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*Gulp*

Just saw this come in over the CRTC's Twitter account. Look at this CRTC proposal in the so-called "working document" for stage 3 of TalkTV:

Licensing regime for over-the-air stations

Proposal

Local stations would be permitted to shut down transmitters.
Service areas would be designated according to the contours of the former transmitter.

BDUs would not be required to pay a wholesale fee for these local stations.
Local stations without transmitters would continue to be allowed to share CPE and PNI within the same licence group.

Local stations without transmitters would continue to be distributed on the basic service and be subject to the current weekly local programming requirements.

What this Means for Canadians

Local stations would no longer have to operate transmitters. This would reduce some costs for struggling local stations so that they can continue to offer Canadians a local presence in their communities.

Link to CRTC working Document

Not sure if this being discussed elsewhere in the DHC site but this is definitely of interest to most people in this forum.

Link to Leave Comments for the CRTC (you will need to sign-in or register)
http://consultation.crtc.gc.ca/en/consultation/19/fostering-local-and-canadian-programming
 

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Just saw the press release on Canada News Wire.

Hopefully, Canadians will respond by September 19th.

That said, my understanding was that the CRTC had tremendous pressure from Rogers -- whose Cable business is just about kaput -- according to many insiders. Media streaming devices are currently "in vogue" -- with new boxes being continually being developed, as we speak to tap into "international sporting events" (IPTV) and other International Programs.

Mobile and Satellite should also remain "in focus".
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Streaming isn't all its cracked up to be, CRTC

Hello HDTV Junkee,

What the CRTC (and most Canadians) forget are there are three inherent problems with streaming as mentioned by several experts:

1) The internet-only cordutting model holds as long as internet prices and caps remain reasonable. If not, it becomes more expensive than pay TV services. Cable once upon a time was only $3 a month.

2) Streaming services are becoming more fractional, requiring more subscriptions for the legal cordcutter. Certain shows and live sports streams are now becoming exclusive to Hulu, Amazon, Netflix and such. It will only get worse as more players enter the field, meaning users will need multiple subscriptions to watch everything they want.

3) Streamers have taken hits in the past year with certain services being throttled by their ISP (Comcast), other services raising prices (Netflix) and some being completely shutdown by lawsuits (Aereo). Will probably get worse as BDUs move into providing streaming services.


That's why I like my simple and efficient OTA :(
 

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this would reduce some costs for struggling local stations
Wow, is that ever an oversimplified statement. :eek:

How 'bout Bell/Rogers/Shaw show some hard numbers that prove OTA transmitters are oh-so-expensive to operate; that'll never happen since their underlying agenda is to stop providing free TV.
Consider that likely every OTA TV transmitter tower across Canada is leased out to multiple third-party tenants, and their owners (99% of the time the usual Robellus suspects) are surely breaking even, if not generating healthy profits, from these sites. What do our oligopolistic media corporations plan on doing, selling all their three year old ATSC transmitters to Americans, while creating a unique "zero-OTA" environment north of the border? I find it infuriating that the CRTC would even discuss something so shortsighted. :mad:
 

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Intervene

As always the big cable/satellite/ISP providers want all Canadians to guarantee them a living despite their flawed business models. Cord-cutting is what is at stake here.

Over the years, many of us from the OTA Forum have intervened in CRTC hearings and discussions. Discussing the situation here in this thread is one thing, but it is not enough. Take the time to lodge a proper contribution to the CRTC discussions thusly:
Dates for filing documents after the public hearing

During the public hearing, the Commission may accept or require undertakings by appearing parties to file additional material. Parties must file such material by 19 September 2014, the last day of the hearing, by 5 p.m. Vancouver time.

The Commission will also provide parties that have filed interventions to this proceeding with the opportunity to file final written submissions. Such submissions must be limited to comments on the working document set out below, submissions made during the online discussion forum, and submissions made during the public hearing. Final submissions must not exceed 15 pages, including an executive summary, and be filed no later than 3 October 2014.
Be sure to use a spell checker and to have someone proofread your intervention for clarity. You can use either official language. Make your points clearly and respectfully so that your intervention is regarded seriously.
 

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And it's not like we'll get fair and accurate mainstream reporting of this when the anchors always have to lead these stories with "BIG TELECOM, which owns this station, told the CRTC that shutting down OTA will help consumers..."

Now to turn the navel gaze egocentric: haven't had a chance to read all the docs yet, but when they talk about allowing stations to nix transmitters, is that just for smaller population centres or are Toronto and Montreal included too?
 

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@CamDAB,

How so?

@everyone...

I'd like to think there'd be a public safety challenge as well. How many perhaps tried OTA for the first time when the Toronto ice storm knocked out their Bell and Rogers?
 

