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Canadian Satellites...a clarification

To allay everyone's fears...no, Canadian over-the-air broadcasts
aren't going digital just yet.  In fact, AFAIK there is no 
terrestrial DTV in Canada yet (although when there is, it will
follow the US model -- in fact, the FCC and CRTC just jointly adopted
an allocation plan for areas within 400 km of the border).  Interestingly,
a lot of the big-market Canadian DTV allocations are in the 60-69 range,
where the CRTC has been reluctant to allocate NTSC analog signals
(with a handful of border-area exceptions) and where the FCC is 
planning to auction the spectrum to non-broadcast uses.  For instance,
CBLT Toronto's DTV allocation is 64.  

[Parenthetically, I'd note that Canada's TV allocation scheme is a good
deal weirder than ours: there are classes called "VL" and "VU" for 
full-power stations, apparently based on low-band and high-band VHF
signal ranges, and then lower-powered categories called "A", "B," 
and "C" -- roughly 100kw, 10kw, and 1kw at average antenna heights for
UHF NTSC signals.]

What *is* going digital is satellite reception of Canadian signals.  The
old analog C-band Cancom stuff -- which was always encrypted for the
retransmitted US signals, and always in a mode that US decoders could
never receive -- is, or will soon be, history.  Doesn't matter, though,
because even in the frozen tundra up North, there's good DBS service from
ExpressVu and StarChoice (the one Garrett couldn't think of).  

ExpressVu, in particular, offers a very impressive range of Canadian
broadcast signals, Canadian cable signals, and US broadcast signals --
including WGBH, WBZ, WCVB, WHDH, and WFXT -- at a very reasonable cost.
One can get just about everything except the movie channels for
about US$40/month.  (There are a variety of a la carte packages 
that make French channels available to Anglophone viewers and vice
versa, as well as packages of international channels.)

Canadian satellite viewers are also allowed access to a wide range of
local signals from across the country...so while a DBS customer in 
Malden isn't (theoretically) allowed to get local signals from Seattle,
a DBS customer in Laval can watch not only the local Montreal outlets,
but also stations from St. John's to Vancouver...and, oh yeah, Seattle.

StarChoice offers Spokane and Detroit as the US options, and one of the
services is adding Buffalo as well eventually.

The CRTC exercises a lot more regulation over the channels that Canadian
cable and satellite systems must carry, so lineups are remarkably
consistent from coast to coast.  The only real advantage to the satellite
over cable, if you live in Canada, is access to a wider variety of
local and US channels -- and of course service to many areas that don't
have cable.

And just as gray-market Canadian dishes are known to be extant in the
Lower 48 (not that I would know *anything* about that :-), American
DBS dishes are not uncommon among Canadians who want their MTV, HBO,
and ESPN.  Both StarChoice and ExpressVu offer substantial rebates
for customers exchanging gray-market US equipment.  

But to get back to the point -- the only thing analog that's going
away is the C-band feed of CBC, which means CBC viewers in places like
the Carolinas and Colorado will be out of luck.  (Not that the 
Canadian-directed beams of the Anik satellites were ever very strong
in those areas, anyway).

It's nice to live in the heart of the footprint of the Nimiq DBS
satellite! :-)