July 26, 2010

Say Goodbye to your Rabbit Ears TV

CANADA/ENTERTAINMENT - Next year on August 31st 2011 Canadian television broadcasters will switch from analog to 100% digital broadcasts. The rabbit ears on your old TV will become completely obsolete.

Cable and satellite subscribers will not notice the difference, but over one million Canadians still rely on over-the-air television signals to get their news and entertainment will end up seeing nothing but a blank screen.

The Canadian government has no comment on the process, leaving it entirely up to the private sector... and the private sector is under huge pressure from cellphone companies who want access to the valuable radio bandwidth.

For over 70 years Canadians have been able to get television using nothing more than an antenna or "rabbit ears" attached to their TV set. For those willing to pay for cable it will mean a market boost for Rogers.

It would be even nicer if Rogers allowed a basic cable package which was super-cheap. If they don't you can probably expect the number of people who are stealing cable to skyrocket.

According to the CRTC 857,000 Canadians living in major cities still use antennas and rabbit ears to get their television. Add to that the number of Canadians living on farmland or small towns and the number of Canadians hooked on traditional TV is well over a million.

Since cable isn't even available in rural communities they will have to use satellite receivers instead, which will be a boost to that industry.

In the United States the government offered a coupon program to ease the transition for the first 6 months of users switching to cable or satellite. In Canada there will be no coupon program.

There's also likely to be a rush at the very end. Cable and satellite providers won't be able to respond to all the calls they receive. Many people who apparently live in a vacuum won't even know about the change until they turn on their TV one day and its simply static.

EXCEPTION: Depending on where you live you may be able to get a digital air waves converter box, because a few TV stations will continue to broadcast in digital format but the majority of them will be off the air.

Its also possible to get TV online these days, on either the CBC, CTV or Global websites... but download speeds require you have cable internet anyway.

There's also the possibility that afterwards some scofflaw out there might setup their own "Pirate TV station" which broadcasts on a mobile transceiver. The CRTC would have to track down the transmitter and block their transmissions.

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