Program in place to assist those affected by switch to digital signals
TRURO - Free equipment and programming are available for residents affected by the decommissioning of CBC's analog transmitters to allow them to maintain service.
"It boils down essentially to free satellite service, free equipment and free service from Shaw for people who are affected by this measure and by the digital transmission last summer," said CBC spokesperson Angus McKinnon.
"And this is what we're recommending for people who are affected by this, is a program that's called the local television satellite solution."
Colchester County counc. Tom Taggart proposed during last week's meeting the notion of the municipality purchasing decommissioned CBC equipment to enable rural residents affected by the move to continue to receive their television service.
If a community is interested CBC will talk to them about purchasing a transmitter, McKinnon said, but it is not the recommended option.
"They have to understand, and we've explained this now to several communities that have approached us about that possibility, that there are significant costs involved in operating a transmitter, namely maintenance of it, which is becoming increasingly difficult," he said. "Just powering the thing requires a heck of a lot of electricity. And then there's leasing the space on a tower."
There is also the initial cost of purchasing an aging transmitter, he said, along with investment in equipment to downlink the satellite signal because CBC has not only decommissioned it transmitters but also the entire system that feeds those transmitters. "So new equipment would be required to acquire the signal from the satellite."
That would include purchasing a satellite dish and integrated receiver decoder.
"It's not the same signal that's there anymore, it's a digital signal," McKinnon said.
When the CBC switched to digital transmission last summer, it installed two regional transmitters, one in Halifax and one in Charlottetown.
Truro sits at the "cusp" of the boundaries of those signals, which makes it possible to still receive CBC television service with a rooftop antenna, provided you have also purchased a digital converter box.
"It's likely that you can pick it up with a rooftop antenna," McKinnon said. "But rabbit ears inside your house probably are not strong enough."
New model televisions, such as flat-screen versions, already have a digital tuner built in.
McKinnon said about 95 per cent of Canadians now receive television through either cable or satellite and over-the-air reception "is really becoming less and less popular" across the country.
"We're of the view that the issue really is to make that service more affordable because, as I say, it is the way that people by and large receive television in this day and age," he said. "So the solution is not to keep pouring money into over-the-air technology, which is falling by the wayside, but rather to focus on getting cable and satellite rates more affordable so that everyone can get access to it that way."
Under the Shaw program, a satellite dish and receiver and hookup will be provided free of charge, with no obligations, that enable users to receive four or five primary channels, including CBC.
One stipulation, however, is that the recipient has not been a cable or satellite subscriber within the previous 90 days.
For more information, the number for Shaw is 1-888-782-7602 or the CBC information line at 1-888-303-5172.