Monday, July 31, 2006

Never Far From Home: You Never Know What'll Pop Up On Canadian Cable Systems

Follow The Bouncing Satellite. Want To Find Your Favorite Network Program North Of The Border? Good Luck.
Some much-needed R&R was recently completed in the Canadian Rockies. A swell time was had by all, as would be inevitable in such a setting.
We did have a little downtime early in the morning and late at night when the tube beckoned beyond the Canadian channels. Fortunately, most cable systems obliged, though in some rather unusual ways.
The usual superstations were often represented, including WGN-Chicago, WSBK-Boston, KTLA-Los Angeles and WPIX-New York, which allowed me to watch hometown traffic updates in Calgary. Ooh-wee.
But then it got a little funky when it came to network affiliates. In Calgary, we saw Seattle stations. Up in Banff, it was Spokane. Notwithstanding the fact that Alberta is in the mountain time zones, an hour ahead of Washington state.
For a one-nighter in Revelstoke, British Columbia, we were all set for an hour of Gordon Ramsay turning chef wannabes into mush on "Hell's Kitchen." Only problem: It had been on three hours earlier, as the cable system there -- which went on the fritz in the whole city later that night -- brings in Detroit stations.
Back over to Jasper, it was Seattle for the nets except for Fox, which was represented by WFXT in Boston. Say what?
Yeah, I know, you're not on vacation to watch TV, but still. Seems there's a method to the madness in a way.
That would be the Canadian Radio-and television Telecommunications Commission, which has a list of stations that may be retransmitted.
Supposedly, cable systems can have a second network feed on a digital discretionary basis, whatever that means. But that doesn't quite explain how a system would choose stations from three time zones away exclusively.
Can anybody help out a wayward Yankee on this one?

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