Monday, October 17, 2011

Why Doesn't Bell Media Give a Number 2 About Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec?

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That change in the TV landscape that happened at the end of the summer of 2011, that didn't involve trips to dozens of stores in the mad search for digital converter boxes, the rebranding of the A Channel stations as CTV 2 left what what was a semi autonomous mini network under the ownership of Bell Media into a dumping ground of shows that didn't make it onto the main CTV network. In some areas of the country that didn't have an A Channel station, some shows from America's emerging networks that are not often carried on basic cable such as America's Next Top Model, Nikita, and The Vampire Diaries could be hard to find since, they are aired exclusively on CTV 2.  Since some Cable systems in areas where CTV 2 is not available over the air stick CTV 2 on a digital tier or don't even carry it at all makes access to these shows harder for potential viewers.

In the Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec CTV 2 is not available over the air, but at least CTV 2 that serves Alberta is carried on Shaw, and Telus, the former Alberta Access stations that were converted to CTV 2 but the transmitters were shut down rather than converted to digital.  In Saskatchewan CTV 2 is available on Shaw in Moose Jaw, Swift Current and Assiniboia on basic cable.  On Access CTV 2 is available on the Coast to Coast timeshifting digital tier.  Sasktel Max doesn't offer CTV 2 at all.  In Manitoba Shaw and MTS doesn't carry CTV 2.  Meanwhile Viewers in Outaouais are the only Videotron subscribers that have access to CTV 2 on basic cable since it is also available over the air from the re-broadcast transmitter outside of Ottawa.

Limited access to CTV 2 on cable and telco television services will help drive subscribers to switch Bell's satellite TV services.  Since the CRTC is directive that broadcast distributors that own the television networks not to give their own channels preferential placement would give Bell Media incentive to get CTV 2 on basic packages offered by cable and telco TV services.  The only places that CTV 2 is available on basic cable is in areas that it is also available over the air since cable operators are mandated to carry all over the air stations on the most basic package.  Bell Media can make CTV 2 available over the air without having to build a single transmitter at very little cost.  ATSC offers TV stations the ability to transmit two or more different signals from a single transmitter a feature called mulitcasting.  Through the use of multicasting CTV 2 would be available over the air which would make it mandatory for cable companies to send it on basic. 

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