From The Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations (CACTUS)
June 13, 2012
The CBC and Radio-Canada have announced that on July 31, 2012, they will shut off free over-the-air TV service everywhere in Canada except for the 20 largest urban centres. This will not affect residents that watch TV using a cable or satellite service. Anyone outside these areas that watches TV using 'bunny ears' or a rooftop antenna, however, will lose service. The CBC/Radio-Canada are taking this measure in response to recent federal budget cuts and have no plans to renew free over-the-air service in the future.
I am writing to let you know that your community has options. The Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations (CACTUS) is a non-profit association that promotes the value of community media and assists communities in establishing community media centres. We know that often CAP sites are much more than passive Internet portals, and that CAP administrators are often actively involved in improving their community's communications infrastructure.
In the short term, residents who rely on over-the-air CBC/Radio-Canada have two options:
It varies community by community whether:
Each community will have to clarify the situation with respect to its local tower by contacting the CBC at:
In all three cases, communities can request that the CBC donate its analog transmitter, which has no commercial value to anyone else. If a tower is being decommissioned as well, communities should also request the tower. If the tower belongs to a third party, the community would have to take over the lease of the space on the tower from the CBC; the CBC can provide the name of the tower owner.
Generally speaking, the maintenance of an analog transmitter and tower costs between nothing and at worst a few thousand dollars per year... a fraction of what it would cost for the whole community (or even a substantial part) to subscribe to cable or satellite.
THE LONGER TERM OPPORTUNITY
In urban areas, broadcasters have upgraded their over-the-air transmitters to digital. One of the advantages of digital transmitters is that you can "multiplex" together several services using one 'box'. If your community decides to upgrade the CBC/Radio-Canada's analog transmitters to digital, they could be used to:
You could even offer a community mobile or cellular phone service using the tower if such service is unavailable from commercial providers.
For more information about community rebroadcasting options, we have prepared a package of information entitled The Transition to Digital Over-the-Air Television: New Opportunities, on our web site at: http://cactus.independentmedia.ca/node/471
The CRTC is also asking for public comment about what will happen to the CBC's transmitters until June 18th. We encourage you to participate in this process so that the impact on your community is understood by the CBC and the CRTC. For help remitting comments to the CRTC, call us or see www.friends.ca/free_cbc.
Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations (CACTUS)