Over the Air TV in Canada, and American Society

Since installing an over the air (OTA) antenna and getting a digital TV here in Toronto, Canada, we have been somewhat out of the reach of the Canadian government’s CRTC legislation because we can now watch U.S. TV without mandatory Canadian content commercials. This new tool, American TV, has given me some new insights of our American neighbours.

Race: Clear in American TV is the predominance of Blacks and the lack of multiculturalism we have here in Toronto. Neither good nor bad, this black/white split is simply different and certainly does not reflect my neighbourhood nor Toronto. Watching US TV is like visiting a foreign country, which it is.

Toronto, and especially Scarborough, is heavily Indian and Chinese. I have yet to see even a small sampling of anyone on U.S. TV that is Asian. This reminds me of the 1970s Toronto, where Chinatown comprised of 4 grocery stores. I have seen some Hispanic shows on American TV, and there is one channel, Bounce, that seems to be devoted to Black content. We do not have this singularity on OTA in Canada.

Commercials: I really find commercials tiresome. Rarely entertaining, we put up with them because they pay for the shows we do want to watch. At least I know that these sponsors are the ones paying for my shows, and do not have to deal with an intermediary cable provider, who can muddy up the waters by being the middle person.

American commercials greatly differ from Canadian ones, providing content such as class action lawsuits, experimental medical drugs, lawyers and suing people, and American football, in general. We here in Canada simply do not do this and therefore find these commercials very odd.

Overall I do like OTA TV, and find that our family watches better quality shows than on domestic cable. There is less brainwashing from the CRTC and Canadian government. I do value the increased exposure to Americans in general. Though they speak the same language as Canadians our philosophies are radically different.

When there is nothing of interest on it is much easier to simply turn the tv off and do something else. With cable I would be mindlessly channel surfing, eventually settling down to watch something of low quality that I would later think was a waste of time.

I had thought that I would miss nature and science shows, but this has turned out to be not the case. PBS on Ch 17 and TVO on Ch 19 provide really good shows such as Nature. Most of the large network stations carry news as well as some really good programming. You still need to avoid the bad stuff, but it is not as widespread.

Very important is the fact that my Little Weed is not watching as much TV. In fact he has started reading more, and actually likes reading his Hardy Boys books. What price can I put on getting him to read more?

Financially OTA TV is essentially free. Going into the third month of OTA, my investment was paid for in one month and one week, as compared to the $70/month Rogers cable bill. There is also no company to argue with and to suffer their terrible customer service. This alone is worthwhile.

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