CBC's analog transmitter shutdown "a sad chapter in Canada's digital transition"
July 30, 2012
OTTAWA – Industry stakeholders are lamenting the anticipated shutdown of 623 CBC and Radio-Canada analog transmitters on Tuesday, a move that ends free access to the national broadcaster over the air in hundreds of small Canadian cities, towns and rural areas.
Despite the protests of more than 2,000 Canadians and a proposal by the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations (CACTUS) on how the equipment could be repurposed, the CRTC approved CBC/Radio-Canada’s plan to mothball the transmitters and repeaters with no conditions and no requirement to reach out to the affected communities.
"The CBC-TV and Radio-Canada analog transmitter shutdown is a sad chapter in Canada's digital transition," said Karen Wirsig of the Canadian Media Guild, in a statement. "We understand that CBC is in a financial bind with $155 million in cuts required by 2015. Something had to give. Evidently infrastructure outside of major cities is not a priority for the federal government, despite rhetoric about the digital economy."
"The CBC is behaving as if it were a commercial broadcaster, rather than a public broadcaster”, added Ian Morrison, spokesperson for Friends of Canadian Broadcasting. “You need only contrast CBC's stance with that of TVO to underline this failure."
(Ed note: TVO is also shutting down over-the-air transmission sites on July 31, but has contacted most of the communities involved to offer its transmission towers for free).
CACTUS spokesperson Catherine Edwards called CBC’s move “a major public policy failure".
"The federal government seems to be doing everything it can to cripple the national broadcaster and turn it into a pay specialty service, available to well-heeled Canadians in big cities", she said. "Everyone has known that the digital transition was coming for two decades. It's supposed to increase our communications services, yet no one would step up to the plate and take leadership to make sure that neither rural Canada nor our national public broadcaster would be crippled: not Heritage, not the CRTC, not the CBC, and certainly not the federal government."
Noting that the decommissioning process will likely take several months, Edwards urged the affected communities to approach the CBC about maintaining their own transmitters and towers.
- Lesley Hunter