The bad news: no more US Super Bowl commercials on HD cable
You no longer need cable to watch CTV in HD in Montreal. CFCF-DT was on the air testing as of Friday, and a press release put out on Monday seems to imply that the signal is now official.
While I don’t actually have an HDTV, the image above shows what CTV Montreal looks like in NDG by way of a digital-to-analog converter. If you’re wondering what that is, it is what is used to watch digital TV even when you don’t have an HDTV. It’s also what a large number of Canadians will be scrambling to buy at the last minute come Wednesday, August 31, 2011. That’s when full power television transmitters would be forced to switch to ATSC digital broadcasting. That’s also when old non-HD television sets will no longer work without either the converter or cable TV.
The new DTV signal is pretty weak, for the time being. In spite of that, the image quality was actually crystal clear, although you can’t really tell by the photo (Mental note: I really should invest in some equipment that will allow me to take screenshots). That’s because a DTV channel either comes in perfectly clear or not at all. The signal should be stronger once the analog shutdown occurs in August.
My only complaint would be that the on-screen program guide wasn’t giving out any relevant info for CFCF (see images below), but that is a relatively minor grievance.
CTV Montreal has made the switch just in time the Super Bowl too. Good news right? Well, for cable HD local viewers, not really. CFCF’s new DTV signal means no US Super Bowl commercials this year.
If you really insist on watching the US ads, you can try what I’ve done and get out your old UHF antenna. But since the United States has already switched to DTV, you will need to have either an HDTV or a converter. If you’re lucky, you just might pick up Fox 44 from Vermont (WFFF-DT) with the American ads (see last image below). It’s also perfectly legal. But picking up this signal in Montreal can be difficult. You either need a rooftop antenna or just be blessed with good TV reception. Right now, I’m getting Fox without any problem, but it can come and go. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.