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A comparison of Discovery HD between FiOS and cable with a 35.8% average bitrate reduction.  (Source: AVSForums user "bfdtv")
Canadian cable company compresses curious channel choices

HDTV enthusiasts in Canada having a chuckle at the expense of Comcast customers earlier this week are scheduled to receive similar treatment shortly. Beginning April 9th, Rogers Cable, one of the major cable companies serving the province of Ontario, is scheduled to begin compressing over a dozen high-definition channels.

Digital Home Canada
, a major site for Canadian consumer electronics, reported having been passed a technical brief from Rogers Network Engineering and Operations stating the impending compression and a listing of affected channels, shown below:
  • HD PBS Buffalo
  • HD WGN
  • HD The Score
  • HD Showcase
  • HD National Geographic
  • HD Mpix
  • HD Discovery
  • HD TMN
  • HD NBC Seattle
  • HD SUN
  • HD RAP
  • HDA&E
The selection of channels is similar in scope to those being compressed by Comcast -- so-called "premium stations" that most subscribers typically purchase as part of a bundle above and beyond the basic digital and HD channels. A sample of the compression artifacts seen on the Comcast feed of Discovery HD, compared to the same channel on Verizon's FiOS fiber-optic network can be seen to the right -- providing an estimation of what Canadians are in for.

Major American networks such as ABC and FOX, and Canadian networks CBC, CTV, Global, and sports network TSN were omitted from the list. While the American networks -- and The Sports Network -- may have been given a pass due to the large number of viewers, the immunity granted to the CBC may have roots within the regulations of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC.)

In the CRTC Broadcasting Public Notice dated June 12, 2002, paragraph 61 states that:
Accordingly, as a matter of policy, the Commission considers that a DTV signal distributed by a BDU [broadcasting distribution undertaking] to its subscribers should be of the same quality and in the same format as that received by the BDU, without any degradation.
However, no specific wording to this effect could be found within current CRTC regulations to this effect. With other major cable companies likely to follow suit, and opinions regarding the quality of Bell ExpressVu satellite service being less than stellar among the enthusiasts, the only remaining option for Canadian HDTV owners to obtain a crystal-clear signal may be to dust off the old antenna and fly it proudly on their roof.

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Rogers Custoemr
By oab on 4/3/2008 9:18:05 PM , Rating: 2
I'm a Rogers Customer, have a 42" Plasma TV, and I'm quite glad I don't subscribe to any of their HDTV channels.

I'm just waiting for the day that HDTV is so ubiquitous that they will be "forced" to offering basic HDTV available in place of basic cable at no extra charge.

RE: Rogers Custoemr
By SickBeast on 4/3/2008 11:02:43 PM , Rating: 2
You could always get Star Choice. I pay $22.40/month taxes included for over 100 channels, including 10 or so in HD (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CBC, CTV, etc.).

I don't notice compression artifacts with Star Choice and to me it looks clearer than Rogers HD.

RE: Rogers Custoemr
By DukeN on 4/4/2008 10:27:26 AM , Rating: 2

I have starchoice as well. I pay approx $40.xx plus taxes for all the standard cable channels, plus quite a few HD ones. (Got this through a sales promo).

I think the broadcast quality is better plus one of my favorite channels doesn't stutter like it did on Rogers (NBA TV).

RE: Rogers Custoemr
By anonymo on 4/4/2008 10:36:58 AM , Rating: 2
Well I pay for Roger's HD channels and I'm really looking forward to the phone call this weekend to make sure that either they don't compress my signal (hahaha...should I even bother?) or they give me a serious discount on the sub-par service.

Roger's is bad enough as it is without compression (blackouts, crappy service etc.) but it's still miles beyond any other available service unfortunately.

Anyone know if we're going to be seeing FIOS in Ontario in the foreseeable future?

RE: Rogers Custoemr
By omnicronx on 4/4/2008 3:36:47 PM , Rating: 2
Where do you live ? Toronto?
If so NBC,FOX,ABC,CBC,CTV,CITY,TORONTO1, and more are available for free via Over-the-air HD signals, which can be retrieved using your normal bunny ear vhf antenna depending on where you live ;)

Unless you are going to be getting the extras (HD sports channels, Discovery, AE etc..) you really don't need an expensive HD package..

p.s All new TV's and most TV's sold within the past few years have an ATSC OTA tuner, which is how you receive these channels. Just point your antenna towards the CNN tower/buffalo and voila tons of pure crisp WITH NO EXTRA COMPRESSION

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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