Saturday, May 23, 2009

Let the networks freeze in the dark

You've probably seen the commercials this past week, running on the CTV affiliates as well as on their cable properties (including the Discovery Channel, MTV and even SexTV). The claim that local television could "disappear forever" if they and the other networks in Canada are not allowed to charge cable and satellite companies carriage fees for their "free" programming. In the current recession, the advertising well has certainly dried up. But I think there is another consideration.
We've all been bombarded with the switch to digital television in the States, which will definitely happen on June 12. Canada is scheduled to upgrade from the NTSC to the ATSC standard (the standard used in North America) on August 31, 2011, a little over two years from now. While most major centres are already broadcasting dual signals (and cable companies and the sats have picked up the digital signal), the analogue signals will be turned off in 2011 by law. Simple enough. However, the networks are now crying poor because many of their repeat transmitters -- the low power translators that simulcast main signals -- are in isolated hamlets that can only be reached by plane or boat. If they don't get the money, so the claim goes, much of northern Canada could be "in the dark."
Bunk. The deadline was set a long time ago, and the networks had plenty of time to have the funds to construct the digital transmitters. Besides which, the real issue is not access to television but the ineffective use of the synergies created when newspaper and television properties were allowed to merge and wasted opportunities -- as well as relying on US programming rather than the quirky yet innovative programs Canada was once famous for.

This comes from the same people who oppose Net Neutrality, by the way.
Let the networks freeze in the dark, as far as I care. We're not going to bail them out.

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Skinny Dipper said...

I did a quick calculation and figured out that only 10.42% of weekday programming is local.

Go to my link for more thoughts:

Anonymous said...

Here in Lethbridge, AB, the local CTV has a 30 min news program at 5pm Mon-Fri, no Sat no Sun. It is produced in Calgary with Calgary announcers. The reporters are all students and the only full time on air person is the weather lady. There is no other local programming on this CTV station.