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Cancel Your Cable and Get Free TV

Posted by John Hargraft / May 20, 2008

Antenna hdtv television toronto
The Toronto area is one of the best places to be in North America for getting OTA (over the air) TV signals. You just have to know how to harness these signals, and over 18 high definition channels can be yours free.

Of course, nothing is ever completely free as you do have some prerequisites. What you need is a newer HDTV that has a built-in ATSC tuner, or you can invest in getting a separate receiver unit. If the built-in receiver is not getting you enough of a signal there are a few inexpensive options available. A small indoor UHF antenna should dramatically increase signal strength. These are not so easy to find these days, but a few calls to a good television retailer should get you one.

A big plus for receiving these signals in the GTA is having a south-facing window or deck. Most Canadian signals are broadcast from the CN tower, so line of sight will help a lot. Additionally, almost all of the available US signals are coming from the Buffalo area, so point your antenna there.

With the impending death of analog Television, the networks are being forced, by the CRTC, to start broadcasting in high definition digital signals. The take home message is this - if you are receiving television from a set of rabbit ears or similar VHF antenna you will no longer get free analog TV in Canada after August 31st, 2011, which is the planned date for the analog signal shutdown. The United States has marked February 17th, 2009 for their switchover.

So in the near future you may want to consider cancelling your subscription to your cable TV provider, because you can get most of the big broadcasters in better quality for free. I personally have not paid for cable in over a year, and love not giving Bell or Rogers more of my money.

If you would like more info about OTA television or advice on receiving these signals, you can check out this great resource. If you have any personal experiences in OTA television feel free to leave some advice in the comments.



Andrew / May 20, 2008 at 12:03 pm
I've been doing this for years, you get better HD for broadcast shows like Lost and the Office than Cable & Satellite can provide. And now with download caps by the ISPs its a great time to get Mythbuntu on a machine and record your own shows. Also, try pointing the antenna south to the States for all their channels!
Ry-Tron / May 20, 2008 at 12:30 pm
I tried this in the Beaches. Got fuck all. I believe one broadcast I got was definitely in HD, but there was so much white noise that the extra lines of resolution made shit of a difference, both with the internal TV antenna and an external one I bought just in case. Line of site probably made a difference as I'm in the first floor of an apartment where my living room can't see the tower.

Incidentally, when it works you can use a $5 coathanger antenna. Same thing as the "HD Ready" antennas you'll see in Future Shop. You can get'em cheap at Active Surplus and most other electronics stores (dunno why you had such a hard time finding them). If you spend more than $10 on it you're being ripped off.

More power to ya if it works, but don't be surprised if it doesn't.
Feldwebel Wolfenstool / May 20, 2008 at 12:40 pm
user-pic much better in HD does the garbage that they broadcast actually look? Other than the T & A...
aou / May 20, 2008 at 01:01 pm
I build TV antenna from a beer can recently and got all HDTV chanells from CN tower from as far as Newmarket.
jt / May 20, 2008 at 01:01 pm
hang on a second. why would "consider cancelling your subscription to your cable TV provider," if "you will no longer get free TV in Canada after August 31st, 2011" ?

how does this make sense? Am i missing somehting?
Raven / May 20, 2008 at 01:10 pm
jt: The author means that ANALOG signals are being decommissioned. Stations will be required to broadcast digital only.

BTW, STB's (set-top boxes, the first thing you require if you have an HD-Ready tv without the tuner) aren't always so easy to find in the GTA -- a lot of the television retailers will still push Rogers/Bell because they get a cut! But they are easily purchased across the border or on eBay.
aou / May 20, 2008 at 01:12 pm
"you will no longer get free TV in Canada after August 31st, 2011" - it's just a mistake. Starting 2011 you'll be able to get only Digital signal in Canada. But it still should be free of charge etc. Right now in toronto area you can get 5 digital and about 15 analog channels.
Laurence / May 20, 2008 at 02:28 pm
I've been using an antenna from day one at my apartment and have been getting decent analog signals, but CBC and CTV were always rather crappy. My LCD TV didn't have a built in tuner, but then I finally won one of the eBay auctions on a tuner box (Samsung H-260F) last week and hooked it up and wow... it's amazing. Crystal clear picture from all the local channels (minus the OMNIs - which incidentally begin broadcasting in HD/digital on June 8th) and all of the Buffalo stations. Channel 7 DTV even comes with 3 broadcasts: 1 being ABC, 1 being a 'dejaVu' channel, and 1 being a TSN-like channel which has been broadcasting live world championship hockey, cycling, skiing, everything. It's also nice getting 3 different PBS feeds.

