Tuesday 2 September 2014

Free digital television by antenna still exists in Montreal

Marking an anniversary
While folks like me have drifted towards Fibe TV, there are still those who watch the small screen with the assistance of a good old fashioned antenna. On Monday,  September 1  Kirkland’s John Lancer marked the third anniversary of Canada’s analog-to-digital transition. “Many enthusiasts such as myself mark this anniversary to show appreciation to local broadcasters and raise awareness of free digital television by antenna,” he says. “The benefits of good-old TV by antenna is  still completely legal, free and now in stunning digital HD quality, yet few people know about it!”
According to Lancer, the Montreal over-the-air (OTA) TV community has been progressively growing since the "DTV renaissance" of broadcast TV, especially on social media. “There is a very active and growing community forum on digitalhome.ca, where users share tips and help others find antennas that work best in their area,” he says. “There is even a Twitter account  dedicated to informing Montrealers of the status of local stations and providing other OTA news.”
John Lancer and his antenna.

Lancer points to new products that have come out making it easier for people to cut the cord from Bell and Videotron. For example, new PVR models are on the market that hook up directly to an antenna and provide nice program guides, allowing people to mesh antenna TV with on-demand streaming services. “You no longer need to pay big bucks or subscribe to pay TV just to record your favorite shows in HD,” he insists. “Although existing antennas still work with DTV signals, new digital antennas are much more compact, powerful and discrete. Rabbit ears have been replaced by paper-thin indoor antennas and an outdoor antenna the size of a barbeque grill  will bring in most if not all Montreal and US channels when mounted on a roof.”
“People think they have to pay for satellite or cable to get HD television when in fact a modest antenna can bring in most of the major broadcast networks,” Lancer continues. “Free over-the-air channel selection in Montreal has actually increased since 2009 and bit-by-bit more people are going back to antenna TV, and if desired, complementing this with streaming on-demand content such as Netflix over the internet. The people that are going for this more affordable alternative to cable TV are called  cordcutters.  This past year  new devices came out that allow you to add your coax antenna to your home WiFi network. This means you can turn a computer or laptop into a DVR, and watch live TV from your antenna on your mobile devices using downloadable apps or media programs. For example, I watch Jimmy Fallon in bed on my iPad, streamed directly from my antenna-not the internet - so there is no hit to my internet data caps.

Live sports will still be coming to Montreal via over-the-air as Roger's CityTV will be carrying two hockey games per weekend,  as well as NFL football, racing circuits, MLB and the NBA. “The best part of having an antenna for the NFL is getting the SuperBowl American feed directly from the Burlington stations with the  real  Superbowl commercials,” Lancer notes, who says Côte-St-Luc, NDG, Lachine and other areas of the West Island are goldmines for free TV. A modest antenna setup will  easily get 20 plus  channels, pulling in even the American networks from the US border such as CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, PBS, CREATE, PBS+, CW, MeTV and PBS World. All stations are digital and most in either 720p or 1080i HD. All of this is free once you've paid for your antenna setup.

I wish to thank John for this education.


  1. Robert AnsteeSeptember 04, 2014

    I get 19 channels currently at my house soon to be 20 when WPTZ adds channel 5.3 on September 15th. I have difficultly getting ABC and FOX from my location near the Olympic Stadium despite www.tvfool.com stating my area as "Green Zone" for those channels. There is trouble on the horizon as the CRTC is thinking of allowing broadcasters to shut down their transmitters. Why?, because the CRTC allowed the takeover of broadcasters by Pay TV providers ! Walk into any The/La Source and you won't see any outdoor TV antennas on display. That's because they are owned by Bell ! They tried to sell me on their Fibe TV. The general public have been kept in the dark about OTA and many thousands of people in the Montreal area would benefit if they knew about it.

  2. Great write-up Mike. My elderly mother used to have cable to watch the news and some daytime talkshows. We started looking into OTA and installed an antenna at her house and now she gets the same shows in HD for free! Easily saving over $200 per year, incredible that this secret is so well hidden.

  3. Totally agree with this article, I have an antenna and will never go back to videotron! The new digital images are so crisp and there are even more channels than before. It's a whol new world, not like the antenna TV I was used to in the '70s. No more snow or ghosts, it's now all HD!

    I guess it's like they say: everything old ends up coming back in style, even antennas! LOL

  4. Wow, thanks for the great story Mike. I'm tempted to try this out as my cable bill has gone up like crazy these past few years

  5. Great article.
    I've been looking into antennas to see which one to get. I've cut cable about 4 months ago and been using XBMC but it is no longer working. Can you guys help find the best(not expensive) antenna knowing that i live in NDG. thxs

    1. Hi friend,your xbmc is not working because its changed name to kodi now,just install kodi and bingo your back on track,regards

    2. Try the Channel Master CM4228HD

  6. Placing an electrically small antenna in a dielectric reduces its resonant ... this relationship by simulating and measuring two electrically small Wavelink Antennas in.

  7. A 4 or 8 Bay antenna is not the best antenna for the Island of Montreal , it rejects channel from the side and back of the elements.
    Here in Montreal you need more like a Tri-Directional Antenna for reception of
    Mont Royal, Olympic Stadium, Mt Mansfield & Lyon Mt towers.
    It also needs to be installed with a Spectrum Analyzer,that can verify the SNR, BET and DB Gain you can move 3 feet on your roof and it can make a difference between getting 10 or 20 Channels.
    Trust me , have been installing Off air antennas and towers for more than 25 years in Montreal..
    Mario Trottier

  8. Here is a short Youtube testimonal link ( 8 Bay Antenna VS Tri Directional Antenna )