Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Winnipeg's future Digital TV landscape

Earlier this month Industry Canada released the digital TV Post-Transition Allotment Plan. This plan rearranges the locally broadcast television spectrum in preparation for the switch from Analog broadcasting to Digital. The official switchover to complete digital is 2011, therefore any digital broadcasts between now and then will be in a transitional broadcast over the UHF band, after which it will revert to the post transition allotment.

This is pretty simple, as there aren't that many broadcast channels covering Winnipeg anyways.

Unfortunately, none of the local stations has committed to an actual DATE where they will start broadcasting in digital. It'd be nice to have at least one commit to it happening earlier rather than later digital broadcast. As it is, the ATSC tuner on my HDTV is not being used. Which is a complete waste, as I generally don't need to watch anything but local channels anyways (anything I want to see is usually on one of the 5 local channels, they offer pretty good programming)

Lets start with CBC. They're already broadcasting digital over the air in some cities like Toronto and Vancouver but they as yet haven't been able to give an approximate date as to when they will start showing us Hockey Night in Canada in HDTV over the air. CBC is currently on Channel 6 (if you're using rabbit ears or an antenna), and is generally the second worst for reception in the area of the city I live in. Which I find perplexing but nevermind that. If they started broadcasting digital tomorrow, their temporary digital channel will be channel 27 in the UHF spectrum. The strange thing is, they will keep that UHF placement even after the final 2011 cutoff for analog has passed. Now I find that equally odd, as you would think they would get a VHF channel being as the CBC is supposed to be the most accessible channel for Canadians. Heck a lot of Canadian culture bleeds over the borders so that Americans in many states pick up the CBC, but not from Winnipeg they won't. I wonder why. I'll have to ask them.

Anyways, next is CTV, which I will watch for the occasional news program, or the fact that they air the daily show and the colbert report at midnight after the news. CTV is currently on Analog channel 7. When they put up a digital transmission between now and 2011, their temporary placement will be on channel 46. Which seems like a total arbitrary number but I digress, after the transition they will revert back to channel 7, which means they will probably remain the easiest to receive digital channel. Sounds good. They also have no announced set date to offer digital over the air broadcasts to Winnipeg yet. Although all they really need is the antenna, as their whole station is set up for digital when they moved downtown.

Next we have Global, AKA CKND-TV. You know, the one the Aspers own. They are on Channel 9, and will be temporarily on channel 28 from the time they start digitally broadcasting until 2011, after which time they will switch back to channel 9. So they also have a good placement and good reception. I rarely watch Global for anything other than the Simpsons, so I'm not fussed too much about it, but it'd be nice if they actually produced something worth watching one of these days. CTV has got a good mix of Canadian shows that suppliment the American ones they have, which has worked out well for that station. CBC has improved a lot as well, despite their obvious and blatant and maybe even sexist (counter mandate) desire to market and produce shows only to 30 year old women. Global probably still airs that stupid show about the people talking on trains in Toronto.

Now theres one that doesn't make sense to me, its currently on channel 35. I think its called JoyTV, but it used to be OMNI. The strange thing is that they're listed as switching to channel 2 for the digital switchover. Now, you usually see the VHF channels switch to UHF for the switchover, but this one has it switching the opposite way. I'm tempted to believe this is a typo or something, or someone playing a prank, because why would they broadcast on channel 2 during the digital transition? In any case, after 2011 they are going to be on channel 35 again. Either way, It's all full house and growing pains and happy days reruns. Which is actually not bad when nothing else is on.

Theres also CBWFT, le station francais du CBC. Which from the previous sentence you should be able to deduce I don't really watch. Although it'd be cool if they offered optional english subtitles for everything in digital. Then I'd watch it! Anyways, It's currently on channel 3, and it offers pretty good reception despite the fact that its the channel I care least about. They will be switching to the UHF channel 51 both for the transition and forevermore afterwards. Again, its odd that they chose to go UHF only. Well, less odd because the french coverage in Manitoba isn't as large as in other places.

So wait, whats missing? Oh yes. There is no allotment for CITY-TV in Winnipeg to switch to Digital. CITY TV is owned by Bell Globalmedia who also owns CTV. CTV has an allotment, why doesn't CITY?

Currently on Channel 13, and the most difficult channel for me to receive reception on, it offers some decent programming including last I checked the tonight show and late night with conan o'brien. This used to be 13 MTN and A-Channel. Now, is bell globalmedia just going to close up shop on this channel? Was it just an extra channel they got when they purchased all those other channels? If they're just going to shut it down, why didn't they sell it off? I'm a little bit concerned about this omission. Theoretically even if they didn't build a tower for it and instead chose to broadcast it as an SD digital sub channel off of CTV's antenna, you'd think they'd at least have something said. Do the people still working there know that they've got a couple years left until the plug is pulled? Dunno.