Rogers and Bell have done a really good job at brainwashing the public into thinking the only way to get HD is through cable and satellite and paying them exorbitant monthly costs. I paid $80 + shipping for the HD box, $39.99 from Tiger Direct for a HD indoor antenna, and that's all I'll have to pay ever. That's literally 2 months of Rogers cable service.

And one key point that you missed in your article: if you have a good line of sight and a strong signal (which most people should get with the appropriate antenna and oriented correctly), the HD signals you get OTA are in fact BETTER than through cable. Rogers has to compress its HD signals in order to fit all the crap they have through that coaxial cable. Over the air offers uncompressed, full blown HD.
nick / May 20, 2008 at 02:31 pm
i can attest to the fact that you need to have a south-facing apartment or window to make this really work. about a year ago, i was craving TV again, and decided to get a cheap powered antenna at radio shack. i set it up and got bupkis, fiddled with it for hours, and still nothing, probably because of my north-facing apartment.
Steve / May 20, 2008 at 02:42 pm
I'm the same way about giving my money to Crime-Warner down here. Thanks for the tip. I've been putting off getting an HDTV. A guy here at work, the HDTV was $2,500...after all was said and done and accessoires, he walked out $4,000 poorer. I saw him a couple weeks later and asked about the TV....He said he's hardly watched it. D'oh!
chephy / May 20, 2008 at 03:42 pm
A couple of years ago I tried catching some channels with an antenna from an apartment with a view of the CN Tower. Should have been as great a signal as you could get, right? Wrong! Tons of snow and ghosting. Maybe the signal in fact was TOO strong - I was surrounded by taller apartment buildings, and it's possible the signal bounced off them and was still strong enough to show up on my screen, hence the ghosting.
W. K. Lis / May 20, 2008 at 03:51 pm
My father has an old analog television and an antenna on his roof. He does not want to buy a new television, nor does he want cable. I have been looking and looking for a digital converter box for him, but cannot find a retailer in Canada that sells them.
While the U.S. has coupons for a discount for their boxes, Canad doesn't seem it wants to do the same.
Where can I get my father a digital converter box here in Canada? He'll forgo any coupon program like what the States has.
barold / May 20, 2008 at 03:58 pm
it should be noted that this works for people with a southview. I have a nice north view that gets SFA.
John / May 20, 2008 at 04:05 pm
One thing I forgot to mention in the post is about the difference between the analog and digital frequencies. Analog uses the VHF range, which is from channel 2-13. Digital uses the UHF range, which is 14-69. The old rabbit ears style antenna is not very good at picking up UHF. A true UHF antenna is not so easy to find, especially a small indoor one of good quality.
James / May 20, 2008 at 06:20 pm
An antenna hidden in an attic is reported to work great. Depending on where you live, two antennas on a switch might work well instead of a rotor. Antennas are dirt cheap: ~$48 (or a bit over one month cable bill). Here is another good map:

There once was a time when every house had a TV antenna and no one had cable. Now, the the guy at my local TV shop told me he tries to convince people not to pay him to take them down.

What is kind of scary is that my girlfriend, a new Canadian, actually thought antennas were illegal and it was somehow stealing. She's reasonably technically savvy but never heard of the things. No wonder Rogers and Bell don't have to try very hard if they have everyone brainwashed with their constant advertising.

