Strictly speaking, the CBC satellite network is part of the behind the scenes infrastructure and not intended for public use. The old analog system dated back to the 1970s, before scrambling schemes were developed. It was quite a feat in those days. It was designed from the ground up by Telesat and CBC. The computers behind that system predated hard drives and floppy disks. The program was stored on paper punch tape. We have a Emmy in our Network Operations Centre for that system.
The current system is a essentially an off the shelf product that was deployed around 2001. It is MUCH more cost effective than the old system. Since it was not a custom build we have to work within the design parameters. In order to control the receivers they must have a smart card installed. In order to ensure the smart cards stay in the receivers, we turn encryption on.
Having said that, the scrambling was off for several months due to some technical issues. It was switched back on a few days ago. I really doubt anybody was watching it with a FTA rig during that time. You still need an 8PSK receiver and for decent reception you need a 4m antenna.
In short, the scrambling is a technical requirement, not an effort to keep eyes out.
CBC English Radio, TV and web streaming: Retired