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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 MORE
  • HD TMN
  • HD NBC Seattle
  • HD SUN
  • HD RAP
  • HDA&E
  • HDCNN
  • HDNET
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 DigitalHome.ca 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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RE: Confusingly stated
By SunAngel on 4/4/2008 9:08:10 AM , Rating: 3
... but your still ripping your dvds to your pc to watch, right?


RE: Confusingly stated
By Alexstarfire on 4/4/2008 8:03:03 PM , Rating: 1
Yea, but I don't convert them to anything. I just take the whole ISO. I'm not saying they can't have good quality, but the quality to compression ratio is horrible. 2x the bitrate and it still doesn't look as good as my DivX files.


RE: Confusingly stated
By mindless1 on 4/5/2008 6:43:48 AM , Rating: 3
It's a little crazy how quickly you've gotten spoiled. In the grand scheme of things people managed to watch and enjoy TV fine for several decades of less than MPEG2 quality.

If you can't ignore, even forget about whether the quality was the utmost or not, odds are you would've been happier doing something else instead of watching something that captivated you enough that you didn't notice (MPEG2) anymore.


RE: Confusingly stated
By Noya on 4/5/2008 2:54:23 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, and that was on CRT displays that mated perfectly with 480 line signals. The majority of people with HD service have 720/1080p HDTV...and SD looks like crap compared to an HD signal.


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