Friday, May 25, 2007

Canadian Analog TV Signal shutdown date

Discovered this little tidbit from Peter Near's blog.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has introduced changes to the way it regulates conventional television broadcasters. These measures will ensure Canadians have access to digital and high-definition television programming, and that broadcasters continue to contribute to the production, acquisition and broadcast of high-quality Canadian programming.

Notably, the Commission has decided to:

  • remove restrictions on advertising time limits after gradually increasing the amount of advertising allowed;
  • establish August 31, 2011, as the date by which television licensees will only broadcast digital signals;
  • require English- and French-language broadcasters to caption for the hearing impaired 100 per cent of their programs over the 18-hour broadcast day, with the exception of advertising and promotions; and
  • deny a subscriber fee for the carriage of local conventional television stations on cable and satellite as its necessity has not been demonstrated.

More information is available at the CTRC press release 'The Commission establishes a new approach for Canadian conventional television' as well as Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2007-53.

What does this mean?

In the US, the FCC has enacted a similar analog broadcast shutdown date of February 17, 2009. Beyond this date, any over-the-air television broadcast needs to be in digital format (ATSC). Prior to this announcement, many networks 'dragged' their feet in switching over from the older analog broadcasting equipment to much superior digital broadcast equipment. This shutdown deadline was really what got the ball rolling on this conversion, as sometimes, a deadline is needed to spur one to action. Hopefully, this announcement causes a similar process to occur in Canada, especially for those few stations who still haven't started broadcasting in digital format (cough cough Global TV in Toronto). Now that we have a defined analog shutdown date, there is added incentive for the broadcasters to make the switch.

I've talked about over-the-air HDTV in the past in the blog entries First Foray into HDTV, HDTV Antenna Update, HDTV Antenna Update Part 2, and Media Center in Vista. With the number of digital television broadcasters soon to increase, people will soon realize that they have a free source of high quality programming available to them (obviously Bell and Rogers don't want you to know about it though). Perhaps you may see aerial antennas, currently used mostly by enthusiasts, become more mainstream. Even the media is starting to pick up on this, as seen in this recent canoe.ca article A new life for 'rabbit ears' (Thanks for the link, Laura).

Media Center Implications

Of course, this announcement has Media Center implications! Hopefully with Canada's commitment to over-the-air broadcasting, Microsoft will officially support ASTC tv signal source in Media Center for Canadians. Currently, we need to resort to hacks as described on Peter's blog - ATSC in Canada with Media Center Vista (RTM). Going forward, hacks like this should not be necessary, and I hope that we will see movement on this, even as soon as the next Media Center revision.

1 comment:

novamaz said...

Personally, I am not in favour of a shutdown of all the analog television signals. I live in a rural area without conventional cable, have rabbit-ears to catch the airwaves, and enjoy getting the Canadian signals that are broadcast in analog signals. I get CBC, CTV and Global and am quite happy with those 3 networks. I get news, weather, and a bit of entertainment in the evening. That's enough for me.

If I want more, I'll rent DVDs (soon to be BluRay, I suppose ... another unnecessary upgrade, as far as I'm concerned), take in a movie, or go somewhere that there's digital/cable signal.

Although the advancement of digital signals is all well and fine, I'm not sure why there is such a driving need to shutdown the analog signals. Just to motivate the broadcasters doesn't seem like it's enough of a reason.

For what it's worth, nor do I have highspeed internet and am fine with dialup, for the most part.

Canada is far different than the USA, and most of us are glad of it. There are many more remote areas in Canada that are well serviced by analog signals (I believe).

Let's keep the rabbit-ears alive!

- marke