The End of an Era: CBC and TVO Officially End Analog TV

by Jordan Richardson on August 2, 2012

CBC/Radio-Canada and TVO have officially ended their analog television service, which means that anyone who had been using an antenna to receive signals for free will now find themselves out of luck. It symbolizes the end of an era and the full shift away from analog.

According to the CBC, the changeover only impacted 1.7 percent of its viewers. The majority of the population receives their televised entertainment through satellite or cable television sources, digital tuners, Internet connections, and so on.

The CBC has shut down a total of 607 analog transmitters. Most of them were located in small communities and rural areas. 27 digital transmitters replaced those analog transmitters in 2011 and 2012. The move is expected to save the public broadcaster some $10 million per year. The CBC says that it’ll funnel that money back into programming.

Some argue that the CBC should continue to offer its programming for free because it’s a publicly-funded broadcasting company.

“The TV transmitter infrastructure is worth millions and was paid for by Canadian taxpayers,” said Catherine Edwards of the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations.

“The CBC-TV and Radio-Canada analog transmitter shutdown is a sad chapter in Canada’s digital transition,” says Karen Wirsig of the Canadian Media Guild. “We understand that CBC is in a financial bind with $155 million in cuts required by 2015. Something had to give. Evidently infrastructure outside of major cities is not a priority for the federal government, despite rhetoric about the digital economy.”

“The CBC is behaving as if it were a commercial broadcaster, rather than a public broadcaster. You need only contrast CBC’s stance with that of TVO to underline this failure,” says Ian Morrison of Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.

In the case of Ontario’s TVO, they handled the transition differently. The company offered communities the option to own their own local transmitter tower and satellite dish after the decommission of their analog OTA transmitters.

There is indeed a case to be made on behalf of customers who have been paying for CBC programming but now find themselves unable to view it. And there is also a case to be made for the CBC, having been subjected to drastic cuts by the federal government and forced to follow the rules of the digital transition without much, if any, fiscal support.

In the end, there’s no holding back the wave of the digital transition. It is the end of an era.

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