Just as it allowed Corus Entertainment Inc. to do last month, the CRTC has given approval to BCE Inc. to shut down some 28 broadcasting towers in rural parts of the country.
In its original application in March, Bell said the 28 transmitters — which are located in seven different provinces — “generate no incremental revenue and attract little to no viewership.” It also said that given Canadians have new ways to obtain TV programming, “signal distribution through a repeater network is becoming an increasingly lower priority and an outmoded business model.”
In its decision, the CRTC reasoned that Bell’s “application does not result in the loss of local or other original programming in the Canadian broadcasting system, given that no stations that originate programming would be shut down.” The commission did acknowledge that “it does mean that viewers in the areas served by these transmitters would not be able to receive this programming over the air.”
In interventions during the review process, five people wrote in to object to Bell’s request. “As it stands right now, I am able to access free of charge CTV’s signal in my area. I do not believe it is fair that, in the future, I should have to pay twice in order to access content that was once provided to me free of charge,” wrote Éric Boutilier of North Bay, Ontario.
According to its application, Bell will begin decommissioning the 28 towers in the spring of 2020, and will shut all of them down by December 2021.