cartt.ca article re-post: Cord-Cutting: Figuring out the OTA option isn’t easy

Hello Minister Moore,

Mr. @gregobr asked me to write a report on the status of OTA DTV signals in sample cities across Canada for cartt.ca.

Re-posting the article here, with permission.

Feel free to add info about the status of OTA DTV in your city in the comments!

———-

Cord-Cutting/Over-The-Top Video

Cord-Cutting: Figuring out the OTA option isn’t easy

June 22, 2011
By Steven James MayMP CHARLIE ANGUS WAS bang on when he dubbed Canada’s digital television transition a “hodgepodge” during a Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in March 2011. Trying to figure out if, when and where a particular over-the-air (OTA) television broadcaster will be going digital (or not) requires significant digging.

With just over two months to go before Canada’s digital television transition (70 days according to the Cartt.ca countdown clock), many viewers in cities such as Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto are already enjoying digital over-the-air (OTA) television. (For many, it is a viable, enjoyable, alternative to paying a TV subscription. In Toronto, for example, many digital OTA signals can be pulled in with a decent antenna.)

However, other OTA viewers are having to wait until the last day of the CRTC-mandated August 31, 2011 analog to digital switch-over date before they can watch (and prepare) for digital OTA signals. Then there are those viewers in non-mandatory television markets who will have to settle for continuing to receive analog OTA TV signals beyond the Aug 31 deadline, waiting indefinitely for digital OTA upgrades. Lastly, there are OTA television households that stand to lose OTA channels altogether if broadcasters in their community decide not to upgrade their transmitter(s) to digital and simply shut off their analog transmitters at the end of August.

Most of the DTV public service announcements that have been airing on television since May 2011 are vague and do not give specific community information, with TVO’s PSA being the lone exception.

While Canadian Heritage and most individual broadcasters have their own DTV transition web sites and toll free hotlines, it’s not easy to find out which OTA channels are going digital. For example, according to the Canadian Heritage DTV site, even if a city isn’t mentioned on the site “stations in areas not listed…may also decide to switch to digital over-the-air broadcasting”.

Viewers in unlisted cities then have to contact each broadcaster individually to find out what’s happening. Unfortunately, the broadcaster audience relations people often aren’t too sure what’s happening either, prompting them to Google information while viewers wait on hold. Furthermore, the information listed on the Canadian Heritage DTV site isn’t up to date, with CTV Winnipeg’s digital transition date (for example) being listed as “to be determined” even though it is already currently broadcasting in digital.

In order to help clear up some of this DTV confusion, Cartt.ca presents below the following summary of sample Canadian cities and their DTV status. In some cases, telephone interviews with engineers at various broadcasters were conducted in the hopes of bridging any information gaps.

There will be no digital OTA Radio-Canada television signals available in the city of Halifax once the current analog transmitter is shut off on August 31, 2011. CBC Halifax will be switching to digital by August 31 however, though no one contacted at CBC was certain of the exact date. Global Maritimes will be switching to digital sometime in July and CTV Atlantic will be doing a “hard cut” to digital on August 31/11.

In Montreal, TVA is switching to digital by August 31, 2011 and CTV Montreal is currently broadcasting in digital. Radio-Canada and CBC Montreal are already operational in digital with Télé-Québec and Canal Savoir are switching to digital on September 1, 2011. V, Metro 14 and Global Montreal are switching to digital Aug 31.

In Toronto, Radio-Canada, CBC, Global, Citytv, CHCH, OMNI 1, OMNI 2, CTV and Sun News Network are all already broadcasting in digital. TVO will be switching to digital on August 18, 2011.

CityTV Winnipeg will be switching to digital on August 31, 2011 and CTV Winnipeg is currently broadcasting in digital at 25% power and will be going full power by August 31 or earlier. Global Winnipeg is currently broadcasting in digital and CBC will be going digital August 31. JoyTV11 and Radio-Canada are also switching to digital on August 31.

In Regina, Global, CBC, and Radio-Canada will be switching to digital by August 31. CTV will be switching to digital “around” the August 31 deadline.

In Edmonton, CBC is currently available in digital and Global Edmonton will be switching to digital by August 31, 2011. CTS Edmonton is switching to digital on August 10 while Access will be shutting down its OTA service entirely on August 31 and will not be upgrading to digital. Radio-Canada is switching to digital on August 31 as is OMNI. CTV Edmonton is switching to digital by August 31 and CityTV Edmonton is already broadcasting in digital.

CBC Calgary switched to digital in April 2011. Both Access Calgary and Radio-Canada in Calgary will be shutting down by August 31 and will not be upgrading to digital. CTS Calgary is switching to digital on August 16, 2011 and CTV Calgary is already in digital. OMNI is switching to digital August 31, 2011 and both Global Calgary and CityTV Calgary are already operational in digital OTA.

JoyTV10 and Global in Vancouver will be switching to digital on August 31, 2011. CityTV Vancouver is currently operational in digital and A Vancouver Island will switch to digital on August 31. OMNI’s digital transmitter is operational and Radio-Canada is switching to digital on August 31, 2011. CTV and CBC are currently broadcasting over-the-air in digital.

We also picked one non-mandatory market to look at – Sudbury – where CBC and Radio-Canada will not be available in digital and “should” continue in analog after August 31. TVO will not switch to digital but will continue in analog for the foreseeable future with Global TV and CTV switching to digital on August 31. CHCH has not yet decided if its analog rebroadcast stations in Sudbury will be upgraded to digital.

If your city wasn’t listed in this article, call your local broadcasters and ask to speak to an engineer.

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One Response to cartt.ca article re-post: Cord-Cutting: Figuring out the OTA option isn’t easy

  1. David Winter says:

    In London Ontario the following is going Digital

    6- Global
    10-CTV-2
    13-CTV-1
    14-CTS
    18-TVO
    19.1 SUN TV (Already Digital)
    20-OMNI2
    31-CITYTV
    40 53 CBC SHUTTING DOWN- London and area are very upset about this. All Municipalities in this area are
    upset as well.
    51-CHCH
    69 OMNI

    Staying Analog
    29 GLOBAL
    42 CTV
    Both of the above stations are available in London, but somehow because they are registered for Sarnia are not being mandated to go digital

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