Home / Workplace Directory / Are Canadian broadcasters missing the boat?

Are Canadian broadcasters missing the boat?

In an article in the latest Broadcast Dialogue magazine, consultant (and former CBC executive) Michael McEwen says that Canadians left the transition from analogue to digital TV production and transmission up to the market “and the marketplace has failed to date.” Of the thousands of over-the-air transmitters in this country, only twenty are digital, and digital production facilities only exist in the “network centres.”

That means that only those of us in the big cities (where the few digital transmitters are) can now get picture-perfect digital TV for free, over the air. Everywhere else in the country, you have to pay for the privilege.

And the digital divide is only going to grow if the broadcasters are allowed to give up on over-the-air transmission in much of the country after August 31, 2011. That is the date the CRTC has chosen to shut down analogue transmitters to free up that spectrum to sell for some other use. It is quite possible that millions of Canadians will be left with no free option for TV, and will have to pay for satellite, cable or IPTV service to get any channels at all.

This is one of the issues that hangs in the balance of the CRTC’s move to narrow the scope of the private TV licence renewal hearings slated for April. We are due to hear more about that early next week.

Canadian broadcasters would have us believe that over-the-air is going the way of the dinosaurs. But broadcasters are taking a different approach in the U.S., where analogue transmitters will be shut down in June of this year and where thousands of digital transmitters are already in operation. McEwen points out:

Like their Canadian counterparts, U.S. broadcasters are also losing audiences to cable and satellite distributors, not quite to the same degree but certainly pointed in the same direction. However, the U.S. broadcaster holds to the belief that their transmitter gives them independence and the right to control their core delivery platform, one they hope to evolve into a multi-platform delivery service [eg. by transmitting directly to wireless devices, for example – Lise]. It is this kind of innovative thinking that has always been associated with broadcasting, but sadly seems to have been lost in Canada.


Find Member Resources

Popular Topics

Scroll to Top