UHF Band to Be Repurposed Forcing Some Stations to Relocate

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Analog television is a thing of the past in the United States; starting in 2009, all viewers needed a digital receiver to watch TV. However, it’s still in fashion in Canada, although a recent move by the Canadian government will facilitate phasing out analog television technology, reports the Times Colonist.

In 2011, Canada’s federal government started the digital television transition when it cleared frequencies by requiring provincial capitals and broadcasters in cities with populations above 300,000 to convert their signals to digital. Broadcasters outside of those categories were still able to transmit analog signals.

Now, these smaller broadcasters will have between two to five years to convert their transmission facilities, said Hans Parmar, a Canadian government spokesman from the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. The first changes are not slated to begin until June, 2019.  

The Canadian government recently decided to clear a large portion of the UHF band in order to free up spectrum for wireless providers. Repurposing the 600 MHz band in Canada is being done in conjunction with the United States. The change means a significant number of over-the-air broadcasters will soon go dark.

The result will be limited because most broadcasters already converted. Parmar emphasized the importance of the decision to improving the nation’s wireless service. “These measures will not only enable the delivery of better and faster wireless services to Canadian consumers and businesses, it will also drive down prices,” Parmar told the Times Colonist.

Alberta-based Christian broadcaster Miracle Channel will shut down one of its analog transmitters, but still broadcast on a digital signal by converting its main transmitter to digital. The cost, according to operations manager for the station Tom Lister, is too much to convert its other analog transmitter.

“We had to make the hard decision to shut it down,” Tom Lister told the Times Colonist. Lister said the conversion would cost more than $100,000, which doesn’t include the ongoing maintenance costs associated with operating the analog transmitter.

June 6, 2017       

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