels by requiring broadcasters to multiplex their signals or give up underused spectrum.
- Provide infrastructure funding to public and educational broadcasters for media innovation, including upgrading analog equipment to digital and sharing equipment and frequencies with local initiatives.
- Save some spectrum in upcoming auctions for use by new players, including municipalities, small independent companies and community media hubs, to develop new initiatives.