THE END(S) OF ANALOGUE: ACCESS TO CBC/RADIO-CANADA TELEVISION PROGRAMMING IN AN ERA OF DIGITAL DELIVERY

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Dear Minister Joly,

If of interest, my dissertation is available here.

Cheers,

Steven

 

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Canada’s 600 MHz DTV transition: 238 analogue OTA TV transmitters slated for transition to digital OTA TV

Dear Minister Joly,

Long time! Did you get to meet Bono at the Canada Day 150 celebrations?

Now that Minister Bains at ISED has announced Canada’s 600 MHz DTV transition plan, I’m particularly interested in the 238 analogue OTA (NTSC) TV transmitters slated to transition to digital OTA TV between 2019 and 2022 (for a handy list of the analogue transmitters see this link: Analogue OTA transmitter slated for transition to digital). Will these 238 analogue NTSC transmitters be switching to the ATSC 1.0 DTV standard or to the new ATSC 3.0 DTV standard? For an ATSC 3.0 DTV primer see this video.

Whether a Canadian television broadcaster is switching from digital OTA to digital OTA, or from analogue OTA to digital OTA, what is your plan in terms of informing the public of this change and of ensuring that households will maintain access to Canadian television?

Please advise,

Steven

 

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Digital Canada 150: ON or OFF? blog

Hello Minister Joly,

Click below for my Digital Canada 150 blog where I’ll be bloggin’ until at least Canada Day.

Steven

digitalcanada150onoroff

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Skinny Basic a boon for OTA?

Source: Bell.ca

Source: Bell.ca

Dear Minister Joly,

Congrats on the new gig.

Now that Phase I of the CRTC’s Skinny Basic is in place, I wonder if this just might be the break that (over-the-air) OTA TV in Canada has been waiting for.

While the Skinny Basic packages are fairly limited, particularly Bell’s offering, they do offer TV channels unavailable OTA that might interest Canadian television-viewing households. These non-OTA channels include The Weather Network, CPAC, AMI, APTN, TFO and others.

If such a package is appealing and worth $25 (plus other fees) to a household, and the only thing holding them back is the possible loss of their favourite sports programming or programming from American station(s), they may find out that the channels they are afraid of losing are available OTA (and always have been).

For example, some or all of the conventional U.S. stations such as CBS, ABC, NBC and PBS (plus others) are available with an antenna to many Canadians residing near the U.S. border (which includes most Canadians).

In terms of sports programming, television viewers may be satisfied with watching NHL games once a week OTA on Saturdays care of the Hockey Night in Canada feeds that Rogers offers via CBC-TV, City and OMNI.

Better yet, perhaps this regulatory TV shift will result in television viewers cancelling their traditional television subscriptions all together and instead opt to use the CRTC’s new signal tool to find local OTA TV stations.

Best,

Steven

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Godspeed You! TV User

Dear Minister Glover,

More Let’s Talk TV regulatory decision M&M’s were doled out today by CRTC Chairman Blais.

I’m a TV delivery/carriage guy, as you know, so while the day was more about TV content regs, Chairman Blais’ mention of Emperor did pique my interest.

I mused recently that if TV Content is King, then TV Delivery is Emperor.

Blais argued today that the Viewer is Emperor.

While it’s certainly true that citizens no longer need to wait for scheduled transmissions (outside of the Super Bowl and other events like it), TV delivery remains the most interesting and important aspect of TV regulation for me.

Also, if we’re going to talk about two-way interactive TV, we need to discuss active users with agency and not passive viewing audiences.

TV access is the hard part of TV regulation as far as I’m concerned.

The rest is housekeeping.  😉

Steven

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$5 Bucks, $5 Bucks, $5 Bucks!

pizza-hut-5

Image Source: simplyfrugal.ca

 *Update: Shortly after posting this, I noticed that Bell Mobile TV is now $5 for 5 hours of TV/month instead of the 10 hours per month that was included up until a week or two ago.

*Update: Bell has advised that the rate change was effective Jan 15/15.

Dear Minister Glover,

Pizza is not TV but neither is footwear so here goes.