James / May 20, 2008 at 06:24 pm
Note to celphy above - ghosting is caused by reflections off stuff: the signal is so strong it is bouncing off everything around you. A high gain & highly directional antenna should take care of that because it only works in a narrow angle.
Victor / May 20, 2008 at 06:41 pm
I got rid of my TV years ago due to the overwhelming crap that's being broadcast. I also developed a severe allergy to commercial television (I always broke out in disgust). I just can't believe that there are still people watching it. If the quality of the programing improved with the quality of the picture then it might be time to reconsider. For now I'll stick to to downloading my entertainment.
Jordan / May 20, 2008 at 10:39 pm
Is there any way I can get CP24 without ordering cable? Not for the garbage that fills up 23 viewing hours per day...but for that golden block of time between 2 and 3 am that is old episodes of CityPulse on Rewind. I will do whatever it takes (save ordering cable) to get my hands on that every night.
J0hnnyB / May 21, 2008 at 09:20 am
Sorry, Jordan. CP24 is "Cable Pulse 24." Cable only.

Also, Victor:
uSkyscraper / May 21, 2008 at 10:13 am
Ah, I've been teasing friends in Toronto for a long time about this. The situation is great in NYC - though the cable companies are doing their best to completely hide the fact that there is amazing OTA HD digital reception and most people assume you need "digital cable" or cable boxes or whatever to get HD. I've been using a UHF antenna (plug-in type, with boost) since 2005 and get about 20 digital channels. Unlike Toronto, everything is blasted at very high power, making reception a snap no matter where you are. All networks here broadcast their primetime lineup in HD (that's 5 nets plus the two Spanish channels) in addition to public television, weird local stuff and all the secondary channels that are used for weather and local repeats. (For example, 4.1 is WNBC, 4.2 is NBC's weather service, and 4.3 is WNBC's locally produced stuff). It's truly awesome to never get a cable bill. And because it is digital, if you get the signal you get it 100%, no static - when I lived 300 ft from the Empire State Building it came in fine, and now that I live 10 miles from the ESB it still comes in the same: perfect.

For Toronto, I think this discussion may be a bit premature because the local stations are still not broadcasting at full power. In theory, with the CN Tower ready for a second life as an OTA digital broadcaster, you guys should be able to boot Rogers once all Canadian channels are broadcasting digital at full strength. What you need to do to test your location is get an HDTV with tuner, borrow a UHF antenna, and set the thing to auto-scan. You will find that the digital channels are way up on the dial, like where channel 68 would be for analog UHF. The TV will recognize this and convert them back to their "normal" channels (so that channel 4 analog broadcasts digitally on channel 68 which then becomes 4.1 on your TV)

Free your TV and use or other streaming sites for the cable shows you miss. With the internet as your TiVo and OTA as your live theatre (especially for sports) you will not regret it!
J0hnnyB / May 21, 2008 at 11:35 am
user-pic isn't an option in Canada. The streams are geo-filtered.
Ian / May 21, 2008 at 10:22 pm
"I tried this in the Beaches. Got fuck all. I believe one broadcast I got was definitely in HD, but there was so much white noise that the extra lines of resolution made shit of a difference,"

Jay-tron: it just doesn't work that way. HD broadcasts are digital. You either get a signal or you don't (or you get an intermittent signal). If you're seeing white noise or ghosting, you're watching an analog broadcast.
Newmarket / May 27, 2008 at 02:18 pm
Ok. I am posting my story and hope it will be helpful for somebody.
Location: Canada, Ontario, Newmarket (Yong & Mulock)
Distances to transmitters (
Toronto CN Tower - 29.1mi (46.8km)
Buffalo Grand Island - 76.3mi (122.8km)
Buffalo South (ABC) - 107.0mi (172.2km)
First: tried "rabbit ears" and "beer" antennas and got nothing on first and second floors of my house and almost give up?..
Second: find the instructions ( and build DB4 (2 hours project) ? have got 1 HD channel only (CBC) and almost give up? but decided move the antenna to the attic ? have got 5 HD channels instantly which confirm basic statement ?The higher, the better?.
Third: Unfortunately unable to put antenna on the roof due to by-law but fortunately my house faced to CN Tower which allows me to build DB8 (combine 2 DB4) using house structure in the attic ? have got 12 HD channels instantly (even more HD channels than I had with Rogers cable).

