Monday, July 11, 2011

CBC's switch to DTV transmission will leave some viewers without access

It should read: CBC loses justification for $1.1 Billion in subsidies.

The CBC, however, argues that maintaining over-the-air signals for small numbers of viewers is not an efficient use of the broadcaster’s $1.1-billion parliamentary subsidy.

It is only replacing the transmitters in places where it has a television station that originates programming: London, for example, does not have its own station; the signal is a retransmission from Toronto, while Saint John, although it is the larger city, receives a retransmission of the Fredericton signal. (Moncton, meanwhile, will only keep the French service.) 

I have, in the past, viewed the CBCs mission as one of  ensuring coverage.  If there is one particular segment of the population who are least likely or least able to buy cable or satellite services, it would be someone in a remote locations.  These are also the areas which are likely to request or require specialty services like programming in a different language; Cree, Dene or any of the Inuit languages among them.  It would be because of these services that I would have given CBC a pass because they are currently covering all areas of gathered population with at least a repeater tower, if not a normal one.

That stops now.

By failing to continue to service all areas, regardless of profitability, the CBC loses all moral authority to receive my tax dollars.  The point of the subsidy isn't to ensure service in the most populous areas, the point is to ensure carriage in the least populated areas.  The point is to provide a service for a segment of the population who would have few or no other options. 

The CBC estimates that less than 1 per cent of Canadians will be affected, but critics point out that the public broadcaster has a mandate to reach all Canadians. 
 Let's do the math...  1% of 33,000,000 is 330,000 people.  Regina, Moose Jaw and Weyburn encompass approximately 300,000 people.  Figure a farm trading area within range of approximately 50,000 people.  The 1 transmitter for Saskatchewan will serve 350,000 people in a population of 1 million.  That leaves 700,000 people in Saskatchewan alone who will be no longer receiving a CBC over the air signal or 2% of the population.  The Lloydminster tower may cut into that percentage, but not by much.  In essence, Saskatchewan alone proves the CBCs numbers wrong. 

I could go through all the provinces and make an estimate of what isn't going to be covered, but I will make a guess that you will see between 25% and 40% of the population no longer serviced by the CBC without cable or satellite services.

He said going digital in all mandatory markets would cost the CBC another $50-million, but he hopes the broadcaster might work out a plan with the CRTC to keep analog transmitters running. However, CRTC spokesman Denis Carmel said the CBC has not made any applications to maintain analog signals.
Moreover, the CBC isn't even providing digital in all mandatory markets.  I don't need a dictionary to tell me that mandatory means MUST.

The complaint with the cost of replacing all the transmitters is a strawman.  The United States shut down all high powered analog TV signals over 2 years ago.  They were one of the last of the completed conversion nations, the rest having made the conversion within the last decade.  To be quite frank, the CBC could have been chipping away at the conversion over the last decade in order to get it done on time and less disruptively than they are doing now.

In short, if the CBC isn't going to service all of the population, then they shouldn't receive subsidies from the population.

1 comment:

  1. For those who lose the CBC signal I have this to say; "Lucky Buggers"!