Canadian local over-the-air television stations have converted to digital television

On August 31, 2011, Canadian local over-the-air television stations in certain areas stopped broadcasting in analog and started broadcasting digital signals.

The switch to digital may affect television viewers who receive local over-the-air TV stations using an outdoor antenna or “rabbit ears”. These viewers may need either a digital converter box or a television with a digital tuner, or may want to consider receiving their TV services from a cable, satellite or other service provider. If you decide to purchase a digital converter box, consider purchasing one with the analog pass-through feature. This feature enables the viewing of both digital and analog signals which may be important for viewers that receive both types of signals.

Why has Canada switched to digital television?

One of the main reasons for switching to digital television is the need for more spectrum, commonly referred to as frequencies or airwaves. Spectrum is used for wireless telephone services, emergency communications, etc.

Digital signals use less airwave space than analog signals. This means that the freed-up space can be used for other services that have a high demand for more space. Digital technology also provides better picture and sound.

The effect of switching technologies means that certain TV stations may be moved to other channels on your television.

If you receive local over-the-air TV stations using an outdoor antenna or “rabbit ears” for free, this change may affect you.

If you receive your signal by cable, satellite or another TV service, the switch to digital by local over-the-air television stations does not affect you.

Areas switched to digital signals on August 31, 2011

Local over-the-air television stations that fit the following criteria were required to make the switch on August 31, 2011:

  • national and provincial capital cities
  • areas with a population over 300,000
  • other areas where there is more than one local television station broadcasting over-the-air signals

Specifically, the following areas switched to digital TV on August 31, 2011:

  • British Columbia: Vancouver and Victoria
  • Alberta: Calgary, Edmonton, Lloydminster and Lethbridge
  • Saskatchewan: Regina and Saskatoon
  • Manitoba: Winnipeg
  • Ontario: Toronto (including Barrie and Hamilton), London, Windsor, Kitchener and Thunder Bay
  • Quebec: Montreal, Quebec, Trois-Rivières, Sherbrooke, Rivière-du-Loup, Saguenay and Rouyn-Noranda/Val d’Or
  • New Brunswick: Saint John, Moncton and Fredericton
  • Nova Scotia: Halifax
  • Prince Edward Island: Charlottetown
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: St. John's
  • National Capital Region (Ottawa-Gatineau)

Over-the-air television stations in other areas may also have switched to digital on August 31, 2011, even if they didn’t have to. Your local broadcaster will be able to inform you if they have or when they are planning to.

News Releases

Related information