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A long read but raises some very interesting points

This was submitted to the CRTC by the author of Shut off: the Canadian Digital Television Transition:

Introduction

1. First, I would like to commend the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission for launching this discussion with the Canadian public on the future of Canadian television. We are clearly at a crossroads in television, and regulation that has served the country for decades should be reassessed. The Canadian public should have a voice in the future of its own system and the CRTC is acting in the public interest by issuing this call for comments.


2. Given the broad scope of this call for comments, I had to restrict myself to two of the questions put forth in 2014-190:
Q24. Is regulatory intervention necessary to maintain access to local television stations and, if so, how could this best be achieved? Given that the vast majority of Canadians receive television services through a cable or satellite subscription, are there compelling reasons to maintain and support OTA transmission? Would the discontinuation of OTA transmission allow local television stations to devote more resources to programming? If the Commission determines that OTA transmission should no longer be required, under what timeframe should this be implemented?
And Q47. Are measures, such as imposing distribution requirements, undue preference provisions or other measures such as those set out in the VI Code, needed to ensure the availability of non-vertically integrated programming sources and BDUs in the future?

My response

3. The majority of my response will address the area of over-the-air (OTA) television and the question: are there compelling reasons to maintain and support OTA transmission? My response is yes, there are clear and compelling reasons to maintain and expand OTA services for the foreseeable future.

4. OTA plays a diminished but still significant roll in the wider Canadian broadcasting system. Despite what is written in paragraph 64 of 2014-190, OTA television is not “free”; it is advertising-supported. The viewer “pays” by watching the commercials. It is, however, freely accessible and it is here that it clearly differentiates from services provided by BDUs. OTA is accessible by all via a simple antenna, to discontinue the OTA service places the entire system within the hands of private BDU providers. There is clearly a place for subscription-based television in Canada but a healthy system would offer options.

5. The most recent study from Canadian Media Research notes “1 in 10 still rely upon off-air reception to watch CBC, CTV, etc., but also that some 1 in 3 Canadians report that they have at least 1 TV not connected to cable or satellite” (Canadian Media Research Inc., 2012). That is clearly too high a number to have disengaged from the Canadian system.

6. I found it interesting that in Rogers’ June 2014 press release for its newly acquired 2014-2015 NHL hockey schedule, the first sentence promoted “double the number of games on free over-the-air TV” (Sportsnet, 2014). Clearly, Rogers still sees some value in the OTA market.

7. My research also demonstrates how national numbers for OTA reception are misleading: regional and local elements must be considered. 2006 data showed numbers can be quite high in Quebec (14.3%) and low in areas like Newfoundland (3.2%) (Canadian Media Research Inc., Sept 2006). Cities such as Windsor have OTA viewership over 20%. Clearly the majority of Canadians prefer the services offered by BDUs, but there is still a sufficient viewership of OTA to merit continuing the service.

8. A 2009 study from the Strategic Council found that for people in areas of Canada that were faced with losing the OTA signal in 2011, the most popular response when ask what they would do was that they would go without television altogether (The Strategic Council, 2009). The data in 2014-190 supports this position noting increasing Canadians are opting out of the system entirely (par 29). To discontinue OTA distribution would be to further remove a substantial sector of the population from the broadcasting system that has been, in theory and in law, designed to serve the wider public interest.

9. As I have documented in my book, Shut Off: the Canadian Digital Television Transition, low OTA audience numbers in Canadian cannot be considered a simple byproduct of changing technology (Taylor, 2013). In fact, the ATSC standard used in Canadian digital television was designed to enhance the OTA signal, offering superior HD signals and the ability to multicast signals for greater viewer choice.

10. The incomplete digital switchover in Canada was the result of political indifference and corporate consolidation: most OTA broadcasters are owned by companies whose primary revenue source is distribution, not broadcasting. There was clear economic incentive to minimize investment in OTA services to encourage viewers to subscribe to more lucrative BDU packages. It is my experience that most Canadians remain uninformed that OTA broadcasts are even an option, despite their availability in most urban centres. A Globe and Mail editorial in March 2012 incorrectly described the “ending of the rabbit-ears TV era,” despite the continued availability of over-the-air signals in many Canadian cities (Editorial, 16 March, 2012).

11. Certainly the days when OTA was the primary source of television is gone; however, digital OTA is not yesterday’s technology. A stronger OTA sector increases viewer choice. There is a clear way to enhance broadcasting competition via OTA multicast.

12. In the United States, OTA broadcasting has found a growing and significant audience and ownership in a population that has traditionally found itself underrepresented in mainstream television. The National Association of Broadcasters reports in 2013 that “The number of African-American households depending solely on broadcast TV delivered over-the-air increased to 22 percent in 2013 (up from 12 percent in 2010) “ (National Association of Broadcasters, 2013). Of those that switched from cable to OTA, over 70% claimed cost was the factor. To discontinue OTA broadcasts in America would clearly disenfranchise the poor. The same can be said for Canada where BDU growth has stagnated and declined for the first time as noted in paragraph 29 of 2014-190.