Going extend it to DB16 (combine 2 DB8) ???. because there is no limit for perfection ;-).

As yet have no idea why folks are still paying to the cable companies for what they can have free and sometimes in a better quality due to no compression of the signal!!!

Pookie / July 6, 2008 at 07:48 pm
Ok, I know this thread is about OTA HDTV, but unlike most of you, I still have an old tobe TV. I apologize in advance for crashing your thread ;)

I too, cancelled my cable years ago. I was sick of PAYING for commercials. You shouldn't have to PAY to watch PAID FOR advertising.

Anyhow, I live in a high-rise, and with the cable still plugged in, I get TVO, Global, CFMT, the TV GUIDE channel (interesting), CBC and APTV in good quality.

Shouldn't people without cable still be receiving CITY and CTV? Any input?

Also, any suggestions on a small antenna to use? I am on the 30th floor in Mississauga City Centre, and have a straight-on view of the CN Tower.

Pookie / July 6, 2008 at 07:49 pm
user-pic old TUBE tv.
kate / September 2, 2008 at 10:59 am
I have the same and CTV is the ONLY channel I can get a clear picture of.
Trying bunny ear antenna in hopes of getting at least CITY and Global too.
Kate / November 13, 2008 at 07:38 pm
I literally live across from the CN Tower (Blue Jays Way and Front). I know nothing about OTA but am not interested in giving my money to Rogers or Bell. I am looking to purchase a new tv and am hoping for any advice on which brand, etc. works best for OTA. Any advice would be appreciated. Also, I am on the third floor...should that matter considering I am so close to the tower? I face East/South. Thanks!
Dariusz / January 7, 2009 at 08:42 am
Would anyone have any experience about doing it farther to the west, like in Oakville, and from a house not apartment? I'm pissed of with Cogeco for paying for all that crap they give you in those "pacgages".
Sandra / January 7, 2009 at 06:21 pm

You could use the internet.
Sites like: - offering free worldwide TV (satellite) - offering free cable tv


Alberto replying to a comment from Dariusz / January 8, 2009 at 07:38 pm
Hi I live Dundas and Neyagagua Oakville,
First tried amplified RCA Antenna i Floor I get 10 HD Channels and 8 analogo ,now I using the attic
Panasonic Plasma HD
Antenna Channel Master 4228 8 bay

Andrew / February 19, 2009 at 08:57 pm
Time for a repost?
Ahpa / March 9, 2009 at 12:56 am
I cut the cable this week. $68/month is $816/year I'll put to retiring debt. Follow the instructions for the coat hanger antenna below. I paid $5.44 for the antenna parts, and $80.00 for the Digital TV converter - a Tivax STB T8 from The Source.
The antenna is not a decor enhancer, but the higher up in your dwelling it can go, the less you'll need to see it.

If you live in any location that has our faithful old CN Tower in sight, you will pick up HD signals for CBC, CFTO(CTV), CBLFT (SRC), CTS, CIII (Global), OMNI 1, CITY, OMNI 2, SUN TV, and from Hamilton CHCH. That's an indoor antenna set-up that obtained those results. You will need to move the antenna around, and have enough co-axial cable to connect it to the STB or TV.

The US signals are good from any second floor, and above. You may receive ABC, CBS, PBS (a huge feed comprising 3 discrete channels), CW, Fox, WNGS, and maybe the NBC signal. Again, you will need to move the antenna around, and rescan with the STB or HDTV to find these.

TVO is not broadcasting in HD yet, but has an assigned frequency.

If you are in any of the towers in Toronto, North York, Etobicoke, or southern Scarborough, and you face the tower, or lake, tell your cable provider to shove it, build one of these things, and connect it to a digital TV converter, or your very new television. Watch anything else you crave on the interweb.

