Part 3 – Shaw Direct: The Saviour of Free TV in Rural and Remote Canada?

Photo Credit: PGM

Photo Credit: PGM

Dear Minister Moore,

Summer has arrived early, eh?

Before I get to Part 3 of my review of Shaw’s Local Television Satellite Solution (LTSS) program, I’d first like to add something I forgot to mention in Part 2 of this post.

While the LTSS program is now bringing more and better quality television channels to my parents’ place in Denbigh, ON, one downside of the LTSS program that I failed to mention is that it is low on the local (in Ontario, at least).

Of the 12 channels that my parents can now watch in Denbigh, none are local.

Ottawa is only 2 hours away but zero Ottawa stations are available in Denbigh via the LTSS (or OTA DTV for that matter).

For the 40 years leading up to Canada’s digital television transition, Denbigh residents could watch CJOH (CTV Ottawa) and CBOT (CBC Ottawa) among others over-the-air in analogue. No luck since August 31, 2011.

The closest station available in Denbigh under the LTSS is CTV Sudbury which is 6 hours away.

My point here is that there is a downside to satellite beyond cost and line of sight reception. Satellite sucks for local television.

Now for Part 3 of my LTSS report featuring the handsome hoser pictured above.

Toby is the son of my parents’ neighbours in Denbigh.

Like so many Canadian sons and daughters, Toby has been trying to help his parents (both Seniors) to adjust to the digital television transition.

Toby’s mother thought she would also apply to the LTSS after learning of the eventual success my parents had.

The refurbished Starchoice SD receiver arrived no problem (as pictured above).

Things were looking up until it came to the installation.

The same guy from Kingston who installed my parents dish drove up to Denbigh.

Chris the Installer started doing his thing but soon ran into trouble.

In order to get to a spot with a clear line of sight from the dish to the Shaw satellite(s), Chris had to run a bunch of cable up to the road.

Unfortunately for Toby, his parents domicile is more than 250 feet from where the Shaw Direct dish needed to be installed.

Apparently, installers are not allowed to run more than 250 feet of coax to the dish since the signal will degrade too much.

The end result for Toby and his parents (and his sister and brother in law) is that they are not able to receive TV under Shaw’s LTSS program.

From what my brother has advised, Chris the Installer simply packed up and left once he learned that they needed more than 250 feet of cable.

I mentioned this scenario on Twitter and the ever resourceful Mike Vormittag advised that an amplifier at the 250 foot mark could be a fix.

Whether Shaw will resend Chris to try again with an amp is unclear.

That’s Toby’s LTSS story.

Do you have a LTSS story? Please let me know via a comment on this here blog.



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19 Responses to Part 3 – Shaw Direct: The Saviour of Free TV in Rural and Remote Canada?

  1. Brenda says:

    Hi Steven, just touching base re: LTSS program. Spoke to a couple of people in my area yesterday about the program. The feedback was very cautious skepticism!??? I sensed doubt from one person who probably thinks that at some point Shaw Direct WILL initiate monthly billing.
    The other person actually said to me, “Be careful.” Since her children got her the latest model big screen TV, she can receive quite a few digital channels, still using her OTA aerial.
    Anyway, just thought I’d let you know.
    I have a scheduled date of July 10 for the installer to come out. 🙂

  2. stephan says:

    Just got my receiver, 12 channels free, they do give you a few more that they don’t tell you about 🙂 beats paying for an antenna and installation.

  3. bushman says:

    Got my reciever a couple of weeks ago. I have 18 tv chanels, 1 radio, plus my 4 usa networks OTA. plus now a tv guide. Hint store the chanels you get in your area in your favorite menu, and you whon’t be flipping through all the chanels they want you by.

