A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Rural SW Ontario Goes Dark.

No, no, the lights did not go out but two of our broadcast TV stations will shortly!
Earlier this week, CTV said it will not seek to renew the licences for two A Channel stations - CKNX-TV in Wingham and CHWI-TV in Wheatley and Windsor in southwestern Ontario when they expire at the end of August. Our local radio station tells us this morning that the Georgian bay retransmitter site for CKCO will also be shut down.

CTV is also cutting much of the local programming from the stations that remain. Local TV news has long been a thing of the past for us here in Grey Bruce but what little local programming that was left is being cut way back. Not that it matters because unless you spring for satellite TV you wont be able to view it anyway. Much of our area is not covered by cable and I for one would not (could not) spring $500 or more for what is increasingly becoming a load of crap. I would like however to be able to view our national and international news from a variety of sources, my current choices available “on air” are “A” channel, CKNX, Global, and CBC. With Global looking shaky and CBC subject to major funding cuts its not looking good for those of us without big bucks to spend on cable or satellite. The worst part is that for those that can and do pay for these services it seems that none of their payments go the originators of the programming, and that now cable companies will have pretty much a monopoly in some areas. Strange!

We here in Grey Bruce are not the only one affected. “CTV says it won't renew the licences for about 45 rebroadcasting transmitters across the country where it is "no longer economical" to carry over-the-air broadcasting. That means fewer Canadians will be able to receive over the air signals of CTV - including Windsor, Bobcaygeon and Parry Sound in Ontario, as well as Bridgetown, N.S. and Thompson, Man.”

The CRTC will begin hearings into the current state of conventional television later this year, though CTV warned it could be too late. "While we welcome this new, year-long CRTC process and while we can't guarantee the survival of the As until that time, together we will do our best."

Having visited the retransmitter site for CKNX near Formosa, Ontario I can say that during normal times there is but one technician on duty any given time so exactly how much savings are to be made by shutting down such sites is questionable. I suspect this is more about the cost of switching these sites to Digital broadcast next year than the cost of maintaining them in their current form.

Either way this is a slap in the face of rural and low income citizens across the country particularly those that do not have the option of easily accessing high content internet news web sites because they do not have high speed available or can ill afford the extra cost of same.
As I said at the top a Dark Day for rural Canada.


Scott in Montreal said...

TV is a hot medium, while the more interactive online world is cool (in Marshal McLuhan terms). The difference is in the design. TV is all top-down drivel being shoved down our throats, while the internet is more of a balanced, two-way discussion. The kind of discussion that serves democratic principles much better than TV.

I guess what I'm saying is we're probably seeing TV change and adapt to the new electronic medium (internet) much the same way radio changed in the 50s and 60s in reaction to the new medium of the day (that being, of course, TV).

The first (natural) response is of bitterness at having something taken away. But think about it: high-speed will be available more widespread and soon.

I daresay you won't miss local TV production if it's soon gone. Citizen journalists with their blogs - not unlike you and I - will fill the community need for a channel, and are better equipped than TV to do right by us all.

At least, I sure hope so.

Laura said...

Ottawa's "A" Channel is gone too. Overnight. Just like that. And while I do think it's sad, I have to agree with Scott, web-based, interactive, on-demand tv is the way of the future and citizen reporting likely is as well.

Not commenting on A channel, as they did seem to dedicate a lot of energy towards local reporting, but I have to tell you about a more disturbing trend in news reporting recently.

A friend of mine was featured in the New York Times - tons of other papers around the world re-printed the article word-for-word under their own names! What is that all about? Is that laziness? Lack of funds? Honestly, how many reporters are out there being paid for original, investigative reporting?

Rural said...

Laura, Scott... I must agree that TV is becoming a thing of the past, "reporters" are increasingly getting their "news" from on line, often from "citizen" reporters (bloggers). So long as the net remains "open" this will in the long run probably be good. But, out here in the boonies its tough without high speed!