Last week, analogue television broadcasting in Canada ended. I’ve enjoyed OTA broadcasts for two years. That’s right … it’s been two years since I broke up with Rogers. They still send me ads trying to win me back. It’s kind of sad, really.
This is my current channel selection with the signal strengths at my place:
Virtual Channel Channel Name Call Sign Signal 4-1 25 CBC Ottawa CBOT 92% 6-1 6 Global TV CIII 79% 9-1* 9 Radio-Canada CBOFT 100% 11-1 22 CHCH CHCH 83% 13-1 13 CTV Ottawa CJOH 100% 14-1 20 OMNI-2 CJMT 90% 24-1 24 TVOntario CICO 87% 30-1* 30 Télé-Québec CIVO 92% 40-1* 40 TVA CHOT 86% 42-1* 42 Crossroads TV CITS 92% 43-1 43 CTV2 Ottawa CHRO 92% 60-1 27 OMNI-1 CFMT 86% 65-1 17 CityTV CITY 87%
I receive the stations with asterisks just fine, but I’ve removed them from my scans because I’m not interested in those stations. So I receive 13 and enjoy 9. A whopping 9 stations isn’t much in this hundred-channel universe, but suits me fine because they all come in perfectly, and along with Zip.ca and Netflix, they’re all I need. And unlike Zip.ca and Netflix, they’re free.
When the switch occurred last Wednesday, I had a bit of a shock. In addition to the above stations, I also received these on the evening of September 1:
Virtual Channel Channel Name Call Sign 16-1 41 PBS Watertown (SD) WPBS 16-2 41 Create/ThinkBright TV WPBS 16-3 41 PBS Watertown (HD) WPBS 50-1 21 ABC Watertown WWTI 50-2 21 North Country CW (SD) WWTI
I was ecstatic to see that I could receive PBS. I love that station! I was also quite surprised because the transmitters of these two stations are 162 kilometres away which means they’re below my horizon. I didn’t really understand, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying an episode of Nova.
I haven’t been able to receive these stations since that day, but now I understand what happened. I’ve seen conversations on the Internet about ‘tropo’ conditions, and that’s what I experienced. Wikipedia describes tropospheric ducting as,
a type of radio propagation that tends to happen during periods of stable, anticyclonic weather. In this propagation method, when the signal encounters a rise in temperature in the atmosphere instead of the normal decrease (known as a temperature inversion), the higher refractive index of the atmosphere there will cause the signal to be bent.
So when conditions are right, the signal either follows the curvature of the Earth, or the signal travels upward and is bent back toward the surface of the Earth, enabling me to receive a signal that is normally blocked by the curvature of the Earth. I don’t know how often it happens, how long it lasts when it does happen, or how dependable the signal is while it is happening, but if I can’t depend on it, I’ll likely ignore it completely.
According to TV Fool signal locator, I might be able to pull in WCFE (PBS Plattsburgh), WNPI (PBS Watertown), and WNYF (Fox Watertown) if I were closer to the top of my building. But would I change apartments for that? I’m tempted by PBS, but when I really think about the trouble involved, I find that I’m perfectly comfortable where I am. That said, I will certainly consult the signal locator the next time I move if I can choose between apartments on different floors.
In the meantime, I’m very pleased with the local stations I now receive.