This URL wraps, make sure to get it all.
Seeker / March 9, 2009 at 02:20 pm
I dont suppose theres a solution for me here in Ottawa?
Ahpa replying to a comment from Seeker / March 10, 2009 at 09:39 pm
Look up your address at this website:

with the arrows indicating >>start here<<

I did it for my old address on Hunt Club Rd, and all the Canadian signals are available.

However, being south of Uplands/McDondald Cartier Airport would help to bring in Watertown, or Ogdensburg. An external mast would assure it more so.

If you lived in Richmond, Kars, Manotick, Metcalfe or the town that used to assemble Sears televisions - Prescott, the signal from the U.S. is highly attainable. Those living on this section of the Seaway/St Lawrence, are likely to receive mostly US HD signals with ease.

If you live in other Ottawa suburbs you may need to move to another city to improve your over the air reception!
FreeTV / March 22, 2009 at 12:46 pm
The VHF Band, Channels 1 - 13 use the same frequencies on cable as over the air. The UHF band channels 14 - 69 use different frequencies on cable and over the air - this is important.

So, If using an antenna, make sure your TV is set to "Antenna" or "Air" - especially if you find you're getting some analog signals OK (Ch 5, Ch 9) etc, but are having problems with other higher channels, this setting is usually in the menu of your TV.

- VHF stations will come in via antenna regardless of whether the TV is set to cable or antenna, but UHF channels will not.

Digital channels in the Toronto/Buffalo areas are currently ALL broadcast on UHF channels, although PSIP channel mapping can label a channel with it's traditional number, and most broadcasters have chosen to do so - for example CFTO/CTV broadcasts digitally on UHF ch40, however a digital set will display 9.1 or 9-1.

The Indelible Bonobo / April 29, 2009 at 01:17 pm
I wish your article was a bit clearer. Here are some points to remember:
1. DTV is much more finicky than good ole analog. In most cases, an analog antenna just won't cut it. This is why most ppl trying OTA DTV fail to get any picture at all.
2. The protocol for DTV has a spec for the set-top (or ATSC) to control antenna orientation, much like satellite, but so far no such box implements it.
3. A good antenna will set you back around $200 minimum. Look for directional rather than "universal" and adjust it well when installing b/c those that claim to "catchall" introduce noise in amplification.
4. Personally, I'm using a Linux MCE system. I get my DTV fix using a PC-HDTV Linux (PCI) card, which I strongly recommend.
Cow lover / April 30, 2009 at 01:51 am
You can also get a bunch of free tv on your computer. This is the most in depth guide to get started in free online tv. It compares the most popular types of Internet tv.
Brian / July 26, 2009 at 01:52 pm
If I dump Rogers and use any antenna, is it possible to view the sports channels (RSO & TSN) which I thought were cable-only? Except for Leafs on Saturday night (ha ha), there isn't much sports on regular channels any more.
Ahpa / July 28, 2009 at 10:30 pm
Sorry Brian,

Those are exclusive channels that do not broadcast over-the-air. Your cable / satellite subscription funds them, as do their collected advertising dollars.

Perhaps look at justin (dot) tv and input the games you are looking for. That site is loaded with streamed sports. I'm doing that for CFL games.

Paul Trasisi / August 13, 2009 at 04:16 am
Solche Blogeinträge beleben wirklich den Tag.
Peter replying to a comment from nick / October 26, 2009 at 04:33 pm
All indoor antennas or rabbit ears are an outdoor antenna and use it indoors!!! of the four bay digital uhf Antennas sold in computer stores on college st cost about $20-$40. Toronto,hang it on the wall or window or balcony.
Peter replying to a comment from John / October 26, 2009 at 04:36 pm
Buy an outdoor antenna such as a channel master 4 bay model and use it indoors
Dan / November 9, 2009 at 06:52 pm
Hey...Just to let Peter know that all indoor antennas are not alike...We are in Oshawa and I got fed up with paying Rogers so we did a bit of research and bought a Terk amplified HDTV indoor antenna for $50 and it works great...Pain in the butt to aim but after it's aimed it's pretty good...We are not in the best spot but we get about 15 channels, most of them crystal clear...if this were in an apartment building I honestly believe it would be awesome

