If you live north of the U.S.-Canada border, don’t throw out your radios and broadcast TV sets quite yet.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC, Canada’s public radio/TV broadcaster), said last month that over-the-air radio and TV transmissions will continue “until adequate high-speed internet is available to all Canadians,” according to a report posted on CBC.ca.
The (somewhat) reassuring statement by CBC was a followup to a Globe and Mail newspaper interview with CBC President/CEO Catherine Tait, which stated: “The head of the CBC says it is preparing to end traditional TV and radio broadcasts and move completely digital, as audiences shift to streaming, but the move is unlikely to happen over the next decade.” The Globe and Mail quoted Tait as saying, “‘If we’re going to be audience first we have to be digital first.’”
In that interview, Tait stated that such a switchoff would not occur until “broadband ubiquity” had been achieved across Canada, so that rural Canadians would not lose their access to CBC content.
She reemphasized the point in the subsequent CBC.ca news report. “Let’s be clear. We are not abandoning anyone who’s watching on traditional television or listening on traditional radio,” Tait said. “We are looking at a two-decade horizon … We are a vast country and until we have ubiquity in broadband delivery in this country, we will leave no one behind.”
As for the notion that the CBC is pushing away from broadcast in favor of digital, Tait said in the Globe and Mail interview: “We don’t want to drag Canadians to digital. They are dragging us. We saw it in the pandemic, subscriptions to streaming go way up and those people don’t go back to conventional television.”
A similar view was stated by BBC Director General Tim Davie in a headline-making December 2022 interview with the Guardian newspaper. “Imagine a world that is internet-only, where broadcast TV and radio are being switched off and choice is infinite,” he said then. In such a world, broadcast radio/TV has no relevance. Since such a future seems imminent, “A switch-off of broadcast will and should happen over time,” said Davie, “and we should be active in planning for it.”