Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Canada goes digital: time to analog out

August 31 is D-Day in Canada--as in Digital TV Transition day. It's the last day you're supposed to be able to watch over-the-air broadcasts through an old school antenna.
Really, if you haven't addressed this by now, well, hate to break it to you but the Dumont network is no longer carrying Gleason.
At any rate, not sure this affects anybody reading this. If you've got the Internet, you gotta be off the friggin' rabbit ears. Even my old pal Pat McConvey finally capitulated, although he had to get married to finally trade up to Rogers Plus.
I thought maybe my kids would be affected. After three years, the Montreal student has never had any cable or satellite hook up. Child No. 2 just moved into residence at Ryerson and has no cable feed for the old hotel set stashed in his room. They could both be looking at snow in September.
Except a) nobody under 25 watches television. b) kids that do watch television rip it off the Internet.
Katie has seen every episode of The Wire without ever once screwing a coaxial cable or jamming brass-tipped, colour-coded contact wires into the back of any set. She just watches The Wire wireless.
TV may feed my family, but my family is dining way off the menu these days.
So the digital conversion must affect those in Canada's vast hinterlands, right? Wrong, arctic char breath. Visits to Dawson City, Whitehorse and Yellowknife in the past year have all yielded a full compliment of channel choices. You can watch CHCH, NTV and KTLA in the Yukon or the Northwest Territories, at least off satellite feeds offered in the hotel rooms I've visited.
The U.S. switched to digital two years ago and nobody lost an eye, although the U.S. government pocketed a fortune. Canadian broadcasters have been offering tips on how to bridge the conversion for anyone still bringing in City through a coat hanger. Thank God nobody has to miss an episode of Bachelor Pad. We shall overcome.
Remember, you can get a new antenna that receives digital signals and carry on without cable or satellite. Several TVFMF readers have and report better than ever picture and sound.
There's a theory out there that CBC might be the broadcaster most affected by the switch as their viewers tend to be older and tucked into more remote places. If that's true, there night be a dip in ratings for CBC this fall. Trouble is, will anyone notice on the first true test of the digital conversion impact--next Wednesday's Gemini Awards? That's right, the annual Canadian TV industry salute will be the first to take it smack in the analog. Again, well planned, geniuses.
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