One thing I'd like is if Environment Canada operated on a sub-channel in SD digital off of someones tower. That'd be useful.

Theres also KNRR, which is an American channel. Now, I have no idea whats going on with them. They were on channel 12 and I used to be able to receive them before the flood of 96, but since then nothing. I always liked that channel, They were supposed to switch over in February but Obama moved the cutoff to June so who knows. Will they broadcast into Winnipeg? God I hope so, they'd probably be the first, and the Canadian channels need a kick in the butt to start the switchover. Where are the most digital channels? Oddly enough, in the cities with the greatest American presence. So please, company that owns KNRR Fox 12, blast that thing into Winnipeg And I'll watch the hell out of it.

All that said, I'm going to be watching the Superbowl on an American HDTV feed next week to see the commercials. And you know what? I have every moral right to, because the Canadian channels aren't broadcast in HDTV. Thus no reason for Shawcable to sim-sub them.

In any case, this is what the post 2011 digital TV winnipeg will look like
7 - CTV
9 - Global
12 - MAYBE KNRR
27 - CBC
35 - Joy TV
51 - CBWFT

while during the transition period it will be
12 - MAYBE KNRR
27 - CBC
28 - Global
2? - Joy TV
46 - CTV
51 - CBWFT

depending on when these organizations get their act together and announce when they will offer HDTV/Digital over the air broadcasting.

One last thing to note, I find it odd that CBC didn't take channels 8, 10, 11, or 13 in the VHF spectrum. What's that about?

the full spectrum allotment can be found here

** UPDATE (I'M AN IDIOT) **

CITY TV, Channel 13 currently, is not owned by CTV / Bell globalmedia, but by Rogers, who owns all the CITY channels. While there is something to be said about there being so few cell phone carriers/media companies in Canada that its easy to confuse the issue, I still expect more out of myself when it comes to using brainpower. CHMI is based out of Portage La Prairie, which I forget sometimes as they have a building at the forks market in Winnipeg, and I thought they moved the station to Winnipeg by now. But all the same, their plan is to use channel 32 for temporary transitional broadcast in digital, then after 2011 to switch back to 13, which makes sense. It would have helped if they respond to emails, but whatever.

the post transitional winnipeg OTA broadcast spectrum will be organized thusly:

7 - CTV
9 - Global
12 - MAYBE KNRR
13 - City TV
27 - CBC
35 - Joy TV
51 - CBWFT

which is pretty good. I still think CBC should be broadcast at a higher power and on VHF, so that it can reach into the USA. I think border living Americans appreciate the channel more than most Canadians sometimes, so it'd be nice to see.


** UPDATE **

I wrote a follow-up article with one year to go before the deadline for conversion in August 2010, link is here. Probably unlikely to change much, aside from the strange and nonsensical CBC/CBWFT "plan" for Winnipeg.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Why don't I go to more sporting events?

Like Hockey games or whatever?

THAT IS A VERY GOOD QUESTION.

Taking hockey for an example, whenever I go they always lose. Same with Football or whatever. It's infuriating. Why do they always lose when I go? It can't just be statistics. It is God telling me I've wasted my money and time attending this hockey game.

Also, there are more productive and cheaper things I can do with my time. I can stay home and play a video game or watch TV or eat something that isn't overpriced. What is the point of spending a ton of money to watch a useless and meaningless game?

Also I hate sports. Because I have no talent, so I have no sentimental attachment to the game.

But the MAIN reason I hate attending sporting events is that they start playing songs like "We will rock you" and then CUT THE DAMN SONG OFF. They have NEVER finished that damn song when they started playing it. WHY PLAY THE SONG IF YOU DON'T WANT TO FINISH IT? WHY? And then to cut off Stompin' Tom's Hockey Song. What happens in the third period? What if he's changed the lyrics?!? What if Bobby doesn't score? WE'LL NEVER KNOW!!

But that's not even the tip of the iceberg. They play CRAP songs like Cotton Eye Joe. I HATE THAT FUCKING SONG. I HATE IT. I HATE IT I HATE IT HATE IT.

Also with Football games, theres always a lot of crap security people who think they're important who I just want to stab in the face. Right in the face. Yeah. Think you're secure now, you bastards? That's what I thought!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The new Google icon

IS CRAP.

It looks like the flag of some long forgotten African nation.. Googbabwe. Googambique. ugh. Hideous.



Look at that crap!

Crappy google quote of the day