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Discussion Starter #1
Just proposing this as new thread since even though the US analog shutdown is 2 yrs away there seems (to me anyways) more discussion about it on US forums these days.
The links I have included below could have gone in several other existing threads, but none of them deal specifically with this topic. All existing info on DHC has been hijacked into threads dealing with something else.

My position has been that if we are to assume Canada will eventually follow the US lead in shutting down analog transmissions, we should follow the progression in the US closely, so as minimize/eliminate any potential negative impact here in Canada.

So to start for people to new to this topic, a little primer:
from wikipedia.org:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-definition_television_in_the_United_States
Analog shutoff process

Because HDTV requires extra broadcast spectrum during the transition period, it had become a topic of political controversy in the United States. Current stations have received a free channel, usually in the UHF range, on which to broadcast their digital signal, while still maintaining analog service.

According to the original FCC rules, all full power stations were to convert to digital by the beginning of 2007, followed by shutdown of analog broadcasting. An escape clause stipulated that 85% of receivers in the service area must be "capable" of receiving digital signals before the shutdown could occur. At the time of analog shutoff, one of the channels (digital or analog) would then be returned to the government, with the other channel remaining as a digital station; the freed spectrum could then be used for other TV stations, with UHF channels at the high end of the band being decommissioned and sold for other uses. The 2007 deadline could not be satisfied under many interpretations of 85% "capability" of digital signal reception.

On February 8th, 2006, President Bush signed into law the "Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005", a section of the "Deficit Reduction Act of 2005." This law mandated a hard shut-off date of February 17, 2009 for the end of all analog (NTSC) TV transmissions in the U.S., thus ending this uncertainty. The act also provided for the auctioning off of the frequencies associated with UHF channels 52 to 69, and set aside $990 million for a voucher program enabling low-income households to purchase converter boxes.
And the state of the matter as it stands in April 2007:
from broadcastengineering.com

http://broadcastengineering.com/hdtv/knowledge-dtv-transition-low-yager-0403/
Knowledge of DTV transition low, more education needed, Yager says

Jim Yager, CEO of Barrington Broadcasting and NAB Television Board member, underscored the sizable task of informing the public about DTV transition March 28, telling the House Telecommunications Subcommittee that only 40 percent of Americans know the transition is underway and just 1 percent to 3 percent realize it will be completed February 2009.
 

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There are a lot of other threads on DHC responding in various ways to the question of how the U.S. experience may affect Canadian OTA.

I forsee two main results:
  • "Me too" program for subsidized digital STB, but it will fail
  • Continued OTA complacency by broadcasters

Once the U.S. digital receiver subsidy kicks in, and people start seeing the result, there may be pressure in Canada to duplicate this. It will likely fail because of few potential takers --- most TV viewers are urban and already cable subscribers. Those with satellite receivers already do not care about OTA.

There is no major incentive (legal, policy or financial) to support OTA. CBC does it because they can; CTV did it because they compete with CBC technically and politically. Global doesn't because they do not perceive a need.

If the bandwidth demand in Canada heated up dramatically, and the folks at Industry Canada actually noticed, and the potential revenue was credibly understood, and (insert more political/economic roadblocks here) then IC might push for fully digital TV in Canada. Not before I retire I'm sure!

The history of digital mobile phone spectrum auctions in Canada (what was it called, PSM or something) is a hint. Several successful bidders defaulted on their payments (Clearnet for one) and got picked up for cheap while in receivership by the current incumbents. The government got little of what was bid, as I recall. The potential for revenue from spectrum auctions is therefore tainted by this history Caveat: I'm not a historian; I might have this somewhat wrong.

The U.S. OTA experience will probably follow the Dutch experience, which was apparantly very quiet. Somebody will point out that only Korean manufacturers seem to be profiting from the subsidy; there will be a massive sales pitch for Christmas '08, there will be localized extensions negotiated by several U.S. senators as riders on agricultural subsidy bills; CBS' 60 Minutes will do a piece; stock prices of antenna makers will spike then crash; by April 2009 everyone will have forgotten about it.

In Canada, if the NDP can find a way, they might politicize it. The potential marginalization of rural viewers (assuming an OTA adoption is urban only) might be significant: if rural Saskatchewan can demand it and simultaneously link it to wheat subsidies it might fly. But as a political hockey puck OTA is too complicated and therefore not attractive to Canadian politicos.

