Deadline is Monday to launch complaint with CRTC
Source: Barrie Examiner
Stephen Michael turns away customers who want to buy digital antennae in Barrie.
The owner of Michael Enterprises Audio & Visual Services on Bell Farm Road said it’s not worth it to run an antenna that only pulls in four or five channels.
“I had a woman who wanted a digital antenna and I did everything I could to talk her out of it,” Michael said.
The problem, he said, is digital signals coming out of the Greater Toronto Area do well until they hit Newmarket and then their signal drops off significantly.
Around this time last year, CBC cut off its analog services to the Barrie area. They estimated about 95% of Canadians use cable or satellite, and the cost of fixing and maintaining the service was prohibitive.
With their budget cuts, Angus McKinnon, of CBC corporate services, said they couldn’t justify spending $10 million on the maintenance and repair of 620 aging transmitters.
“Some of them are decades old and we can’t find the parts to fix them anymore,” McKinnon said.
Once the U.S. shut down its use of analog television in 2009, parts became even more difficult to source.
In the CBC’s request to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to decommission analog services, they state the manufacture of the over-the-air transmitter parts halted in 2007 and if and when they find parts, they have increased cost of 30% to 100% more than previous years.
The cost to replace the now obsolete system is estimated at $56 million.
“It’s an affordability issue,” McKinnon said. “We can’t put money into technology of the past.” McKinnon said the CBC estimates about 1.7% of the population of Canada still uses over-the-air, or bunny-ear technology.
With a population of approximately 37 million, that’s about 629,000 people who will no longer access CBC’s signal on July 31 when they pull the plug.
McKinnon believes Barrie itself won’t notice because they pulled the analog plug here last summer, and we now get the digital signal from the GTA.
But Cathy Edwards of the small non-profit group called the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations (CACTUS) believes people in rural Canada, in the areas outside Barrie who can’t pull in the GTA digital signal, still count.
She points to a Canadian Media Research survey that states the number of users runs at a slightly higher rate of 9.7%
In a 2011-12 Media Trends survey, they found that 9.7% don’t subscribe to cable or satellite, and that one in three Canadians have at least one television not connected to cable or satellite.
With the last day to make a formal complaint with the CRTC against the CBC’s decommissioning of the analog signal Monday, June 18, Edwards wanted antenna users to be aware they have a short time to have their say. “I want your community to know you have options,” Edwards said.
She suggests asking the CRTC to designate Barrie area as a mandatory market, where broadcasters must upgrade to digital or cease broadcasting. Outlying Barrie areas could suggest CBC and Radio-Canada’s signals be multiplexed — broadcast as a sub-channel — by using Global or CTV’s transmitters.
Edwards suggests the community can pay for a transmitter with a digital upgrade, or a local community channel could offer a basic package.
© Barrie Examiner