13. Growth in OTA viewership among African Americans has coincided with an expansion of African American broadcasters via multicasting signals. Bounce TV and the Soul of the South Network are examples of independent broadcasters that have seen substantial growth broadcasting on sub channels offered by licensed OTA broadcasters. These broadcasters are now available in cities across the United States. With the notable exception of Southshore Broadcasting in Leamington, Ontario, the multicasting option remains underexplored in Canada, despite that being seen as a key benefit of the ATSC digital broadcasting standard adopted by Canada. Creating a more vibrant OTA sector via multicasting could assist in “maximizing choice and flexibility” (par 40) instead of trapping the Canadian public into BDU contracts with little viable alternatives. Using sub-channels as avenues for new broadcasters as per the American model could also address question 47 of 2014-190 regarding “availability of non-vertically integrated programming sources”.

14. The other reason to advocate for multicasting television is that OTA broadcasting, as currently done in Canada, is a terribly inefficient use of valuable public spectrum. A single HD broadcast signal can be compressed and leave room for two or three more services per broadcast license. Quite simply, broadcasters do not require the full 6 MHz currently assigned. Industry Canada has introduced a “use it or lose it” policy for wireless broadband spectrum, perhaps it is time for the CRTC to consider this in OTA broadcasting so Canadians get maximum value for use of the public airwaves.

15. The common response to defense of OTA is that Canadians are increasingly watching TV online now. While online viewing is undeniably growing and it is clearly the future of distribution, the audience data and network architecture simply do not support this theory right now. As noted in table 6.1.2 of the 2013 Communications Monitoring Report, a medium quality Netflix download stream will hit a 20 GB monthly data cap in 19 hours and CBC television streaming in 6.8 – 17 hours. Canadians average over 29 hours of television viewing a week, so online or over-the-top is not yet an adequate replacement. Fibre to the home would certainly change this picture but Canada does not appear to be at that juncture in its infrastructure for the foreseeable future.

16. Shutting down OTA transmitters would also run contradictory to the current policy of the Broadcasting Act which states that

a. (b) the Canadian broadcasting system, operating primarily in the English and French languages and comprising public, private and community elements, makes use of radio frequencies that are public property and provides, through its programming, a public service essential to the maintenance and enhancement of national identity and cultural sovereignty;

17. It is the duty of the CRTC to uphold the policies of the Broadcasting Act. In its current form the Act clearly states the system makes use of radio frequencies and is a public service.

18. I am a strong advocate of OTA broadcasting; however the current system is weak. If Canada is not going to take efforts to maximize the use of OTA spectrum, then it might be better used as a source of unlicensed spectrum access in coordination with Industry Canada. This is not my preference, but the current OTA regime, aside from poorly serving Canadians, is an inefficient use of the spectrum resource. I strong doubt broadcaster would be willing to forfeit 6MHz of prime spectrum. Major broadcasters are sitting on valuable spectrum and offering little to Canadians in return – the status quo cannot continue.

19. Again, OTA broadcasting is not, nor has it ever been, free.






Summary Points:

20. Why we should not discontinue OTA:
 It would entrench the already disproportionate power of BDUs within the Canadian system.
 Internet architecture has not yet matured to the point where it can replace OTA, which has no data cap.
 Canadian OTA has never actually utilized the true potentials of digital OTA via multicasting. A fully multicast digital signal (offering 3-4 broadcast services per 6 MHz license) would provide real competition to BDUs in urban markets, thereby maximizing choice.
 It would disenfranchise the poor, who are switching to a more vibrant OTA sector in the U.S., as noted in the NAB study.
 It is clearly contrary to the Broadcasting Act

21. What should be done:

 Enforce multicasting so Canadians get better value for the free use of spectrum by broadcasters. In order to offer choice outside vertically integrated companies, promote use of secondary signals by independent broadcasters when possible.
 Consider a second category of license for broadcasters who do not wish to multicast that does not grant them a full 6 MHz.

22. The OTA television sector could be far more vibrant and useful, but not without regulatory guidance from the CRTC. I thank the CRTC for allowing Canadians to express their visions for the future of Canadian television.
 

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Maybe I should have said Charter challenge based on equality.

Rural folks that now have free service would need to pay for satellite service.
(Don't know if Shaw Direct is still doing the free service anymore)

Suburban apartments in areas where BDU's have deemed the cost outlay is too high for installs and renters can use indoor antennas for OTA reception. They would loose service completely.

