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Canada Concerned About Country's DTV Transition

An article 'Crisis' Looms in Digital TV Transition: CRTC Boss in Broadcaster Magazine indicates Canada may be having trouble with its DTV transition. Konrad von Finckenstein, head of the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) speaking to attendees at the Banff World Television Festival, repeated what he said two years ago at another broadcasting meeting: "My great concern is that the industry will not be ready," said von Finckenstein. "There will be requests for delays, and we will have a crisis on our hands. This must not be allowed to happen."

Full power analog TV operations in Canada are supposed to end after Aug. 31, 2011. Just as in the United States, channels 52-69 will be reallocated. There are different rules for the transition in Canada, including mandatory and non-mandatory markets. They are described in the article.

In his presentation, von Finckenstein says the DTV transition could create some interesting opportunities for television broadcasters, including Mobile DTV services. "I would expect that mobile broadcasting is something that would be of great interest to independent producers," he said.

As many as 44,000 households in non-mandatory markets could potentially lose access to local TV after the transition. Satellite service would be the only alternative, and that costs money to install and the households losing off-air capability would have to pay the going rate for satellite television service they used to receive free of charge.

Von Finckenstein called the situation "clearly untenable." What could be termed a free "basic cable" for Canadian satellite is an option, but it would require amending current regulations. Some of the items he mentioned, including those on the need for consumer education, mirror what those of us in the United States were talking about a year ago.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.