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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This thread has been split off from the following thread in the OTA Forum, which contains links and discussion about the recent CRTC OTA DTV decisions: CRTC Decision of July 16, 2010 re: May, 2010 Hearings

While the CRTC approved FreeHD satellite provision of services to areas that will not be covered in the Mandatory Markets of the DTV conversion, they also okayed existing BDUs to offer a set of "Skinny Locals" on their systems in those same areas.This thread is for discussion and clarification of what that BDU "Skinny Locals" decision could mean for Canadian consumers in those locations.
 

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In the U.S. they have non OTA network affiliate stations on cable, where a particular network station doesn't exist. Rochester is an example with its CW affiliate which use to be cable only but now is on an OTA sub-channel of WHAM. I guess you could call it a Skinny local station.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The actual CRTC "Skinny Locals" decision

In the CRTC's decision of July 16, 2010, under the sub-title "General authorization to distribute a local package", are Sections 17 through 23 giving a preamble about the concept of Skinny Locals, and in Section 24 is the actual decision establishing the parameters:
...the Commission will establish a general authorization, pursuant to Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2009-546, that will grant BDUs an exception to section 5 of the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations so as to permit them to distribute a local package both in and outside mandatory markets without having to provide users of the local package with the full basic service. This authorization will be subject to the following conditions:
  • Only local and regional television stations licensed to broadcast within the BDU’s licensed area shall be included in the package. Stations without over-the-air transmitters must provide a direct feed to BDU head-ends or up-link centres.
  • Local package users cannot receive video-on-demand or any other broadcasting services in conjunction with the local package.
  • BDUs may offer telephony or Internet services to local package users, but may not offer a local package as part of a bundle or otherwise make receiving this package contingent on purchasing other services.
  • No monthly fee shall be charged for the local package service, but users may be required to purchase or rent equipment or pay for service/support calls. In addition, users may choose to pay for the use of an electronic programming guide.
  • Any future compensation related to the proposed local television signal compensation regime will not apply to the local package.
http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2010/2010-485.htm

I highly advise that you read sections 17 through 23 in order to understand the above a bit better.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
My reading of the fourth bullet point is that Cable companies have been given the option of how to deliver the Skinny Locals on their systems, and so in my expectation Clear QAM will thus never be used when there is money to be made ensuring that anyone wanting just the Skinny Locals will still have to pay for boxes. I have no complaint with the BDUs finding a way to charge for them. Business is business and there are no free lunches.

I think the CRTC needed to make the means of Skinny Local delivery optional in order to avoid legal fights over whether they have the authority to order BDUs to provide absolutely "free" services.
 

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In addition, users may choose to pay for the use of an electronic programming guide.
users may be required to purchase or rent equipment or pay for service/support calls.
That's how BDUs will make money on the service. Don't charge for the channels but overcharge for the program guide. I can see receiver rentals being a profit center as well. BDUs could overcharge for receiver rentals and refuse to authorize certain models of receivers that are currently owned by customers. For example, a BDU may only allow the use of a basic rented receiver with no PVR capabilities and charge $10/mo for it and $10/mo extra for the guide. Hypothetically, that's not much of a bargain. Compare this decision to free guide data on digital OTA channels and a digital receiver built into new TVs, as is available in most US markets. It amounts to the CRTC letting broadcasters off the hook for an OTA transition and handing BDUs yet another windfall. (CRTC rant appropriate here but I'll pass for now.)
 

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So, I expect this decision to result in free Analog Cable on channels 2-13 consisting of Canadian local OTAs, Satelite-to-Cable broadcating undertakings like ASN, a community cable channel, and a few addional channels. I would wish that it also include a Standard Definition feed of the nearest PBS member station too. In Winnipeg those 12 stations would be: 6 Canadian OTAs, Prairie Public Television plus 5 or so other no-cost fillers.
 

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So are Skinny Locals like what you get from Comcast or Time-Warner Cable, where basic is split by Broadcast Basic, which is the local channels and home-shopping and public access channels and gov. coverage like C-Span? And Expanded Basic is MTV and USA Network, and Disney et. al. BB is about $20 and EB is an extra $25 or 30.
 

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When will the CRTC learn that it is ( once again ) not really helping the consumers but giving the dth/cable companies another opportunity to make more money.
 

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*Only local and regional television stations licensed to broadcast within the BDU’s licensed area shall be included in the package.
So, I expect this decision to result in free Analog Cable on channels 2-13 consisting of Canadian local OTAs, Satelite-to-Cable broadcating undertakings like ASN, a community cable channel, and a few addional channels.
Huh? if you include the community cable channel and a few additional channels, you are back to the current basic service...

It looks like the decision was targetting only digital transmission, which means the skinny basic offers: SRC, CBC, CTV, Global, (and depending on your area: Télé-Québec, TVOntario, TVA, V, /A\, ASN, CHCH), well, any channel offered OTA in your area qualifies. No Weather Network, no CPAC, no Shopping Channel and no friggin' APTN.

Questions an concerns...
As cslusarc pointed out, what about analog service? Some cable providers uses absolutely no filters to block analog channels, while others use them, but digital boxes need to access specific frequencies to function and to access a QAM (group of channels).
Live example, Videotron puts a TNV filter that blocks from 130Mhz to 310Mhz, which gives me access to channels 2-6, 95-99, 14-15, 39 and beyond. I can access for free TV5, PBS, TLC, YTV, CMT, CBC News, CPAC and APTN. and some QAM have been placed between analog channels. So choosing between only the skinny basic for free or only the digital basic service for a fee gives me the same analog channels.

