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a pretentious exercise of self-import

Local Television Satellite Solution (LTSS)

Photo of television antenna

Here's a little gem that recently came down the pike which might be of interest to you if you currently receive your television over-the-air (OTA) and do not currently have a satellite or cable subscription with a television service provider.

Shaw Direct has a programme called the Local Television Satellite Solution (LTSS) through which they will supply and install a satellite receiver and dish in your home at no cost. For many Canadian residents, this will mean you'll be able to receive about a dozen channels including all the major networks.

The programme was introduced in consultation with the CRTC when it was mandated that television broadcasters switch their signals from analog to digital back on August 30th, 2011. The current free promotional offer has been extended and is now slated to end November 30th, 2014. Full details about the Local Television Satellite Solution (LTSS) programme can be found on the Shaw Direct website. Simply click on the "My television service is going to be affected. What are my options?" link in the Frequently Asked Questions section on their website for more details.

The process is fairly simple. Simply call their toll-free number at 1-888-554-7827 and tell them you're interested in their Local Television Satellite Solution (LTSS) programme. They will take down your personal information (name, address, phone number and email address) after which they will email you a partially completed declaration form in PDF format. Complete the applicable sections in the form, sign and date it, and return it by fax, email or mail as per the instruction sheet. (Given the November 30th deadline, the most expeditious method is to simply scan your completed form and send it by email as a JPEG file.)

Once they receive your completed application, they will send you an electronic acknowledgement and two to three weeks following that you will receive your satellite receiver via Purolator courier. Once you receive the satellite receiver, you merely need to call the 1-800 number on the form and schedule an appointment with an installer who will bring a dish to your residence, install and activate the service at no cost to you. The equipment and labour are only warranted for 3 months. If there are any issues after the warranty period has lapsed, it is your responsibility for any costs required to restore the service. You may cancel your free subscription at any time. The programme is scheduled to end on November 30th, 2012 so if you are interested in enrolling in the Shaw Direct Local Television Satellite Solution (LTSS) programme the deadline is fast approaching.

It would be highly unusual to end at this particular point in time without offering up at least some criticism of the Shaw Direct Local Television Satellite Support (LTSS) programme. First, inasmuch as this programme is intended to supply OTA viewers with local television service, the word "local" is probably a misnomer. Here in the Ottawa market, for example, while LTSS subscribers will be able to recieve CBC and CTV signals neither of them will be from our local stations CBC-CBOT or CTV-CJOH. And while Ottawa viewers might take some comfort in the fact that they'll be spared coverage of the continuing Lansdowne boondoggle, the Beacon Sports - Double-A debacle, Presto delays and Light Rail development confusion, rest assured, we'll be kept well apprised of the latest shootings on Jane and Finch in Toronto.

Secondly, the LTSS programme would not appear to be implemented solely on the basis of Shaw Direct's corporate benevolence. Though the information on the programme is somewhat scattered across the internet, if I've read and understand it correctly, the provision of the LTSS programme by Shaw was brought about as a condition of the CRTC's approval of Shaw's purchase of CanWest Global. Accordingly, a substantial amount of money was allocated to fund the programme to ensure that television viewers affected by the transition to digital signals in some markets would not be adversely subjected to any particular media bias. And while the programme was originally slated to end on 30 November 2011, it is my understanding that additional funding was allocated to market the LTSS programme to affected households. I wasn't exposed to any radio, television or print media advertising the programme, were you? "I wonder if it was advertised on the digital channels I lost?" he asked with one eyebrow slightly raised.

Finally, I can't help but imagine that the whole LTSS programme will get shit-canned sometime down the road citing a "lack of demand" or "lack of funding" as its basis. I envision huge numbers of Shaw Direct receivers ending up in landfill sites and brightly painted dishes being used as bird-baths decorating rural lawns. As I scratch my head I can't help but wonder why the shift to digital in Canada didn't also coincide with a shift towards FTA (free-to-air) broadcasting and Canadian network television being beamed out unencrypted. As a self--proclaimed satellite Luddite, I can't help but consider there must be a technical prohibitive reason. Surely, the move couldn't be mandated by corporate profit, could it?