Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


Satellite TV alternatives...

Posted 2/24/15 (Tue)

There is an unusual law in Canada regarding satellite television that is designed for snowbirds, but others are beginning to take advantage of it.

Just like here in the United States, a lot of people spend their winters in Florida, Texas and Arizona, but they miss their local TV while gone from home.

Because of that, the CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications) lobbied to get a law passed to allow those living in the American south and Central America, to watch their favorite TV programs via satellite.

In order to do that, they merely have to prove they have an address somewhere in Canada. If they don’t have a valid address, they may go through a “broker.”

Some of these “brokers” are good and some aren’t so good as in all business, but you have to remember in this scenario, the consumer is trusting someone else to navigate through federal law on their behalf.

Thus, if a snowbird is living in Tampa, Fla., for the winter, they send their service fee dollars to the “broker” who then pays the bill.

Americans are realizing they can do this too and the “brokers” are OK with it because it’s just that many more people from which they can collect service fees.

There are two ways to look at this broker issue. First, for Americans  living near the border on the U.S. side; they sometimes get a post office box across the boundary and actually have a Canadian address. Thus, someone living in Noonan for instance, who may have an address in Estevan, is considered by CRTC to be living in Estevan.

For those of us living further south, we have to go through a broker to obtain a “faux pas” Canadian address in order to receive one of two major Satellite providers.

The CRTC calls this “gray-area law.” If the service is paid, by a broker, nothing will happen because theoretically to the CRTC, everyone in the United States receving this service is a Canadian citizen spending vacation in the U.S.

Kusat, in Montreal, is one of the reputable brokers. Named after the K.U. band of satellites that were launched in the early ‘80s, its website at ( has a lot of information regarding these types of services.

Kusat will provide a brokerage service for Americans wanting to receive Canadian television.

Another company called Freeway Support Services in Winnipeg, has a slick website and the information is very carefully worded, but there have been scores of complaints about this company because of poor customer service.

So why would anyone in the U.S. want to do this if they have access to Dish Network and Direc TV?

If you look at the channel lineup on Bell TV or Shaw Direct, you’ll see literally hundreds of channels that are not available from U.S. satellite providers.

For instance, the Canadian Football League is no longer televised over-the-air and its programming is now exclusive on TSN (Total Sports Network) which broadcasts only via satellite.

There are, of course, a lot of American football players in the CFL and many of their parents have gone through this gray-area law so they may watch their son play in the CFL.

Hockey and news about the United States that doesn’t get air time in the United States are also important factors to consider.

North Dakota always seems to be a newsmaker on any of the three national English networks (CBC, CTV, Global) as well as one French network (RDI).

From the Lac-Megantic disaster to Devils Lake flooding to UND hockey, you will occasionally see segments from North Dakota.

There’s also multitudes of “local” channels that are broadcast and the consumer has the choice of which channels they want, such as those from Regina, Winnipeg, the far North or the Maritimes.

These providers also bring you programming from overseas so if you are Norwegian descent, you may request Norwegian TV. If you are German, same thing. In addition, there’s a generous amount of British programming.

I should also point out that U.S. network TV from Detroit and Spokane are available as well as numerous U.S. radio stations.

You must purchase the Shaw or Bell parabolic dish along with the receiver to get this service. There are some Bell dishes attached to homes in Minot. And as long as you don’t directly contact the satellite company, you should receive uninterupted service. Always go through the broker.

Fees run the gamut from $25-$300. Equipment costs are comparable to Dish and Direc TV. Kusat sells the necessary equipment.