Keeping analog transmitters on ‘not feasible’

Daniel MacEachern
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Some Eastlink cable customers to lose provincial CBC television

The CBC building on Prince Phillip Drive in St. John’s. — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

The loss of provincial CBC television coverage in rural Newfoundland and Labrador is an unfortunate, but short-term, side effect of the shutdown of its analog transmitters, says a spokesman for the national broadcaster.

Late last week, cable company EastLink said a small minority of its customer base — those whose CBC Newfoundland and Labrador signal comes from analog over-the-air transmitters instead of cable, satellite or digital over-the-air transmission — will lose provincial CBC broadcasting when the broadcaster shuts down its analog transmitters as a cost-cutting measure.

Eastlink said it hoped CBC could delay shutting down the transmitters while it finds a solution for those customers, estimated to number in the thousands — along the Northern Peninsula and the south coast of Labrador — but fewer than two per cent of its customer base.

“It’s not technically feasible to continue operating just a few transmitters,” said CBC spokesman Angus McKinnon from Ottawa.

“The satellite uplink system that feeds all of our transmitters is being decommissioned on July 31, so it’s not really a question of shutting off transmitters one by one and leaving a few up and running here and there.

“It’s really the whole network that’s being shut off at once.”

The affected customers will instead receive CBC Halifax’s television broadcast, which is largely the same as CBC Newfoundland and Labrador’s, but the differences are crucial: provincial news coverage and local programming like Land and Sea, and On Point with David Cochrane.

McKinnon said it’s a temporary situation, as satellite providers, starting in January, will be obliged to provide all local stations to subscribers. EastLink vice-president Dean MacDonald said last week that it’s hoping to find an alternative means, such as a signal from a satellite provider like Shaw.

McKinnon said the decision by the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission to require satellite providers to offer all local stations means EastLink customers will be without Newfoundland and Labrador CBC for a few months at worst.

“Starting in January, that signal will be available from Shaw,” he said.

“So it’s a really unfortunate situation for the people that are going to be adversely affected, but it is a temporary situation, and the good news is, as I say, that the situation will only last four to five months, and they’ll get their signal back as they have it today.”

Twitter: TelegramDaniel

Organizations: CBC, On Point, Canadian Radio Telecommunications Commission

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Northern Peninsula, Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • John
    July 31, 2012 - 23:49

    It wouldn't take 5 months to beam a CBC signal to that area. The problem is Eastlink don't want to lay out some cash to do it. This is not a CBC problem, Eastlink fumbled the ball. Eastlink weren't ready and they knew months ago this was going to happen. There are numerous ways to do this but Eastlink have opted to wait five months.

  • M.J.
    July 31, 2012 - 16:07

    This whole thing has been horribly handled by CBC. It's not just small cities that are losing service. I'm in London, Ontario, the 11th-largest city in Canada, and we're losing service tonight. Regina, Fredericton, St. John's, Halifax, Windsor, Thunder Bay, Lloydminster, and Charlottetown are all keeping service, and those are all smaller cities than London.

  • David
    July 31, 2012 - 10:10

    The primary, fundamental reason fro the existence of the CBC television is to serve all Canadians. Using it's limited-but-still-substantial budget for discretionary things, including producing unwatched, third-rate TV shows, is a very low-priority luxury. The CBC must retain its universal signal, even if that means it does little else. BTW....this is hardly a "free" signal ----- it's part of the enormous cost we are all required to bear for CBC.

    • David
      July 31, 2012 - 10:22

      I'll go further and say that if the CBC brass can come to the decision that serving the Canadians, and especially those in remote locations of the country, is no longer a priority, then the fundamental reason for the existence of a national broadcaster is a every expensive lie. So close it down, and let us all buy satellite service with our tax savings.

  • Brian Williams
    July 31, 2012 - 09:56

    That is a very good point DonII makes, they will roue the day. And lets not forget the CBC and Eastlink customers on the North coast of Labrador (some times called Nunatsiavut), a good percentage of those low income folk only have free to air analogue.

  • Brian Williams
    July 31, 2012 - 09:53

    That is a very good point DonII makes, they will roue the day. And lets not forget the CBC and Eastlink customers on the North coast of Labrador (some times called Nunatsiavut), a good percentage of those low income folk only have free to air analogue.

  • Don II
    July 31, 2012 - 09:11

    Developed nations like Canada and the USA should maintain a functioning EMERGENCY BROADCAST SYSTEM which can broadcast television and radio signals that can be received by analog TV and Radio sets using an actual or improvised antennae.The day will come, perhaps during a major environmental or military emergency when cable systems have been disrupted or destroyed that the CBC and the Government of CANADA will wish that they had not decommissioned the analog transmitter system! This policy is penny wise and pound foolish like everything that Government does.

  • Tim
    July 31, 2012 - 08:11

    What signal is coming from Halifax? If an analog signal is required for these customers to receive CBC(NL) and ALL CBC analog signals are being shut down at the same time, how will this work??? Or is it just Newfoundland analog signals being cut?

    • CB
      July 31, 2012 - 15:55

      The CBC Halifax feed gets here via another source such as satellite, fibre, etc.

  • Mark Noel
    Mark Noel
    July 31, 2012 - 07:33

    I live in St. John's & receive a digital signal from CBC... well, sometimes. Last night, for instance, was too foggy! No big loss, really.