Tuesday, June 12, 2007

BITCHSLAP!

I have to preface this by saying that perhaps I've been overly critical of the CRTC in my past postings on this blog and I should apologize, they seem to have actually been making decisions in the best interest of all Canadians lately. At least the last two decisions that affect me, cellular number portability, and digital OTA (over the air) broadcasting.

A couple weeks back the CRTC finally released the results of their study on the next phase of OTA broadcasting in Canada. (located here: http://www.crtc.gc.ca/archive/ENG/Notices/2007/pb2007-53.htm). I was shocked and actually relieved to take note that they have introduced a cutoff date of August 31, 2011 for requiring a Digital signal to receive over the air broadcasts. The shocking parts, in bullet point form below:

  • The Commission will not adopt a fee for the carriage of OTA television stations by broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs).
What does this mean? It means that you don't have to pay an extra fee to get OTA stations on cable or satellite. Which is quite sensible. These stations have for years rebroadcasted american entertainment with little effort to increase Canadian entertainment (Which by the success of shows like Trailer Park Boys and Corner Gas, we as an audience clearly desire.. not artsy CBC Dramas about Pierre Trudeau, though I suppose theres an audience for everything somewhere).. Granted I wasn't really AGAINST the idea of the Cable company paying carriage fees per se, but considering everything it just doesn't seem worth the bother, more to the point, I don't trust the OTA broadcasters are telling the truth that they need the money. It's just a cash grab pure and simple.
  • The Commission will increase the number of advertising minutes that OTA television stations may broadcast. Specifically, it will increase the 12 minute per hour limit on traditional advertising to 14 minutes per hour in peak viewing periods (7 p.m. to 11 p.m.) effective 1 September 2007. The limit will be increased to 15 minutes per hour for all viewing periods effective 1 September 2008, and eliminated altogether as of 1 September 2009.
This one I'm surprised by. Certainly there will be some increased costs for going to digital, nevermind HDTV, in the near future, but advertising is moving away from the 30 second spot format in my opinion, and going back to product placement and such. That might be why they plan to get rid of the limit by 2009, though I'm not fully grasping this. But whatever, advertising pays the bills for OTA TV, let them do what they want as long as its not overkill. Certainly its fair business.
  • Television licensees will be authorized to broadcast only digital OTA signals after 31 August 2011, although exceptions may be made in northern and remote communities where analog transmissions will not cause interference.
EXCELLENT (if only 2 years later than I would have hoped for) Personally, it makes sense. Northern communities don't need to rush to switch over to digital broadcasting. Frankly,
  • The Commission will examine Canadian programming expenditure plans and exhibition commitments by licensees at the time of licence renewal.
Yes Yes, the commission will do lots of boring things.

Anyways, its Nice, and I was going to go off on a rant about the whole thing, but for once I'll keep things relatively short and say, thanks for doing something right, CRTC, this and actually making Bell Globalmedia follow the law were very heartwarming. Keep it up.

/as an aside, local AM talk station CJOB wants an FM antenna to rebroadcast, which I think is a good idea, because many MP3 players don't have AM but include FM.. and a lot of their audience is missing out as a result. Good luck with that, CJOB.

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