As you know, Bell Mobility Inc./BCE is none too pleased that the CRTC ruled in favour of the assertion made by Ben Klass that Bell’s $5 Bucks! Bell Mobile TV special (not pictured above) allowing Canadians to watch 10 hours of TV per month (AKA: roughly 2.5 lousy Leafs games….which doesn’t seem like much TV per month to me),”confers an undue preference”.

Bell has filed a motion with the Federal Court of Appeal for leave to appeal the decision. While we all wait to find out if the court will hear the motion, I have a possible solution.

Why doesn’t Bell instead just expand its $5 Bucks Bell Mobile TV deal to cover any TV content? Would this move not please Ben, Bell and the CRTC? Pay $5/month and eat your 10 hours of pizza!

“That’s too hard, Steven!”, you might say. “How will Bell ever figure out how to let a user  watch CTV TWO, CBC/Radio-Canada, TSN, PBS, Netflix, TVA, NFB/ONF, CPAC or any other “TV” channel in the world and then sort out all the rights and turn a profit in the process?” you might continue to say.

My (unhelpful) answer to such a reply is that I watch over-the-air TV on this mobile TV (at a loss to Bell, Shaw, Rogers, CBC and others, we’re told) and that I don’t regard cable TV, satellite TV, IPTV, or Bell Mobile TV as TV “broadcasting” even though the CRTC does.

Best,

Steven

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Magic Items

magic

Analogue OTA TV transmitter towers and the Celica Supra last summer in Powassan, Ontario. All three are still operational.

Dear Minister Glover,

There were a series of important TV announcements in London, Ontario this morning.

Of particular note to this here blog was mention of the future status of OTA TV in Canada.

CRTC Chairman Blais can take it from here (the magic items he’s describing to the crowd are OTA TV antennas):

“I have with me today some special items. You could call them magic items. After all, they can make television service bills disappear into thin air.

What’s more, when you install them in your home or on your roof here in downtown London, they can give you access to eight Canadian television signals with a picture quality superior to anything delivered by a satellite or cable provider. Channels that show all the best local and national information, American entertainment and educational programming – for the low monthly rate of zero dollars.

Across Canada, 76% of the population has access to at least five channels thanks to these items, and in some cities that number rises to 15 or more.

What are these ingenious devices?

Digital television antennas such as these bring OTA television signals into our homes at a cost that beats even the best packages offered by the major service providers. But let me say that our decision is not about just affordability. It is about the importance of local and regional news and information programming.

It’s natural in an era of such fundamental change that old-style technologies get left behind. As we increasingly look to new television delivery models, we must be mindful not to forget about the essential public service provided by over-the-air television, the critical connection it forges with audiences. We should also keep in mind that 97% of Canadians live within range of a transmitter.

During our consultations, we had proposed that local stations be allowed to shut down their transmitters. Canadians reacted and told us that the time had not yet come. Ninety-five percent of participants told us that access to OTA stations is of great importance. This is not surprising when you consider that over 40% of viewing between 7 and 11 p.m. in the English-language market and over 50% in the French-language market is to local television stations.

What’s more, news programming aired by local stations boasts a 40% viewing share. And the vast majority of Canadians that responded to our public opinion survey considered local news to be important. While these statistics do not make a distinction between content watched over-the-air or through a cable or satellite company, they show us that Canadians rely on the television stations in their communities.

Holding a licence to operate a local television station comes with certain privileges. For example, cable and satellite companies must include the station in their basic package of channels and stations can request simultaneous substitution. Our decision sends a strong message to anyone thinking of shutting down their transmitters that, in doing so, they would be forfeiting these privileges. Canadians don’t want to start paying for free TV. And we heard you.

One might argue that OTA is a relic. Certainly, it harkens back to the early 1950s when rabbit ears stood atop unwieldy floor-model televisions. Yet much has changed about OTA as a broadcasting medium, including a wholesale transition three years ago to digital service. The next few years could yield renewed interest for OTA broadcasting, especially in urban areas where eye-popping image quality, channel selection and, of course, the absence of cost, could convince more consumers that they need not be enslaved to cable and satellite service providers if they want to enjoy high-quality television programming.

Long term, however, the format must change. The future of television lies more toward viewer-centric, on-demand models than the scheduled broadcasts such as those provided by OTA.”

– London, Ontario
January 29, 2015

Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

Check against delivery

(Source: crtc.gc.ca)

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