Having said that I need more( lol ). Can anyone recommend a really good outdoor antenna that won't put me into the poor house????
Rod / December 27, 2009 at 07:26 pm
I just got an awsome plasma tv for xmas but I really dont want to pay for cable or satellite, so I went to buy an indoor antenna but man, I can not see anything but snow and the 5 channels I got are in a really bad noisy quality I live in the 19th floor but my apartment faces north, so I dont know if that is why. Any suggestions??
weewewq replying to a comment from Brian / February 2, 2010 at 03:07 pm
What are they telling you man go to and find any sports game world wide and enjoy dude!
TheRealTruth replying to a comment from Newmarket / February 25, 2010 at 09:19 pm
Not true. Did you call the Town of Newmarket? No such by-law against antennas exist in Newmarket.
Heather / March 1, 2010 at 11:54 am
Can you use a PVR machine with this way of watching TV
Heather / March 1, 2010 at 11:55 am
Can you use a PVR machine with this form of tv watching?
brenda replying to a comment from aou / March 24, 2010 at 11:13 am
I need to look at setting up my own reception for cable service. The price of cable tv continues to go up and up. Could you recommmend some good sites that could coach me through the process? I am not a "techical" whiz by any means, but I do have a neighbor that works with "signals" in the military, and he is willing to assist. Just need a starting point.
adt / March 28, 2010 at 03:51 am
Thanks to OTA TV fans and columnists, I successfully installed my outdoor antenna and got 23 HD channels just before The Earth day minutes on West Mountain, Hamilton. I am getting 23 HD channels from my 42” Panasonic HDTV with a clone 8 bay Digiwave antenna mounted on chimney aimed at Toronto & Buffalo. The picture quality is amazing; natural & rich of color.

TV needs varies from person/family to personfamily and for families like mine whose TV needs are minimal, local channels are enough. TREE HOUSE was the one that kept us cable so far as it is not available in OTA but I am going to use Online. Adding to that, I am curious how much ‘free’ TV might make all family members comfortable in terms of the content – I am going to observe.

After a week search for a mast that couldbe errected next to my house, I found it at the nutechelectronis ( of Hamilton, but could cost me about CND300 with out labour. The chimney installation set was about CND70 and the whole project cost me about CND 140 (that was 2 month and 22.5 days TV bill). It is worthy to mention the contribution of the guy at nutechelectronics – knowledgeable, very helpful, understanding and honest.

Question – should I ground it?

These are the channells I got on first shot.

Displayed Channel Code Actual Channel Call Sign Network Location
2.1 33.1 WGRZ DT NBC Buffalo, NY
2.2 33.2 WGRZ DT WTHR+ Buffalo, NY
4.1 39.1 WIBV DT CBS Buffalo, NY
5.1 20.1 CBLT DT CBC Toronto, ON
7.1 38.1 WKBW DT ABC Buffalo, NY
9.1 40.1 CFTO DT CTV Toronto, ON
11.1 18.1 CHCH DT E! Hamilton, ON
15.1 15.1 CKXT DT SUN Hamilton, ON
17.1 43.1 WNED DT PBS-HD Buffalo, NY
17.2 43.2 WNED DT PBS-SD Buffalo, NY
17.3 43.3 WNED DT THINK Buffalo, NY
23.1 32.1 WNLO DT CW Buffalo, NY
25.1 24.1 CBLFT DTSRC Toronto, ON
26.1 27.1 WNYB DT TBN-HD Buffalo, NY
26.2 27.2 WNYB DT TBN-SD Buffalo, NY
29.1 14.1 WUTV DT FOX-HD Buffalo, NY
36.1 35.1 CITS DT CTS Hamilton, ON
41.1 65.1 CIII DT GLOBAL Toronto, ON
44.1 44.1 CJMT DT OMNI2 Toronto, ON
49.1 34.1 CJMT DT My-HD Buffalo, NY
57.1 53.1 CITY DT CITY Toronto, ON
64.1 64.1 CFMT DT OMNI1 Toronto, ON
66.1 66.1 CKXT DT SUN Toronto, ON
Total of Channels = 23
Toronto, ON = 8
Buffalo, NY = 12
Hamilton, ON = 3
KAG replying to a comment from adt / May 17, 2010 at 11:43 pm
Is there no other cartoon network channel available to substitute for treehouse? I have a 5 yr old and will need something similar to treehouse...........
S / May 18, 2010 at 12:38 am
Won't miss TVOntario. They suck.
Ahpa / June 18, 2010 at 01:23 am
It is good to see all these antennas on roofs, walls, and windows in this city. In February, we watched the Olympics on CTV in high definition with a free Over The Air signal, and it was a great experience.

