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Canada - TV

Canadian television operates on a system known as NTSC which is different from the system used in Europe. These systems are not compatible, so that if you take a television set from anywhere in Europe it would need a serious amount of alterations before it could be operated in Canada. It would not be able to receive a signal or show a picture. At the moment the television system in Canada operates on an analogue system but there are digital switchovers planned.

The main broadcaster is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It was established before the Second World War and was intended to limit the amount of shows from the US. Within the CBC there are two television networks. One of these is the CBC Television which creates English language television programmes and the Television de Radio-Canada, which focuses on French language programming. There are very few places in the country where these networks cannot be received.

Television broadcasts are regulated by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission and it is a regulation that no less than 60% of programmes must be made in Canada. It is a trend that the Canadian programmes are broadcast off-peak as peak time viewing tends to be programmes made in the US.

TVA is a network which broadcasts in the French language and is also available on satellite and cable networks. Expats should also look out for local channels and networks which exist in all regions. The type and amount of local programming varies from region to region but all do have local channels for news, weather and local information. Television in areas such as Quebec is predominantly French although there are English language channels there too.

Many people now opt for one of the digital television options such as cable or satellite. These offer many more channels than the traditional analogue broadcasting and there are some foreign channels available too, such as those from the US. This is the option for those who want a wider choice of viewing options, but these services are still regulated by the CRTC. Most people will choose cable over satellite, the main providers of which are companies such as Rogers and Bell. These operate on a nationwide basis. A number of providers which offer services in just one region are also in existence and these include Cogeco, Eastlink and Videotron. Satellite TV is offered by a number of companies that include Telus, Shaw Direct and Bell.

In order to have access to satellite or cable television services you will need to contact the provider that you want to use and request installation. If you are living in a property where previous tenants have had cable or satellite it may reduce the installation time if there are existing cables in place. You should expect to provide proof of address and pay a fee for installation and some companies will carry out a credit check. Bills are usually sent monthly and are often a part of a package, so if you have your phone line with the same company you will get one bill for all services. The amount you pay for cable or satellite will depend upon the number of channels that you choose to have. Companies often offer packages with extra sports or movie channels, so you can choose the ones that you prefer.

There is no requirement in Canada for a television licence. Analogue channels are aired free of charge but the number that you can receive will vary from region to region. Cable and satellite television is operated on a monthly subscription basis and the more channels you want to receive the higher the monthly cost. American analogue channels used to be available to those who lived close to the US border but the US has now switched to a digital service so only those who can receive digital channels have access to them.

Canada plans to switch to digital television services by 31 August 2011. This will be for the larger cities and towns and when the analogue signal is switched off you can no longer pick up a television signal using a standard aerial. At this point you need to ensure your television equipment can receive a digital signal.

Useful Resources

Tel: 1-888-ROGERS1 (764-3771)

Tel: 1 888 759 3474

Shaw Direct
Tel: 1 888 554 7827

Read more about this country

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