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Blurry outlook for Canadian digital TV transitionGeist-48X68.jpg
Posted by Michael Geist

Earlier this week, hundreds of U.S. television stations plan to shut down their analog broadcasts as they complete the transition to digital over-the-air broadcasts. While the U.S. had planned for a nationwide change this month, last minute legislation has delayed the full mandatory transition until mid-June. My weekly technology law column argues that the U.S. experience to date highlights what should be a major concern for Canada - the transition from analog to digital broadcasts is years behind the U.S. with virtually no industry or government support. This sounds like a purely technical issue, yet the policy implications of that transition will have a profound effect on both the national broadcast and telecom landscape. The basic notion of the transition is fairly straightforward. For decades, Canadian broadcasters have used spectrum to transmit over-the-air analog broadcast signals. Before the widespread use of cable and satellite, many Canadians used antennae - "rabbit ears"- to access those broadcast signals. Today, approximately ten percent of Canadians still rely on over-the-air television signals. Early in the next decade, Canadian broadcasters are scheduled to complete the switch from analog to digital broadcasts. The shift to digital brings several advantages including better image and sound quality as well as more efficient use of spectrum that will open the door to new telecom services. Click here to read more of Michael’s post.

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