The real issue for Canada is that the U.S. has actually had a forward-thinking strategy for the last 15 years regarding HDTV and OTA. Canada has had nothing other than "me too". If the U.S. OTA conversion brings this into clearer focus, that will be good.
 

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If the bandwidth demand in Canada heated up dramatically, and the folks at Industry Canada actually noticed, and the potential revenue was credibly understood, and (insert more political/economic roadblocks here) then IC might push for fully digital TV in Canada. Not before I retire I'm sure!
First of all; the US decision to go digital was not the result of "Intelligent Design";) Bandwidth scarcity was the major driver. The US switch to ATSC frees up channels 52..69 (and 2..6 not sure??). In Canada, the usurious rates charged by cellphone companies have throttled demand for additional spectrum. So there is no bandwidth shortage that would cause the government to...
  1. try to scrounge a couple of hundred mhz of additional bandwidth
  2. believe that it could generate major revenue by auctioning off the additional bandwidth
In other words, the factors that drove the US government to push digital in the US don't exist in Canada. In Canada, the major effect of the US DTV switchover will be
  • competition perceived by OTA broadcasters in Canada in border cities. I.e. if people in the GTA start putting up rooftop antennas in droves to get Buffalo, and Global's OTA ratings plummet, this might be a wake-up call.
  • the possible reaction by Rogers and other cablecos (and possibly the CRTC) with regard to "analogue basic" and US OTA broadcasts.
    1. the cablecos take the American DTV signals, pan/scan them and translate the result to NTSC signals in the "analogue basic" tier. Net result would be no change.
    2. the cablecos take the American DTV signals, pan/scan them and put them in the digital tier. Customers would have to "upgrade" their basic subscriptions to the digital tier. Net result would be minor, possibly pushing a small number of basic subscribers to leave cable for OTA, or possibly cheaper satellite service.
    3. the cablecos will say "Gosh darn, golly gee willikers. Sorry folks. Them damn Yankees have gone all-HDTV. If you want to watch them, you'll have to rent an HDTV terminal (ka-ching), plus pay a monthly "digital access fee" (ka-ching}. There is the possibility of a major loss of analog-tier customers to OTA/satellite.
Barring direct orders from the CRTC imposing option 1), I expect Rogers will do 2) or 3) to convert analogue basic customers to digital or, failing that, lose them altogether. Analogue basic probably has the lowest ARPU. And if Rogers' percentage of digital customers hits the magic mark that allows them to drop analog entirely, there'll be dancing in Rogers' boardrooms. A lot also depends on who's in power in Ottawa. A Conservative government will probably let things slide ("market driven approach"). What really scares me is the possibility of a minority Liberal government backed by the NDP in power in February 2009. I wouldn't be surprised to see at least some "OTA licence fees", or possibly a push to ban OTA reception outright.
 

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Better Reception

The direct effect of the US shutdown of analog will be better reception along the border.

Half as many US signals means less interference, plus...

Analog is broadcast at higher power than digital (for same coverage). So today when interference occurs between an analog and digital station, analog "beats up" the digital signal pretty bad.

In areas along the border where the spectrum is crowded, such as the Golden Horseshoe, the end of US analog should yield noticeable improvement in reception on some channels.
 

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better reception is exactly what i'm waiting for.

I've been saying, since i joined this forum maybe 18 months ago, that the effect of US, (FCC) policy always has and always will govern canadian policy.
Canada always has and always will follow-the-leader.

Yup, the CRTC & indusry canada will study, pretend to listen to the public, pretend to make thier own decisions and then do exactly as the US does. Since we share a very long border, and most canadians live with reception distance of that border, it just dosen't make sense to do anything different.
We tried to lead once, with DAB. Failed. So, we followed along with Sat Radio, just like trained dogs....

My best guess was Canadian analog shutdown in major markets in 2011. It'll be announced on or about Feb. 17, 09. lol
With all the postulating, maybe it'll go a few more years, but by then, the marketplace will have followed the US, so it won't matter anyway.
 

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What I am waiting for is the pile of small to medium sized US cities along the border that do not have any OTA getting OTA.

Here in Fredericton, the closest city is Bangor but the closest town is Calais (It is technically a city but a VERY small one.) and it is likely that even if Calais lives off of the OTA signal from Bangor, we in Fredericton stand a reasonable chance of getting some reception.

