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Dollars and Geography

Over the past few years the scuttlebutt I've heard from folks at Canadian viewer-supported public channels like TVO, SCN, and Knowledge Network is about sticker shock over the costs involved to transition to ATSC. A traditional corporate entity like CTV or Global can budget CAPEX (capital expense) line items and amortize them over years, and look at all the griping those two outfits are making about costs! :) So. by waiting-out the digital transition time clock, the non-profit networks hope to reduce those costs as the availability of ATSC gear and expertise grows in Canada. They of course also want to see what political will there might be to give them financial assistance to make the transition.

This wait-and-see approach also has to do with seeing what the big guys do about actual ATSC coverage over rural areas, which is still up in the air as CTV and Global cry the blues before the CRTC. It would be less hassle for the non-profits to tag onto a shared transmitter site than to have to replace all their own standalone ones. SCN (Saskatchewan), Knowledge (BC) and TVO (Ontario) don't want to have to send teams onto mountain tops, into the muskeg, or on other similar expeditions to swap out their old NTSC broadcast gear.
 

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But most Ontarians (re: TVO) use BDUs so the first step could be to send an HD feed to BDUs. If they are in the process of upgrading their equipment to digital then that should be relatively unexpensive. They can worry about OTA later on.

But given where the world is going you can question whether it still makes sense for them to use OTA transmitters - why not broadcast over the internet? For an educational service, which is much of TVO's mandate, they can provide a better service over the internet as they can provide OnDemand services that you can't do OTA. But that might end up being even more expensive if it really takes off as that may require tons of bandwidth on their end.
 

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You've hit on more reasons why they would be taking a wait-and-see attitude (SCN and Knowledge are also very BDU-based in the urban areas).

These viewer-supported networks exist under different license conditions than commercial broadcasters, so for them to consider abandoning their OTA operations would likely be against their core values and purpose.
 

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These viewer-supported networks exist under different license conditions than commercial broadcasters, so for them to consider abandoning their OTA operations would likely be against their core values and purpose.
But they can argue that they are more than fulfilling these mandates if they can make much (or all) of their content available via the internet so that you can watch what you want whenever you want. That way you are not locked into the tyranny of the schedule.
 

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This has been discussed (here?) before but they really need to change the way something is "broadcast" over the internet, especially HD content. It takes a lot of bandwidth to do so using the technology of today.

It's fundamentally different from transmitting a signal from a single point to hundreds of thousands of passive receivers.
 

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TVO is clearly committed to OTA: They have more OTA transmitters in Ontario than all other stations combined.

Their first step was to get their master control out of the "dark ages" of technology. This will obviously facilitate HD for BDU carriage first. They will then embark on upgrading their broadcast infrastructure.

It really makes no sense to upgrade to digital broadcasting first, when you're not able to take full advantage of the capabilities digital broadcasting has to offer.

From a cost perpective, they'll leverage their not-for-profit status to their benefit.
 

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It really makes no sense to upgrade to digital broadcasting first, when you're not able to take full advantage of the capabilities digital broadcasting has to offer.
Unless you look at it from the perspective of a customer/owner of TVO in Toronto who has gone ATSC-OTA only. The only channel that this person cannot get today is TVO.
 

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Point of clarification - I don't believe SCN has any over-the-air transmitters, and Knowledge Network only has a handful of low-power transmitters in rural BC, not even a transmitter in Vancouver.
 

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@wayne: Of the current 8 digital OTA broadcasters in Toronto, all of them have digital master control setups capable of broadcasting in HD. To my knowledge, not one of them broadcast in digital prior to having digital facilities within their master control/studios.
 

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@Jase88 - Reread post #13 of this thread by user TVO. By my calculation there are 17 days left in the fall of 2009.

@JamesK - in my HTPCs I have ATSC only tuner cards - I don't have NTSC tuning for OTA. I can get TVO via cable but it would be nice to be able to also receive it using my OTA tuner.
 

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@wayne: I'm not sure what point you're attempting to make here. TVO won't be going digital OTA likely until the conversion date.
 

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Jase88: This was part of a note posted earlier by "TVO". What does it mean to you?

Content Distribution
The final pieces of the puzzle address distribution. This includes an upgrade to TVO’s Master Control to enable HDTV broadcast. The digital conversion of TVO’s Master Control is currently underway and will be ready by the fall of 2009. TVO will be available in HD on cable in Ontario and satellite in Canada where capacity can be secured.
 

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The whole pdf is here:
http://www.tvo.org/about/CorporateNews/BD_Feb09_p14_19V2.pdf

Sorry if it has been linked above...I didn't bother going, back to check. Page 18 has that Content Distribution quote. As of this fall, they should be providing a HD signal to cable and sat providers. The next paragraph states the following:
The digital OTA network, meanwhile,
will be put in place by August 2011, in
line with the Canadian broadcasting industry
as a whole. At that point, TVO will
be completely digital “end to end”: from
production to asset management to
delivery.
So looks like August 2011 is when they will officially be broadcasting HD OTA or should I say - digital OTA. Not to say that in the meantime, they may be testing :)
 

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That PDF, from Feb 2009, includes this bit:

Content Distribution
The final pieces of the digital puzzle
will be the upgrades of TVO’s Master
Control and over-the-air (OTA) transmission
network. With the digital conversion
of Master Control operations, TVO in
HD will be available to cable and direct-to-
home satellite subscribers this year.
It looks to me like they're saying HD will be availalbe to BDUs this year. So, this brings me back to my earlier question. Are they on schedule or did Rogers & other BDU not pick up the HD feed? That article also says the digital OTA network will be available by Aug. 2011.
 

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Invite to TVO Personnel

As many of you know, our site's membership includes many broadcasting industry personnel (networks, BDUs, stations, production houses, etc.) from engineers to marketing folks to actors to executives to technicians and more. Many of us have worked in the industry in some form or other in the past.

In your conversations with TVO personnel please extend an invitation to join our forum where their input would be greatly appreciated, and be sure to let them know the info above so that they know that we are not a den of lions... usually. :)
 

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Re: Invite to TVO Personnel

I have already sent an email to both TVO & the person who wrote that article about progress on this. If I get a reply, I'll report back here.
 

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we are not a den of lions... usually.
Only when we are ignored. ;-)

ATSC-OTA only??? Are there any TVs that can receive ATSC but not NTSC?
Maybe not, but in addition to the already mentioned tuner cards, there are many stand-alone ATSC tuners that don't tune NTSC, and DVRs like the DTVpal don't tune NTSC either.

TVO is clearly committed to OTA: They have more OTA transmitters in Ontario than all other stations combined.
Maybe they once were, but I disagree they are currently. The fact they will deliver HD to BDUs almost 2 years before OTA ANYWHERE in Ontario tells me they don't consider OTA viewers important. Last time I checked their facebook page, it didn't even mention OTA was an option.

Correct me if I'm wrong but that vast network of OTA transmitters was set up over 30 years ago when the broadcast landscape was quite different than today.

IMO, if they were committed to OTA, they'd put up ATSC transmitters in Toronto and Ottawa a.s.a.p. (at the very least since there is already an established ATSC presence in both places) and take a wait-and-see with the rest of the province.
 
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