CBC/Radio-Canada and TVO officially ended their analog television service on Tuesday, a change that means anyone who has been using an antenna to receive their signals for free will no longer be able to receive a signal without cable or satellite subscription.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation says only 1.7 per cent of its viewers will be affected by the change, which has been in the works for more than a year.

Most Canadians will continue to receive their television programs the same way they always have, as the majority of the population subscribes to satellite or cable TV or uses digital tuners or the internet to receive TV programs, all of which are unaffected by the shutdown of transmitters that relay analog signals.

Canadians who used to use an antenna to receive over-the-air television signals for free are being offered the option of a no-cost satellite package through Shaw. The free package is called the Local Television Satellite Solution (LTSS) program and can be ordered through Shaw Direct.

Analog shutdown to save CBC $10M

The CBC has shut down its 607 analog transmitters, mostly in small and rural communities, and replaced them with 27 digital transmitters that were installed in 2011 and 2012.

The move will save $10 million a year, money that the corporation says it will put into programming, but critics say the public broadcaster has an obligation to keep offering its signal for free.

"The TV transmitter infrastructure is worth millions and was paid for by Canadian taxpayers," said Catherine Edwards of the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations in a news release.

Her group and others would like to see the old transmitters turned over to communities to be upgraded to digital and  repurposed for community TV, radio, high-speed internet and cellular service.

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, another grassroots group opposing the analog shutdown, urged CBC to follow TVO's example.

Ontario's publicly funded station has offered each affected community the option to take over ownership of their local transmitter tower and satellite dish.

Canada began the transition to digital television in August 2011, two years after the U.S. 

The Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission had ordered all broadcasters to switch to digital by the August 2011 deadline in 30 markets, including all provincial capitals and cities with a population of 300,000 or greater, but ended up granting the CBC a one-year extension after it said wouldn't be able to make the full transition in time.

Corrections

  • A digital converter box is no longer enough to get a CBC-TV or Radio-Canada signal. Earlier versions of this story contained incorrect information.
    Oct 24, 1970 8:11 PM ET