Narrow criteria I know, but there are pockets of no BDU service.

The telco wireless route is both expensive and due to current system topology, doesn't have the bandwidth to carry HD.

There is talk of "Mobile TV" Is that cell carrier delivered or OTA? If OTA we're back to square one.... :) Cell entails costs...

Cameron
 

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@camDAB,

Good point. I'm going to have to carve some time out of my TIFF prep schedule to write an intervention to the CRTC.

I already tweeted to one production peep that many OTAers wouldn't subscribe to even a "low cost" package. I myself would just turn and tune my antenna to pick up US OTA even more.
 

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Its about sovereignty

Another point... Hey CRTC, let's say you go with what they want and eliminate OTA transmitters. Guess which big, rich, massive country nearby will jump in to grab Canadian advertising dollars due to an abundance of eager OTA viewers here? Starts with "United" and ends with "America". ;) Wouldn't that be special, an entire OTA spectrum in Canada's border areas filled with American broadcasters blasting their signals into our freshly cleared TV bands.
 

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More food for thought

Further to that last point of mine, let's bear in mind that Industry Canada regulates border-area OTA transmitters in concert with the USA's FCC. Their interactions are always codified in regularly negotiated MOUs and LOUs (Memoranda and Letters Of Understanding, respectively). So, if Canada was to eliminate OTA transmitters it would not only be abrogating but voiding those MOUs and LOUs, which would effectively give the Americans the green light to do as they please with the OTA spectrum. Not only would the effect be the ceding of the spectrum, but also the ceding of the marketplace, and thus sovereignty.

If this was to happen, savvy Canadian entrepreneurs with local American ownership groups would be wise to crowd border areas with US-based OTA stations that exist almost exclusively to serve the Canadian border-area populace left rejected by the CRTC. Applicants could request all the torch-level ERP and huge coverage lobes over southern Canada they want since there would be no Canadian stations nor regulators to worry about. Would the FCC allow the CRTC to govern US border stations, especially when the CRTC has no more left of its own? Of course not.

The CRTC would be left toothless to enforce any Canadian regulations upon such US-based stations. As well, all other Canadians would of course be chumped out of what is historically theirs to receive with an antenna.
 

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CRTC - Canadian Radio-Television Censor...

I wouldn't be too quick making them assumptions relative to cross-border regulation...
Lack of a Canadian Broadcast presence in the upper UHF Band or otherwise would just force American Broadcasters much more grief, trying to coordinate with much much lower power Canadian usage of the same spectrum. And Canadian users of said spectrum would be constantly fighting interference problems caused by the ever changing tropo conditions... Unless all American stations were forced to face the other direction pattern wise... Whatever happens, highly doubt your spectrum would be silent to the point no regulation was required...
 

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I'm kinda tired of this constant threat to OTA by the BDUs, and the Telecoms.
I've reached a point of just let them shut down their stations. Somebody else will come in and fill the void.

Better yet, if they shutdown them down, we'll all probably get better channel reception from US border stations.

Enough is enough.

If the CRTC doesn't believe that OTA is part of National Security and Public Safety access, then we have finally reached a point for the federal government to shutdown the CRTC, and just simply have Industry Canada license stations.

The CRTC allowed these handful of groups to buy up just about everything in the Industry, and now we have reached what looks to be the end game.
The CRTC has propped up this broken business model designed to protect Canadian Broadcaster & Cablecasters, at the expense of consumers. This crazy bureaucratic social engineering of the countries communications systems goes against human nature. NO competition means laziness, mediocrity, over priced crap services.

They can kill OTA in Canada, but I will not sign up for any BDU service. I would rather watch US border stations, and to hell with Canadian local, and National news issues.

Besides anyway, whenever we seem to have bad weather in the area, the US stations always run a warning crawl. The Canadian stations can't even do that to warn their viewers. Well then, shutdown, get lost, you have already proven your lack of worth to the Canadian consumer.
 

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Say Cdn OTA does disappear...is there any reason why, say, WBXZ can't switch from being a low-power station? I can see some Toronto advertisers/groups would toss some cash Buffalo's way as Stampeder suggested.
 

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I know this is bad news for a lot of OTA'ers and I should be patriotic, but I have to confess our family seldom views Canadian OTA stations. 95 percent of our viewing habits are U.S. stations and mostly PBS. I will miss the occasional program on TVO, and since CBC shut down the London transmitter, we really don't miss CBC programming.

Having said that, I do feel Canadian OTA stations have a role to fill to convey public service announcements like weather warnings, peace time civil emergencies, school closures etc. and I wish some of the Canadian OTA stations would have a weather channel like WKYC 3-2 in Cleveland does.

I will send a submission to CRTC voicing my objection to this, but I won't be surprised if this motion survives.
 
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