CBC seeks to reduce rural Manitoba coverage, and doomsday prophets survive Global TV challenge

Portage and Main might be renowned as the windiest street corner in Canada. It could soon be the street corner most heavily bathed in electromagnetic radiation as well.

A few months ago, this blog reported that Global Winnipeg’s decision to move its transmitter 30 kilometres, from a CBC-owned tower just off Highway 2 near the village of Starbuck to the roof of the Canwest tower at Portage and Main, would mean that any rural Manitobans living more than 60 kilometres from Winnipeg and not yet on cable or satellite would have to switch by September 2011 if they want to keep watching the station.

Now it turns out that the CBC itself is also abandoning the Highway 2 site, and moving both its local English and French-language television transmitters to the top of the Richardson Building.

As with Global, this means that large parts of southern Manitoba will no longer have access to CBC Television without a cable or satellite subscription after the mandatory switchover to Digital TV at the beginning of the 2011-2012 television season.

According to the CBC’s application to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), their English signal after that date will only extend south to Morris, north to the southern edge of Lake Winnipeg, west to about half-way between Elie and Portage, and east to La Broquerie and Richer. The French signal will cover a slightly smaller area.

If you live in Portage, Morden, Winkler or Emerson and don’t have cable or satellite, you won’t have a CBC signal to watch after Aug. 31, 2011. Even if you live in Beausejour or St. Malo, you’ll need to replace your rabbit-ears with a rooftop UHF antenna if you want to continue receiving a reliable CBC signal without having to pay for cable or satellite.

Yes, that’s right — a UHF antenna.

Channels 2 to 6 — at the low end of the VHF band — are hostile places for a digital signal. That bit of interference caused by your parents’ electric carving knife or by an atmospheric disturbance causing TV stations in Tennessee to suddenly become receivable in Manitoba can make a complete mess of a digital signal.

Channels 7 to 13 — the upper end of the VHF band — are a little more interference-resistant. But UHF channels 14 to 51 are the most interference-resistant of all.

So UHF has gone from being television’s skid row — inhabited, according to longtime industry stereotype, by low-budget stations that made just enough money so that the station manager could hire an exterminator once in a while to get rid of the rats and roaches — to being the coolest neighbourhood on the dial, in less than a generation.

There’s just one hitch: most outdoor aerials in Manitoba were designed for VHF, not UHF, which could cause reception problems.

If approved by federal regulators, CBC’s English TV signal will be moving from channel 6 to channel 27, while the French-language service will be moving from channel 3 to channel 51 by next year’s Labour Day weekend. The deadline to make any objections known to the CRTC is October 26.

CBC Winnipeg Digital TV Coverage Area

Click here to find out if you'll still be able to watch CBC Winnipeg without cable or satellite after Aug. 31, 2011, and to find out if you'll need an indoor or outdoor antenna to do it. (© Communications Research Centre Canada, http://lrcov.crc.ca/main)

In other local television station news, the CRTC has dismissed a complaint about Jack Van Impe Presents, a paid-time religious program aired on Global Winnipeg. This stemmed from a 2009 complaint originally filed with the station and the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council by an unnamed viewer, who claimed that the program is “inappropriate for daytime hours when children could be watching, as they will be traumatized”.

In particular, the complainant was irked by the impication that “only Christians will be saved when doomsday comes in 2012” and that “anyone who is not Christian will suffer a horrible death”.

In their weekly program, Michigan-based televangelists Jack and Rexella Van Impe present their case that Barack Obama and the European Union are harbingers that the world is imminently about to experience “the rapture”. When this happens, according to the Van Impes, selected Christians will suddenly disappear into Heaven, leaving everyone else behind to deal with the resulting chaos.