  4. Rev. Quincy Collins says:

    Well, basic cable was about $50/month in our area of rural Nova Scotia. Being on EI it had to go in April. ( Ever notice the inverse mathmatical relationship between TV sets and programs? As the quality of the TV sets goes up, the quality of the programming declines?) However, at least we had CBC. I installed a digital antenna hoping to gain ATV or Global. Too far from those stations. However we still had CBC. Then, my wife let me know we were going to lose CBC in a month. No TV at all for two months. Funny, we never missed it much at all! We borrowed DVD’s from neighbours and the library. However, all was not lost ( even if we lost our analog signals.) We decided to apply for the free service. As we had no cable for three months and lived in an area where we applied we gladly waited two months as we applied, received the refurbished tuner, and today we have four stations plus a weather channel and a Shaw programming channel. Beats a kick in the seat in the pants! Annapolis County, Nova Scotia

  5. Murdoch Ravlin says:

    How come this is only Shaw? I have Bell and what I get is not really worth $50 a month, I would settle for the equivalent thing from Bell if it were available. However this is set up it should be a government CRTC mandated system not just something run by the providers to try to fish you into using their system. Unfortunately our present government does not really believe in government, and wants everything to be run by corporations. However I do not know if this is on purpose or accidental but notice that Bell local coverage is somewhat deteriorated in comparison to over the air (the audio is over modulated and distorted). Over the air for me seems to fade in and out however.

  6. Laura says:

    As far as the promotion of this service, it was constantly being advertised in SW Ontario in September. I called on Oct 5 and received my receiver today (Oct 19). Installation will be a week tomorrow (fortunately they can come on a Saturday since I’m all out of days off at work!!). Hopefully this will work for us since we were not able to receive any channels at all as we didn’t have an outside antenna and the digital converter did absolutely nothing. For us, living in the country and not being able to afford satellite, this is certainly going to be really nice, even if the channels end up not being really “local” like Kitchener and London.

  7. findmydream says:

    We got the installation done on Saturday morning. They had actually called ahead the night before, but didn’t leave a message and then called shortly after 8 to let me know they would be out 9:30-10. They arrived about ten. First issue was of course the trees that are on the south side of the house, the direction that they needed to direct the dish. They finally figured out where to put it and got it installed. They were very courteous and accommodating since our living room is in disarray from an unplanned renovation, so our TV was not where it should be. They put the hole through where the TV will be and put an extension on the cable to bring it across the room to the current location. They got everything set up (though not the arrangement with our VCR and DVD player, which I had to figure out later). The updating was taking quite some time, so they gave me instructions on how to check when it was done and left. The update finished a short time later and we started exploring what we have. Turns out we have 12 channels for sure and there was one that showed up last night, but it was gone this morning. Have the major Canadian networks including TVO and then we also have the BC Knowledge Network which seems similar to TVO. We did lose our signal shortly after noon on Saturday and I called to have it refreshed. They got me set up with an account to be able to do this on my own online. No problems since. We’ll see how it goes with hurricane Sandy coming through the next couple of days. Was ok so far this morning, though it wasn’t showing any info on the programming. Overall pretty satisfied with it so far. My husband still thinks there is a catch to it. One thing not too impressed with was the caulking job they did with the dish and where it went into the basement (huge blobs) and where the cable goes around the chimney (really loose, will have to tighten somehow).

  8. Russ Stangl says:

    Hey Dude: It appears that your blog is dated to late 2012. We live in rural southwestern Ontario and have not received CBC – OTA for some time now as you well know. We were not made aware of this free hook-up program until today (April 2015). Are you aware of a similar offering continuing this free service.

    • Hi Russ. Thanks for the comment. I’m sorry to hear about your loss of OTA access to CBC TV. I’m not aware of any other programs akin to Shaw’s LTSS. It’s too bad that Shaw didn’t promote it better when it was still accepting new applicants. The CRTC granted Shaw permission to spend millions (of benefits money) to do such promotion. Best, Steven.

  9. Susan M says:

    I only found out about it because I emailed the CRTC to complain about losing TV back in 2012. We were in Northern Alberta and got CBC CTV GLOBAL from Edmonton and Calgary, The knowledge network and APTN. For a while we got a bunch of HD channels but it was just a promotion because they were just rolling them out. We now live in central Saskatchewan and didn’t take our receiver because we didn’t know if it was usable here.

    • Hi Susan. Thanks for the comment. That’s interesting that you were receiving APTN and also some HD channels via LTSS. Officially, LTSSers are to “re-qualify” for LTSS service if they move. Unclear what that would entail. Steven

  10. Moe says:

    Hello I just moved to denbigh ontario and was wondering is their is any free channel I could pick up with just an antenna thx moe

    • Hi Moe,

      In terms of OTA TV in Denbigh, there’s Global TV analogue (NTSC) on channel 2. You might also be able to receive TVO digital (ATSC) on virtual channel 55.1 (44).

      Let me know how it goes!


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