CBC to begin HDTV broadcasts March 5th


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HDTV/digital television
TORONTO - The CBC Network and its French counterpart Radio-Canada will begin broadcasting in high definition television (HDTV) on March 5, 2005 in both Toronto and Montreal.

The CBC's first digital transmitters are tested and ready to bring high definition television signals to the airwaves in Toronto and Montreal in early March. The CRTC's 'must carry' rules mean that cable and satellite providers serving the two cities will begin to carry the new HD services at the same time.

The Toronto transmitter is on the CN Tower and will carry CBLT and CBLFT—the Toronto feeds of CBC and Radio-Canada. Similarly, the Montreal transmitter will carry both the English and French networks.

Most viewers will find the new channels through digital cable and satellite. In Toronto, Rogers Cable and Bell ExpressVu will carry service, although subscribers must have an HD-capable set-top box connected to an HD-ready display.

It is possible to receive the new CBC HD service for free over the air, although the equipment is hard to find at the moment.

You'll need a good set of UHF rabbit ears, or one of those big outdoor aerials of days gone by if you live further from the transmitter. You'll also need an HD TV set with a built-in ATSC tuner. It is also possible to buy a separate ATSC tuner box and connect it to an HD display, but these boxes are not yet readily available in Canada. You can also purchase a PC video card that will receive HD signals over the air.

The English Service, CBC HD, will be the CBC Toronto feed, upconverted to digital. Where the CBC has HD versions of programs broadcast on the regular schedule, they will simulcast them in HD. Where they have letterbox (16 x 9 aspect ratio) versions of continued programs in standard definition, they will broadcast those so they fill the screen on wide-screen displays.

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When it comes to the three subscription radio applications to be heard by the CRTC November (see this site for stories explaining it), should the Commission:
Approve all three?  
Approve the CHUM "Canadian" option?  
Approve one or both of the satellite options?  
Approve none?