Communities to lose over-the-air TV

By Geoff Smith
July 4, 2016 - 12:48pm

Residents in a number of Saskatchewan communities could lose their last way to watch television for free.

Bell Media is proposing to discontinue several analogue rebroadcast transmitters – standard-definition signals which can be viewed by anyone with an antenna. Communities affected include Spiritwood, Big River, Melfort, and Nipawin. CTV Yorkton’s Hudson Bay transmitter is also affected, as are several located in southern Saskatchewan.

Bell made the proposal as part of its application to renew its broadcasting licences, which are due to expire Aug. 31, 2017. In its filing to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the company said very few people watch television using an antenna anymore.

“These analog transmitters generate no incremental revenue, attract little to no viewership given the growth of BDU [cable] or DTH [direct-to-home satellite] subscriptions and are costly to maintain, repair, or replace,” Bell said in its application. “In addition, none of the highlighted transmitters offer any programming that differs from the main channels.”

The affected CTV transmitters are the only remaining TV signals available over the air in their communities, since the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation closed all of its analogue television transmitters in 2012.

According to the Bell Media application, CTV intends to continue to operate its North Battleford transmitter, which broadcasts an analogue signal from Saskatoon. CTV and Global maintain digital transmitters in Saskatoon and Regina, as well as the CBC in Regina, which can be received in high-definition using an antenna and TV with a digital tuner.

The CRTC will hold hearings on the licence renewals Nov. 28 to Dec. 2 in Gatineau, Que.

Geoff Smith is battlefordsNOW's News Director, business and agriculture reporter. He can be reached at [email protected] or tweet him @smithco. Concerns regarding this story can be addressed to Geoff at 306-446-6397.

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