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Canadian DTV Transition – One Year Delay for CBC

Underestimating the interest in over-the-air TV isn't limited to the United States. This week Canada's telecommunications regulator, the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) allowed public broadcaster Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) to continue broadcasting analog television signals in 22 markets until August 2012.

The CBC was not required to replace analog transmitters with digital transmitters. The CRTC said that the CBC operates 22 analog transmitters that cover "mandatory" digital conversion markets that it didn't plan to switch to DTV. When these analog transmitters are shut down, over-the-air viewers in the markets they serve will lose the CBC over-the-air programs they broadcast. In the last RF Report I reported on concern over this loss of service.

In announcing the extension of the CBC shutdown of these 22 analog transmitters until August 2012, the CRTC said, "As the national public broadcaster, the CBC has a unique mandate to serve the entire Canadian population. A one-year extension is necessary to guarantee over-the-air viewers in some mandatory markets do not lose access to the signals of CBC television stations and have sufficient time to find alternate means of accessing them."

It isn't clear whether CBC will be required to convert all or some of the 22 transmitters to digital, but the CRTC statement said it "will examine the CBC's long-term plans for its analog over-the-air transmitters during the June 2012 public hearing to renew its radio and television licences." See the CTV article CBC get reprieve on transition to digital signal for more background information. That article includes this quote by London city Councilor Matt Brown, "The CRTC has made the right decision. The CBC has to do what is necessary to ensure they don't create a digital divide between those who have cable and satellite and those who don't." Angus McKinnon, manager of media relation for the CBC, said, "We'll need to re-evaluate the situation in mandatory markets as we approach the end of our one-year extension."

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.