Friday, June 1, 2012

Why CBC Should Be Forced To Sell Soon To Be Mothballed Transmitters

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Two months remain until thousands of Canadian cottage owners,RV'ers and many more who by choice or circumstance use antennas to receive TV signals lose access to CBC television when the public broadcaster shuts down analog transmitters as a cost saving measure. 

While its the small towns and rural areas that are served through Analog over the air transmission.  Larger cities such as London, Ontario and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan will lose CBC TV service as well.  No matter if watched by many or just a few over the air TV is an important source of local news, weather and public safety information.  When cable TV infrastructure gets destroyed TV viewers would only have over the air broadcast to turn to.  The malfunctions with the Anik E1 and E2 satellites in 1994 and 1996 proves that satellite TV service cannot provide the reliability that terrestrial over the air broadcast can provide. 

If the CBC had to sell transmitters rather than shut down and dismantle the analog transmitters as they intend to, there could be many interested parties that be willing to take over all those transmitters.  Firstly CBC's competitors from the private sector would be willing to buy some transmitters for the right price to increase their coverage areas.  For example, Shaw can bring back advertising revenue back to Saskatchewan by taking over the transmitters serving Yorkton and North Battleford, Saskatchewan since Yorkton cable subscribers receive Global Winnipeg and North Battleford cable viewers get Global Edmonton.

Rogers Media is another potential beneficiary from having access to CBC analog transmitters as they look to grow their CityTV brand across the country.  Rogers may not seem like a company that would invest in over the air broadcasting given their large cable footprint, however in areas of the country served by other cable operators broadcasting CityTV and Omni over the air would make those stations mandatory to carry on basic cable.

Despite the consolidation in Canadian media in the past decade there are still independent broadcasting companies that still exist, such as Hamilton based Channel Zero owner and operator of CHCH and Newfoundland based NewCap broadcasting that owns and operates several radio stations across Canada and TV stations CITL and CKSA in Lloydminister, these companies could make a bargin basement purchase of transmitters from CBC and create new TV stations with CBC affiliation to reap all that advertising revenue from Hockey Night in Canada.

Demand on the CBC to keep the small town transmitters id coming from the small towns and surrouning areas they serve.  For the local news and public safety information relevant in those areas that the big city TV stations don't carry, it should mandated by the CRTC that those communities should have the opportunity to start their own community TV stations.  Over the air community TV stations would have a positive presence for the economics of small towns by giving small town businesses the opportunity to advertise on television that they wouldn't normally have. 

These ways to save small town over the air TV may be unlikely to actually happen, but do prove that there are ways that over the air television could have a bright future, not the future that the CBC and other public broadcasters are going to create on July 31st.

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