There's no mention of US channels. For canadian cities located nearby a major US city whose residents can use a small antenna to receive the networks, do they qualify? I'm thinking of southers ontario, or the Vermont stations labeled as "burlington-plattsburgh-montreal", can they be added to the skinny basic?

Local package users cannot receive video-on-demand or any other broadcasting services[/b. in conjunction with the local package.

They say services. So, no Pay-Per-View or VOD, but can they offer skinny basic AND The Movie Network? Or any Tier packages?

No monthly fee shall be charged for the local package service
Nothing will stop cable providers from charging you 5$ network access fees which is required to operate the digital box, so nothing will be free of charge. In the other hand, you're escaping paying for the Fee-For-Carriage and the LPIF (Local Programming Improvement Fund), but you'll need to pay for access to the IPG.

As also pointed out, PVRs relies heavily on the IPG. Will they allow users to use a PVR without IPG, so you can manually program your shows?
 

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The "skinny locals" package can only be your local broadcast stations, as in ones whose analog transmitter must turn off on Aug 31, 2011.

It cannot be channels received by satellite (unless that is how your BDU receives your local stations), especially cable type channels, including public access. US networks will likely be excluded If you live where you can receive US networks, you can already get them digitally anyhow.

I don't see them usuriuosly renting boxes or charging for an EPG service. The CRTC and the public will not stand for it. Of course rental and purchase costs might more reflect the actual cost of the box. As for PVRs, they are free to charge for that feature as I see it, so likely will, if they allow their PVRs on a skinny locals package. There is nothing keeping one from using a 3rd party DVR or guide service.

For analog channels, I see providers only carrying only the skinny locals in analog, and moving non local channels prohibited from inclusion in the skinny locals package, into a trappable tier, such as that filterable with your TNV filter. They can fill the gaps with QAM, perhaps unencrypted, of the local channels digitally, maybe HD.
 

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The locals they are referring to are the ones that you can pick up with an OTA antenna, namely:

CBC
CTV
Global
Citytv
Radio-Canada (French)
TVA (French)
V (French)

Independent stations (NTV, CHEK & CHCH)
Educational stations (Knowledge, Access, SCN, TVO/TFO & Canal Savoir/Tele-Quebec)
Multicultural stations (OMNI BC, OMNI Alberta, OMNI Ontario & CJNT Montreal)
Religious stations (Joytv, Miracle Channel & CTS)

In addition, users may choose to pay for the use of an electronic programming guide.
WTF?!

Why should people have to pay extra for the IPG when it comes built in with the box?! So you will be forced to fork out hundreds of dollars for the equipment then on top of that they will charge you for access to the programming guide?! What a joke! :mad: I feel sorry for those who decide to go with Rogers because they have the most horrible EPG on the planet!
 

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When will the CRTC learn that it is ( once again ) not really helping the consumers but giving the dth/cable companies another opportunity to make more money.
The CRTC knows what they're doing and helping the consumers/citizens is nowhere on their radar.

There's no need to deal with their antic anymore esp or OTA stations like what's in this skinny basic package.

Just toss an antenna paired with an atsc tuner and if that's not enough there's TV on DVD, iTunes and soon Netflix.

The rare times I watch actual TV channels anymore the commercials seem more and more out if place.
 

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Why should people have to pay extra for the IPG when it comes built in with the box?
IIRC, TiVo charges $15/mo for the guide service on their DVRs. IMHO, that's a ridiculous price. I currently pay $20/yr for guide info from Schedules Direct for HTPC use.
 

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An EPG costs money. The provider has to subscribe to a guide service (likely with a per customer cost), plus process it. If they cannot give it away, why not bill for it?

TiVo's service fee is $12.95 (US), but covers a lot more than guide data, despite that is most of what the call delivers. The TiVo subscription is a subscription to the software running on the TiVo hardware for all practical purposes, as well as the guide data (which at one time was rumoured to cost $1.50 or so per subscription, to TiVo)
 

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Just toss an antenna paired with an atsc tuner and if that's not enough there's TV on DVD, iTunes and soon Netflix.
Hypothetically assuming I receive TV only from antenna:

Can you guarantee I will receive my local programming free, after Aug 31, 2011. I don't think an ATSC tuner will help, since there is no indications the local re-broadcast transmitters (there are no actual local stations at all) I can receive will be digital by that date.
 

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My reading of the fourth bullet point is that Cable companies have been given the option of how to deliver the Skinny Locals on their systems, and so in my expectation Clear QAM will thus never be used when there is money to be made ensuring that anyone wanting just the Skinny Locals will still have to pay for boxes.
This sucks. I don't want any slow STBs scattered all over the house, give me a cable to stick into the back of the TV with clear QAM and call it a day!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
If all the CATV companies simply ran the Skinny Locals over Clear QAM it would be an ideal solution for the consumer. All that a consumer would need to do is simply plug in the coax to the HDTV and run a scan to get all the Skinny Local channels.

The problem with that scenario is that the CATV companies would not be receiving any fees from that consumer for using their system. That is not a profitable business solution that I'd expect any sensible company to make. That's why I do not expect to see Skinny Locals available on Clear QAM channels.

Too bad for the consumer, though.
 

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(which at one time was rumoured to cost $1.50 or so per subscription, to TiVo)
$1.50 cost to the company and $12.95 billing to the customer. That's quite the mark up.

I'm betting this'll be shades of what skinny locals turn out to be.
 

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As I said though, the TiVo subscription is more than just guide data, it is a license to use most all of the software features of the box, despite most of what the connection getting being guide data.
 

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CATV companies would not be receiving any fees from that consumer for using their system.
Isn't that the point of the skinny package? Service the customers that they normally wouldn't be servicing anyway because of OTA? Most would stay with the free option but some others might want a a PVR or access to PPV.
 
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