Why is the CBC in mono?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by RossH, Apr 14, 2002.

  1. RossH

    RossH Stunt Coordinator

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    Not sure if this will interest anyone at all, but I took over an hour to write it, so I thought I may as well share it with those who would understand what I'm saying.
    The following is an email I sent to the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), it deals with the 'painful' subject of how they broadcast in mono, at least in my area. I don't understand why, or even how, so I thought I'd better take some action. I can no longer just sit back and watch the world become more and more backwards! And it's not just the sound engineer in me, I'm just speaking as a loyal viewer.
    Anyway, here's the letter:
    It's just time.
    First, let me say that I am a CBC fan, I watch Hockey Night in Canada religiously (Go Leafs Go!), I find your sports coverage outstanding, and your consumer report-type shows (Venture, etc.) are great sources of info for consumers.
    That being said, I cannot help but wonder, each and every time I flip by the CBC, why and how in the world it is broadcast in mono sound, in this, the year 2002!
    I assume it's cost (perhaps you can't afford new stereo equipment), but let's face it: The shows you buy rights to run, and spend millions to develop, these shows are mixed in stereo! When the show is sold to another network, or released on DVD or VHS, those markets will demand stereo.
    CBC shows many great music specials (Alanis, Opening Night, Celine Dion, etc.), yet these programs all sound terrible, due to the mono broadcast.
    CBC is known for it's millions of tax dollars spent on dramatic miniseries, yet these programs are then broadcast in mono, which all but destroys the integrity of the sound mix. Would your audience not be better served by a stereo (at least, if not surround) soundscape, thus making these shows more appealing?
    I'm looking forward to watching the Junos tonight on CTV, because to me, nothing is better than Canadian music...except Canadian music in stereo!
    Maybe you think that it's still the 1960's, where families gathered around the 6 inch black and white TV, this strange new box that broke down the barriers of communication and united a country, as it brought information and entertainment previously unavailable to people across the country. Well, harkening back to the old days is not the smartest way to operate a competitive company.
    Walk into any electronics store these days, and you'll see the TV's people are buying! They are bigger, they are colourful, and they are stereo! Not to mention that home theatres are being set up in more and more homes across North America every day.
    When people watch a show, they want it to be in the best possible presentation. That means best picture, as well as best sound format, which, in this day and age, is NOT mono!
    Audiences are becoming more and more sophisticated, which is why I believe the CBC should move to stereo, if you don't, then good luck finding an audience as big as it was in 'the good old days'.
    Also, I would like to praise the shooting of the "Canada: A People's History" series in widescreen. I was amazed at the widescreen picture, as it was a huge step forward (most people hate 'the black bars'), but, as always, could still only shake my head at the mono sound. Yet, if I buy the DVD set off your web site, not only is it in stereo, but it comes with a stereo audio CD of the "Gemini Award Winning Soundtrack"!
    Of course, maybe I'm completely wrong. Perhaps upgrading to stereo equipment would cost more than I can imagine...nevertheless, I think it should be at least seriously considered.
    Oh, and let's talk about advertising revenue. It is an absolute certainty, in my mind, that advertisers would prefer their ads played in stereo...advertising has ridiculously huge budgets, as I know (that's what I do for a living). The music score alone can cost 10's of thousands for a 30 second spot. Sure, sound engineers play their mixes back through crappy mono speakers to make sure it sounds good anywhere...but they don't think for a second that that's what most people have!
    Finally, let's talk hockey. Hockey Night in Canada has tons of music beds, from the theme, to Coach's Corner, and throughout the show. Watch a game on ABC, or Sportsnet, and then watch one on the good ol' CBC...soundwise, it's just gross!
    Perhaps I'm completely going against the grain, compared to what the old school people in charge of the CBC may be thinking. After all, I am not sure at what point in the broadcast chain the mix gets put to mono, maybe it's just a Saskatchewan thing (wouldn't surprise me), and all other provinces have it in stereo, I don't know, I haven't done the research. But, I have to believe there are more than a few people who work there who go home and flip on the satellite dish, and enjoy a world of stereo/surround sound programming. Moving to stereo is not revolutionary! There will not be riots in the streets! The sun will still come up the next day! Let us not be afraid!
    If this is just a Saskatchewan broadcast issue, I would appreciate it very much if you could either direct this email to where it needs to go to be heard, or send me the contact info for whomever I need to take to task on this.
    Please broadcast in stereo. It's time. If the CBC is going to cost me 7 cents a day (I think that's the figure I've heard), I'd at least like it to sound good. Your audience is listening!
    Thank you for your attention.
    So, what do you guys think?
    Ross
     
  2. Jeff D.

    Jeff D. Supporting Actor

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    This has always boggled my mind as well. I mean - its 2002!!!!!! How can a nation's primary network still broadcast in mono?? It makes no sense at all...

    /Jeff
     
  3. Francois Caron

    Francois Caron Cinematographer

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    Based on the CBC channels available on Bell ExpressVu, the availability of stereo depends on the capabilities of the individual affiliates. Not all of them have full stereo capabilities. Even those stations that have it may not have it configured properly.

    Among the channels I'm used to watching, the best stereo separation comes from the Atlantic affiliate on channel 200. Surprisingly, the Toronto CBC affiliate on channel 210 does have stereo, but the separation is horrendous! For a while, I thought the availablility of stereo on the CBC depended on the budget allocated to each individual station. But CBC Toronto, the main station of the entire network, not having decent stereo separation? It makes no sense.
     
