DTV Info Ratings

In the days leading to the August 31st Canadian Digital TV Transition, media outlets presented various news pieces on how the television audience can prepare themselves for the upcoming transition from analog to digital television. Unfortunately, many of these news pieces did a better job of misinforming the television audience on the upcoming digital transition, creating mass confusion, and potentially resulting in unnecessary expenses.

This section will feature ratings of the various news reports presented during the days leading to the August 31st Canadian Digital TV Transition. The scores will be based on a demerit points system similar to the demerit points applied to automobile drivers for traffic violations. The higher the score, the worse the news item. The lower the score, the better the chance the report did its job of informing the public.

The Demerit Points

Code Description Points
PRICE Each pricing mistake. 5 points per $50
TECH Each minor technical mistake. 10 points
NO DIG TUNER Not mentioning the existence of digital tuners in today’s TV sets 25 points
NO FREE TV Claiming it’s the end of “Free TV.” 30 points
DIG ANT Recommending a “digital” antenna. 40 points
OBSOLETE ANT Claiming old television antennas are obsolete. 50 points
CABLE SAT Actively promoting or aggressively pushing cable or satellite services. 100 points
BY NAME Promoting cable or satellite services by name. 200 points
  • 0 points: pretty much dead-on. However, this ratings system doesn’t take into account the overall quality of the presentation.
  • Less than 25 points: the mistakes are minor. The news piece is fairly accurate.
  • Between 25 and 50 points: at least one major mistake has been made and needs to be corrected.
  • Between 51 and 200 points: the news item is no longer credible and should be ignored.
  • More than 200 points: A complete disaster.

Ratings By Media Outlet

Media outlet Number of news items Total points Average points per news item
CBC/Radio Canada 3 505 168.3
CTV 3 185 61.3
Global 1 260 260
TVA 1 25 25
V 1 0 0
Print media 2 260 130

Individual Ratings

Published on August 31st, 2011
By reporter Staff
Working for CTV
TECH 10 points
DIG ANT 80 points
TOTAL 90 points
Comments The 10 points for the TECH was due to a quote from the CRTC’s own Web site stating that digital signals use up less airwave space than analog signals. In reality, digital channels occupy the same frequencies and airwave space as their analog counterparts. Only the content of the signal has changed.
Published on August 31st, 2011
By reporter Paul Karwatsky
Working for CTV Montreal
PRICE 5 points
DIG ANT 40 points
OBSOLETE ANT 50 points
TOTAL 95 points
Comments The mention of a digital antenna was implied by the recommendation of a flat, wall mounted antenna. These antennas are often marketed as “digital” antennas, and the flat ones can be difficult to adjust.
Published on Week of August 31st, 2011
By reporter Pat Foran
Working for CTV Toronto (Consumer Watch)
TOTAL 0 points
Comments Surprisingly accurate considering CTV is owned by Bell, which also owns Bell TV. However, the piece still used the more popular “fear” based style of delivery instead of a more neutral information based style of delivery.
Published on August 31st, 2011
By reporter Robin Gill
Working for Global
TECH 30 points
NO FREE TV 30 points
OBSOLETE ANT 200 points
TOTAL 260 points
Comments A complete disgrace. This news item was grossly misleading in so many ways, it’s a miracle it ever made it to air.
Published on September 1st, 2011
By editorial cartoonist Bruce MacKinnon
Working for The Chronicle Herald
TECH 10 points
TOTAL 10 points
Comments Not a news piece, but an editorial cartoon. It wasn’t scored as strictly as a conventional news piece. But technically, you can still use that old coat hanger!
Published on April 18, 2011
By reporter Laurent LaSalle
Working for Radio-Canada (in French)
TOTAL 0 points
Comments Not only was the piece accurate, it even explained how to get the best possible reception for the maximum number of channels.
Published on March 2, 2009 (YouTube video upload date)
By reporter Nancy Wood (English)
Louis-Philippe Ouimet (French)
Working for CBC and Radio-Canada
TOTAL 0 points
Comments Accurate and informative. Both reports did point out that you can’t get cable specialty channels over-the air, and that your old rabbit ears will still work. However, they did warn that a bigger antenna may be necessary to get more channels, which could introduce a new round of “antenna envy.”
Published on August 19, 2011
By reporter Bahador Zabihiyan
Working for Radio-Canada (RDI)
TECH 20 points
NO DIG TUNER 25 points
NO FREE TV 60 points
OBSOLETE ANT 100 points
CABLE SAT 300 points
TOTAL 505 points
Comments The worst of the lot. A monumental piece of garbage reporting.
Published on August 24, 2011
By reporter Vincent Brousseau-Pouliot
Working for La Presse (Affaires)
OBSOLETE ANT 50 points
CABLE SAT 100 points
BY NAME 100 points (half the points)
TOTAL 250 points
Comments A highly confusing series of articles that does a better job of confusing the readers than inform them of their choices. Only half the demerit points were added for the naming of Shaw’s DTH satellite service since the reporter was pushing Shaw’s free “local channels” service available to anyone who can’t get local digital channels with a TV antenna, and who hasn’t subscribed to a cable or satellite service during the last three months.
Published on August 29, 2011
By reporter Catherine Vaillancourt
Working for V
TOTAL 0 points
Comments Clear, concise, and to the point. The news item did an excellent job of informing the television viewer of all of their choices (including cable/satellite) without actively promoting or aggressively pushing one platform at the expense of another.
Published on August 31st, 2011
By reporter Danny Côté
Working for TVA
NO DIG TUNER 25 points
TOTAL 25 points
Comments Not as thorough as the V report, and it did fail to mention that your flat panel TV may already have a digital tuner inside. Still, knowing that TVA is owned by Québecor which also owns the cable company Vidéotron, it’s surprising the report didn’t even try to push the corporation’s own cable TV products.