Bulkley Valley immune from digital switch for over-the-air TV

Anyone worried about the impending switch to over-the-air digital transmission for television need not worry anymore as the Houston and Smithers area is immune from the changes.

  • Aug. 10, 2011 6:00 a.m.

Anyone worried about the impending switch to over-the-air digital transmission for television need not worry anymore as the Houston and Smithers area is immune to the changes.

Houston-Smithers Rebroadcasting Society President Richard Harris said that the change is really only for the major urban centres near the U.S. border.

“A lot of people are getting a distorted message from the ads the cable companies and some of the stations have been running on the T.V.,” said Harris. “It is true that there is an Aug. 31 deadline for some stations to switch but it does not affect us and does not affect roughly 80 per cent of the country.”

By treaty Canada has to coordinate the switch to digital to accommodate the cities near the border after the States decided to go digital about seven years ago.

“We’re not in one of the areas required to [switch] because we’re so far away and we’re small,” said Harris. “Not even CBC is going to transfer most of its transmitters.”

Although the over-the-air signal won’t be affected in this area, the society members are asking themselves whether they should go digital anyway.

“There’s actually an advantage to going digital,” he said. “For one thing it would allow us to provide more stations over a single T.V. channel.”

It would also mean an end to snowy pictures because the signal, like with your satellite, is either there or it isn’t, he said.

“One reason for hesitation is a lot of our viewers who rely on over the air T.V. signals … have older T.V.’s. and they can’t pick up a digital signal.”

Those people would have to buy a new T.V. or digital converter box.

Also, if they did make the switch the over-the-air television would go down for about a month while the switch is made. The silver lining is that when it came back there would be more stations.

He’s hoping for a good turnout for their Annual General Meeting tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at the Old Church in Smithers. There they will discuss the possible switch to digital and get people’s feedback.

Harris also wanted to remind people that the society is the entity responsible for broadcasting CBC Radio 2. Earlier this year there were some issues with the broadcast and many people did not know who to contact.

For more information on the society you can either visit their website at www.tvsmithers.com or call Harris at 250-847-2838.