  4. RossH

    RossH Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the replies, fellows. Glad to hear I'm not alone on this.
    I don't know what the answer is, but I wish they would have a look at the problem. Is it just another case of the suits being out of touch? Is it budget (as if the CBC answers to anyone)? Is it atmospheric phenomenon? [​IMG]
    That is bizarre! Well, other mono channels on my dial include CPAC and The Weather Network! I understand why these ones don't need stereo, they don't run multi-million dollar dramatic series, sports and movies! But, for the CBC to let itself fall into this category...
    Oh, but CBC Newsworld is stereo! Plus it has Second Audio Program. Too bad it's all news!
    Whatever. I'm going to look for other places to send my letter, and I encourage other stereo fans to do the same. It's not like I'm asking for 5.1, anamorphic, digital broadcasts (although give it another couple years!), I'm just asking for two separate channels of audio! Wouldn't this have become standard in the 70's or 80's?
    Anyway, glad to hear there are some stereo CBC channels out there. Maybe I'll get to hear one someday. [​IMG]
    Insanity.
    Ross
     
  5. RossH

    RossH Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, I got an answer from emailing the CBC, and basically it comes down to funding. The problem lies in their old transmission towers across the country that need to be converted to stereo. Since it is very expensive to do so, they do it on a case by case basis, based on number of viewers in that region, etc. The CBC is stereo in Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto for those reasons.
    Wonder how low on the list of priorities stereo in Saskatchewan would be? Pretty low, I bet.
    The next question is, if the over-the-air transmission is in mono, why would it still be mono if you watch the CBC on cable? Does the cable company take their CBC feed over the air? You'd think they get it from satellite or something.
    It's still insanity, but at least they replied to me. I feel like I accomplished something. [​IMG]
    Ross
     
  6. Steve K.H.

    Steve K.H. Supporting Actor

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    You mean it's STILL MONO? I assumed they changed over globally.

    Government Funding, CRTC, Soldiers in Green Fatigues, No Kohunas to support the softwood lumber industry...

    (who voted for these clowns anyway?)
     
  7. RossH

    RossH Stunt Coordinator

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    Yep, Steve, it's still very much mono! What change over are you referring to, if I may ask?
    I don't wanna get into a big political debate here (ie. What Ontario votes, the rest of the country gets!), although if the CBC were a private company like they should be, I wouldn't have too. [​IMG]
    Or at the very least, be a public broadcaster, but do it like PBS does, through viewer support! Don't just take it outta the tax dollars! The tax act was a temporary act to raise funds for the war, not to produce "Emily of New Moon"! [​IMG]
    Did you see the Junos, by the way? A celebration of government programs...oh wait, there's some Canadian artists here tonight too. What a gross show. There were more suits in the audience than music fans, and that really says a lot about how it works here. I don't recall the Grammy's being that way!
    My friend put it this way: 'Vote for us, and we'll keep making more 'Nickelback's!" LOL!
    Anyway, I'm a little off topic perhaps.
    Ross
     
  8. Jean-Michel

    Jean-Michel Supporting Actor

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    Or at the very least, be a public broadcaster, but do it like PBS does, through viewer support!

    Ha ha ha.......if you think the CBC is underfunded now.......
     
  9. Steve K.H.

    Steve K.H. Supporting Actor

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    Of course I'm watching CBC now... yep, still mono... btw does Bob Cole get paid every time he says something good about the Leafs?

    Case in Point, game one, "Cujo's not getting much support, he's already had 17 shots against him"

    -ummmm Bob, it's 4 to Zip... barely a .750 save percentage.

    Back to it... the problem with Canadian programming stems from regulation... don't get me started on the CRTC... thank GOD for the internet!!!

    The problem even reaches all the way to the Supreme Court with a ruling a week ago that grey (gray for those south of the 47th) market satellite providers are selling illegal wares.

    Why (I mean WHY!!!???) do Canadian's have to endure content that others choose for us? Democracy or Dictatorship?

    We lose our freedom when protectionism steps in.

    (it's good to vent, but it isn't changing anything)

    Does saying we are having our freedom taken away ring ominously for anyone else?
     
  10. Kwang Suh

    Kwang Suh Supporting Actor

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    I seriously doubt the Canadian public would like it if the CBC got $100 million "just" to upgrade to stereo. Like that wouldn't make the front page of the paper about the waste in the government.
     
  11. Martin Fontaine

    Martin Fontaine Supporting Actor

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  12. Steve K.H.

    Steve K.H. Supporting Actor

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  13. Kwang Suh

    Kwang Suh Supporting Actor

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  14. Francois Caron

    Francois Caron Cinematographer

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  15. Mitty

    Mitty Supporting Actor

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    Privatize the CBC? What a great idea. [​IMG]
    I mean, if some of their programming doesn't have millions of viewers, then what's the point, right?
    Privatize the CBC and instead of nature documentaries, we'll get "When Animals Attack." Sounds great.
    You guys do know that the U.S. has PBS and NPR (both publically funded), yes?
     
  16. Steve K.H.

    Steve K.H. Supporting Actor

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  17. Jean-Michel

    Jean-Michel Supporting Actor

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    How's this for a reality check... (although I haven't followed it lately) about 5 years ago PBS Spokane received a huge portion of the telethon donations from Edmonton and Calgary (Alberta, Canada).

    Not to sound rude, but what does this prove? That some Canadians like PBS?
     
  18. Martin Fontaine

    Martin Fontaine Supporting Actor

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    About the Quebec thing, I was referring to the french language thing, they're not protecting it they are forcing it on the people.

    When a movie review says that the movie is better in original english version, that the dub is crap, they get a fine or something.

    A well known language institute in Montreal got denied airing of a commercial that showed someone telling his friend to call the place and learn english to watch his movie in their original languages.

    If you want to see a movie in it's original english version you will need to provide ID that proves that english is your first language... Well not, but give them 5 years and they will have at least tried to pass a law for that!
     
  19. Francois Caron

    Francois Caron Cinematographer

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  20. Steve K.H.

    Steve K.H. Supporting Actor

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