As the following excerpt from a May 31, 2009 broadcast shows, these doomsday scenarios are frequently interrupted by sales pitches for DVDs:

Jack: Well, as you know, Kissinger said we are preparing Obama to create the new world order and Brown is pushing Blair, really his enemy in the past in the U.K., to become the first permanent president of the European Union because he says “I want Blair to be a partner with Obama in the creation and architecture of the new world order.”  Every sign that you hear, every sign from Revelations chapters 6 to 18 occurs during the reign of the leader of the new world order.  It’s the final sign.  I can’t emphasize it enough.

Rexella: All right.  Friends, we need to be focussing on the fact that the Lord could come very, very soon.  That is good news.  We’re going to get on with more global headlines in just a moment.  But let me just say that, whoa, you want to get your call in right away.  We’re really trying to get them out as fast as we can [holds up DVD].  New World Order Rising, our wonderful offer of the week.

Rexella Van Impe explains the Rapture in this ’90s video*
(Yes, the ’90s really were that cheesy.)

* — Too bad they couldn’t make that plane swerve erratically through the sky for dramatic effect!

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About theviewfromseven
A lone wolf and a bit of a contrarian who sometimes has something to share.

5 Responses to CBC seeks to reduce rural Manitoba coverage, and doomsday prophets survive Global TV challenge

  1. johndobbin says:

    ON August 31, 2011, we will be fully digital on TV.

    The Canadian government is going to have a lot of angry people since they have done very little to help prepare the country in contrast to other nations.

    CBC Radio had a very enlightening story on the subject:

    http://www.cbc.ca/spark/2010/09/full-interview-michael-geist-and-bill-st-arnaud-on-canadas-digital-television-transition/

  2. Mike says:

    There is seriously no better television than watching Jack Van Impe when you are high. It is the funniest show ever.

  3. theviewfromseven says:

    @ John: Oh yes, there’s going to be quite a ruckus on Sept. 1, 2011 when thousands of unprepared households suddenly have nothing to tune in to. Canwest estimated earlier this year that about eight percent of the Winnipeg market was still watching over-the-air TV, which doesn’t sound like much, but accounts for thousands of households. (http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2010/2010-485.htm)

    Plus, there’s been less pressure to switch over here due to the lack of U.S. OTA signals in Winnipeg aside from KNRR Pembina.

    @ Mike: Oh jeez, that show must be absolutely hilarious if you’re drunk or stoned! The first time I saw the show, back in the early to mid ’90s, I had just gotten home from a 4 p.m. to midnight shift at work and was doing a bit of channel surfing. And here was this silver-haired man talking about the connection between the European Union and the number “666” with his wide-eyed co-host nodding along in agreement. It was funny enough sober!

    BTW, your comment reminded me of this clip:


  4. Fat Arse says:

    Though my days of getting “high” are (too?) few and far between these days, I have to agree with Mike.

    My own pot inspired “rapture” used to revolve around Jim and Tammy Baker’s PTL Club broadcasts in the early 1980s. My first year roommates and I used to tape their old early morning show (5am CKND?) on the VCR and watch it after hockey practice in the evening after the nightly MASH rerun with bong in hand. Ah… those were the days!

    As for the more important issue addressed in this post… EGAD! Can’t we do anything right? Why are our broadcasters being permitted to relocate their broadcast towers when we know their actions will leave significant portions of our rural population “outta” the loop. Disgraceful!

  5. theviewfromseven says:

    @ Fat Arse: I have no ill will toward the broadcasters. I’d probably do the same if I were a station owner, given that local TV is no longer the big money-maker it used to be. The post was intended to:

    a.) Give a heads-up to the coming drama when a whole bunch of people suddenly find themselves deprived of their football game. (People might not “get” Afghanistan, interest rates, soaring consumer debt or the federal deficit. Missing the game because they didn’t realize that even with a digital receiver, their farm or village would still be out of range? That they understand!)

    b.) Provide a good segway into the Van Impe story

    Perhaps we should give thanks this Thanksgiving that the digital switchover date was wisely chosen not to coincide with the hockey playoffs. There might have been riots.

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