Source: Canadian Business
MONTREAL - Even though almost one million Canadian households aren't ready for the transition to digital TV, the head of the CRTC says there's no need for a government subsidy to help those consumers make the switch.
Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein said Friday that digital converter boxes have come down in price with a "deluxe" box costing $75, while consumers can buy them for as little as $29 on online auction site eBay.
"Frankly, having a government program for a month — that easily strikes me as being over the top," von Finckenstein said in an interview.
"Surely people who receive their signal over the air can afford to spend that amount of money and I am pretty sure they will."
Canadian broadcasters will make the switch to digital television from analog on Aug. 31, 2011.
Von Finckenstein noted that the United States had a subsidy program for converter boxes when it made the transition to digital TV in 2009.
"If the government wants to do it, there's nothing that stops them from doing it," he added, referring to subsidies.
"But I don't see any necessity for it."
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said Canadians who subscribe to cable or satellite television services will not be affected by the transition to digital TV.
However, the regulator has also estimated there up to 857,000 households in large markets that don't subscribe to either cable or satellite TV.
Friends of Canadian Broadcasting spokesman Ian Morrison said a subsidy program similar to the American program is needed for the affected Canadian households, particularly for seniors.
"By not doing so, the government is just provoking what will become a political problem," Morrison said from Toronto.
© Canadian Business