Frequently Asked Questions

For answers to technical questions, please consult the CRTC website.

  • What is Digital television?

    Digital television (DTV) is an advanced broadcasting technology involving the transmission of audio and video by digital signals, in contrast to the analog signals used by analog TV. Digital signals provide better picture and sound and will enable a more efficient use of the scarce airwave resources.

  • How did CBC/Radio-Canada decide where to install its digital transmitters?

    CBC/Radio-Canada has installed a digital transmitter for every one of its television stations, for a total of 27 transmitters (14 for CBC and 13 for Radio-Canada).

  • Why can't you put up more digital transmitters?

    The evolution of our industry has moved us towards the difficult balancing act of allocating scarce resources across a wide range of platforms and priorities.

    Very few Canadians today use an antenna to watch TV. And as demand for over-the-air service continues to decline, the demand for service on new platforms – streaming online audio and video and mobile applications – increases. More people access our programming online today than they do over-the-air.

    Our strategic plan places the regions as a top priority for CBC/Radio-Canada. We will be investing in the regions over the next five years. But instead of investing on transmitters that serve fewer and fewer people, our strategy consists of enhancing our local programming offer and finding ways of providing local programming on radio and on the web to the 7 million Canadians who don’t currently have local service.

    Ultimately our industry should be aiming to have all Canadian homes connected to the digital economy through high-speed Internet, broadband satellite or cable, where the future of our industry clearly lies.

  • How much does it cost to replace a transmitter?

    The average order-of-magnitude cost of installing a new DTV transmitter is $1 million, although the cost can vary from site to site. As was the case with analogue transmitters, each DTV transmitter station requires a customized design, involving the balance of such factors as antenna design, height on the tower, transmitter power, etc.

  • What did the transition to digital cost CBC/Radio-Canada?

    The total capital cost for our digital transition plan was $60 million. That includes the cost of installing 27 digital transmitters, plus the building and installation of two HD satellite uplinks in Montreal and Toronto, as well as HD presentation outputs at these two locations.

  • Is the fact that you’re not doing more just a matter of money?

    Money is just one of several factors. Digital transmitters are very expensive to install. We invested around $60 million on the transition.

    It's also a matter of industry trends. OTA technology is marginal in Canada. Only 5 per cent of Canadians use it today, and that number continues to drop every year. Investing huge money in a technology that is clearly in decline is something that we're not prepared to do given our limited resources.

    Our strategic plan places the regions as a top priority for CBC/Radio-Canada. We will be investing in the regions over the next five years. But instead of investing on transmitters that serve fewer and fewer people, our strategy consists of enhancing our local programming offer and finding ways of providing local programming on radio and on the web to the 7 million Canadians who don’t currently have local service.

Update: September 1, 2017

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