The impact of Bell-CTV deal on free over-the-air Mobile TV in Canada

Dear Anthony Caruso and Todd Slivinskas,

While more than half the population of South Korea watch free over-the-air (OTA) television on their mobile devices, along with tens of millions across Asia, India, Africa and Latin America,  free OTA Mobile TV viewing is relatively unheard of in Canada.
In spite of the country’s long tradition of regulating both telecommunications and broadcasting, the availability of free OTA mobile TV continues to elude Canadians.

The recently announced Bell-CTV deal does not bode well for the future of free OTA Mobile TV in Canada. Why would a private media company offer free OTA Mobile TV rather than charge data plan fees, content fees and make their users watch ads for the same programming?

In light of the emerging Bell-CTV, Shaw-Global and Rogers-CityTV media landscape, audience-starved public broadcasters like CBC/Radio-Canada and TVO/TFO are  faced with a unique OTA Mobile TV opportunity. By offering free OTA Mobile TV signals to citizens, via ATSC Mobile TV technology, public broadcasters will be able to simultaneously increase their audiences and better serve the Canadian television-viewing public. While cost is certainly a barrier to providing free OTA Mobile TV in Canada, the onus is now on you as public broadcasters to do so.


Steven James May

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