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Montreal Gazette: Nice OTA Article

6519 Views 22 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  stampeder
Nice article about DTV and OTA in the Montreal Gazette this morning.
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Nice article in that it brings OTA digital television to the public's attention.
Not-so-nice article in that there are a few inaccuracies/ambiguities/errors.
• Antenna work on Mount Royal hasn't been delayed because of some conspiracy but because of the recession. The work was to be done last year and we all remember what the economic climate of the world was at the time.
• I take exception with the author's characterization that CBMT-DT and CBFT-DT are not available in the vast majority of Montreal homes. I have not heard of any empirical evidence to back that claim. If the author does, I'd love to see it. Propagation models suggest the only part of Montreal without easy access to CBC/Radio-Canada's OTA DTV services is essentially the West Island and points beyond. That's about 250,000 people — less than 10% of the region's total population.
• I also take exception with the author's statement that V and Télé-Quebec have been widely available in the Montreal area. As far as I know, both those stations suffer from the same reception difficulties as CBC/Radio-Canada, although T-Q has the best reception footprint of the bunch (smallest shadow) and V has its Mount Royal shadow mostly projected toward Lac Saint-Louis.
• Related to the last two points … the article gives the impression rabbit ears are sufficient for good OTA DTV reception. Often they are not.
• The completion of Mount Royal renovations won't radically change the availability of OTA digital TV signals — at least not immediately. Especially true if Télé-Québec and V don't come back to the mountain (as they've said).
• CBC might be using 500-watt transmitters with antennas on their building, but that's not the ERP of their signals. For the record, CBMT-DT has a max ERP of some 5.5 kW, while CBFT-DT has a max ERP of 16.6 kW.
• While it's true that CTV and Global have not said they would broadcast before the Aug. 31, 2011, transition deadline, there is no obligation for them do to so. If those stations choose to wait until the last moment to make the switch, it is a legitimate choice — as much as we (viewers) might not like it.
• CTV began broadcasting OTA in HD to Vancouver in 2004 (not 2005) and to Calgary in 2009 (not 2006).
• So … Why are Montrealers waiting so long for decent access to DTV? I can't say, but that is a valid question any part of Canada outside metro Toronto. It's not as if Montreal is alone in being left out. Many of the mandatory markets for DTV conversion currently have *zero* OTA digital TV stations.
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@james57: I agree with you. Heck, I'm usually the first to point out how propagation models are faulty.
That said, no one is going to go around and systematically surveys neighbourhoods using representative sampling and whatnot to ascertain levels of reception and non-reception. And even if it did happen, the survey would only accurate to a point. Just because someone in one spot can't get CBMT-DT doesn't mean his/her neighbour will have the same trouble. Especially true in marginal neighbourhoods.
The next best thing is a propagation model, as flawed as it might be. I'm using the Longley-Rice simulations as provided by TV Fool as a reference. Not perfect, but pretty good.
As for the number of people affected by the Mount Royal shadow, I'd be willing to revise it upward. I might have been low-balling the number of West Island residents. Still, the vast majority should have easier access to OTA DTV. The Mount Royal work will certainly improve reception for CBMT-DT and CBFT-DT.
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On population

Let me do the math correctly, instead of guessing how many CBMT-DT and CBFT-DT viewers are affected by Mount Royal's shadow. Except for Vaudreuil-Dorion, the numbers here are provided by the last census, courtesy of the City of Montreal.
This should be a generous count, as portions of these neighbourhoods have LOS reception of services from the roof of the Maison de Radio-Canada.

CDN/NDG: 164,246
Lachine: 41,391
Lasalle: 74,763
Île Bizard/St-Geneviève: 17,590
Pierrefonds/Roxboro: 65,041
Sud-Ouest: 69,680
Verdun: 66,078
Demerged cities (except Mtl-Est): 229,927
Vaudreuil-Dorion: 27,330 (according to Wikipedia)

TOTAL: 756,046 residents. (So I managed to low-ball the figure over two guesses.) :p

So according to this generous estimate, the total is just under 20% of the population of the Montreal Census Metropolitan Area (3.8+ million in 2006).
That means 80% should have at least a decent shot at receiving services from CBC/Radio-Canada until their Mount Royal antenna upgrades are finished.
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Oh, no worries — none taken! Frank, open discussion is awesome. :)
You're right about the 20% have-nots feeling slighted as progress inches along …
As the author of the Gazette article suggested, there's a bit of a lag in Canada compared to the U.S. when it comes to DTV. There are only so many people in the broadcast engineering business after all …
And the CRTC warned everyone about the risks of dilly-dallying over the DTV transition.
In my humble opinion … Montreal is relatively well off OTA-wise.
There are four local stations transmitting digital TV, plus as many as six distant U.S. stations receivable in the region, with signals from all five big networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS). That's as many as ten physical channels, plus sub-channels.
The only place with better DTV choice is the GTA.
Most places in Canada have *zero* local DTV stations — including more than half of the cities where DTV conversion is mandatory.
Yup. I've had that reaction from co-workers, too.
I find my self having to convince people it's perfectly legal.
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