Now if Calais were to erect OTA broadcast equipment, well then, Fredericton would be a no brainer and most of NB west would be sitting pretty!!!
 

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In areas along the border where the spectrum is crowded, such as the Golden Horseshoe, the end of US analog should yield noticeable improvement in reception on some channels.
Another effect is opening up room for DTV stations currently above 51. In the Toronto area they include...
  • CKXT - currently broadcasting on 66
  • CIII - Global (giggle) currently allocated 65
  • CFMT - OMNI 1 currently allocated 64
  • CITY - currently broadcasting on 53
They will obviously need to be relocated eventually. Global may solve its problem by simply never broadcasting on 65.
 

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The Toronto digital stations should not be allowed to use any of the USA analog frequencies at shutdown for 3 reasons.First our CRTC blocked several US stations from returning to their analog frequency from Buffalo 29,49.Second since we will have our own shutdown someday Global ,Omni 1 should return to their original analog frequency.Thirdly has the CRTC said they must vacate above 51.Why follow this if we are not following shutdown of analog and we are allocating some lower freq for internet in remote areas.
 

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The Toronto digital stations should not be allowed to use any of the USA analog frequencies at shutdown for 3 reasons.First our CRTC blocked several US stations from returning to their analog frequency from Buffalo 29,49.
Sounds weird. I could understand Canada grabbing a frequency first, but what weird treaty would allow Canada to kick the US off frequencies that it has been using for years and years?

And if I were WUTV. I'd be happy to have my (mid-channel) frequency dropping from 563 mhz to 473 mhz. Ditto for WNYO, going from 683 to 593. You can get the same coverage area for less power, and energy costs are going up. I was expecting a land-rush into VHF-HI (channels 7..13).

Thirdly has the CRTC said they must vacate above 51.
I expect they will, one of these days.
 

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WUTV and WNYO were not happy to be forced to use a directional signal south and have weaker signals in the GTA then their analog .
 

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First our CRTC blocked several US stations from returning to their analog frequency from Buffalo 29,49.
While I can understand their interim DTV channels (34 and 14) being limited if already used in Canada, how can you claim that Canada blocked their use of channels 49 and 29 after Feb, 2009 after they've been using them in analog mode all these years???
 

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WUTV,WNYO

Our Canadian regulators did not approve their application for returning to their original frequecies.Yes approval is required within the border area.They stated interference problems with cjoh-dt repeater station near Belleville and others.
 

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how can you claim that Canada blocked their use of channels 49 and 29 after Feb, 2009 after they've been using them in analog mode all these years???
I haven't looked at these two specifically, but what both governments are doing in cross border cases is applying the current rules.

Some older licences would never be approved today. When they switch frequencies, they loose their grandfathered status. It is happening both ways across the borders.

It makes sense with scarce frequencies. Better packing of channels means more channels available for everyone. The new emphasis on directional antennas is a big improvement. It means that the signal covers just where it is supposed to. You make not like it, because you lose a US signal, but it probably enables reuse of the channel in Hamilton, then once more, maybe as near as Oshawa, which otherwise would not be possible.

As long as the TV spectrum keeps getting cut back (less channels in total), the heat is on going to be turned up on broadcasters to better control where their signal goes. (Also expect more and steeper antenna tilts). Long term it means less "distant" signals (a side effect will be US channels will become harder to receive in Canada and visa versa). That is years off, and there will be lots of exceptions.
 

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Walter Dnes said:
The US switch to ATSC frees up channels 52..69 (and 2..6 not sure??).
The one thing I don't understand is how the US can use these frequencies in border areas when Canada will still have OTA television on these frequencies. How is upstate NY going to use the frequency of UHF channel 57 when CITY-TV is broadcasting on this frequency just across Lake Ontario and will continue to do so for years?
 

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99gecko said:
^^^ directional transmitters ?
I imagine that these would help to reduce interference on Canadian TV by US non-TV signals but I doubt that CITY would want to stop broadcasting to the south, so it wouldn't stop Canadian signals from leaking into the US.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
CITY already has a directional transmitter.

IMHO, I doubt the CRTC cares too much about CITY reception in NY. But the FCC might!
 

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All the Toronto tv signals are Omni-directional,You can see their patterns with their applications.There is small notch limiting the signal toward Batavia NY for city but Buffalo gets full output.
 
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