Just to re-iterate: this is free, legal, and accessible with the built in ATSC tuner in your HDTV. Do not believe what is written on the exterior of the television packaging, you do NOT need cable, nor satellite to get a High Definition television signal. You need a good quality antenna, and some time at this Oakville company's web site:

The Canadian television industry was reminded again that the deadline for the switchover on August 31 2011 to digital signals would not be extended. In Canada, broadcasters and consumers are going to see the same stupid freakout that happened in the US last summer.

If you have a new television (from 2008 or later), or an HD converter box, then you are ready, and need do nothing more.

andrea vaughan / September 5, 2010 at 07:44 am
i just installed a cheap ($16) digital antenna on my 12th flr west facing balcony in scarborough, the "free to air" hd channels are awsim :-) i'm a happy camper and any1 who pays for basic cable is a fool. Although a south west facing exposer is ideal a gd antenna will improve reception even under less than ideal location
Bill / September 10, 2010 at 01:21 am
I live in a townhouse near highland creek in scarborough. I purchased a hdtv indoor outdoor antenna while on a trip in Branson Missouri. I left it in the box for about a year and finally one day I hooked it up to one of my new hd tv's which has both types of tuners. In the house I recieved about 5 digital channels. I installed it pointing south and now recieve all of the Toronto stations cbcm cfto city global,omni one and omni two sun tv and channel 2.1 2.2 2.3 4.1 CBS 7.1 ABC 23.1 29.1 Fox 49.1 and each of them are clearer then the hd channels i receive via satellite. Sometimes, weather permitting I get a few Rochester Stations as well. You find some days the signal varies on some of them, but I think they are doing maintenance from time to time. My only disappointment is I cannot get CHCH from Hamilton
Bill / September 10, 2010 at 01:30 am
Its Bill again. I forgot to mention I also get channel 26.1 and 26.2 from Buffalo and some times I get Channel 51.1 and 51.2 and 51.2 from Buffalo. It is too bad that some of the sports and speciality channels are not required to broadcast on the air like the local and network channels
Rob / September 25, 2010 at 07:33 pm
I live in Kitchener Ontario in a 1/2 basement apt. (i.e. a window but 1/2 foundation in ground... no balcony) facing west (a slight hill on this side also). The building entrance obstructs a clear line south (i.e. a overhang with extended entrance). Using rabbits ears on a Quasar TV (i.e. older but not tube and not HD) I only get one channel with some snow/distortion. There must be a way of getting a better signal and/or more channels (for free or low cost). Any brilliant ideas (without scaling the building (5 floors - steel construction).... HELP!!!
peter / October 3, 2010 at 04:22 pm
Just baught an indoor, Amplified set of rabbit ears and all I get is snow and Omni 2 and its all in hindi. and it fades in and out. What am i doing wrong? I was sure that being in Toronto I'd get at least one or two channels. I do live on the ground floor of a highrise and my windows face east. Any advice would be apprecated.
ahpa / October 8, 2010 at 02:47 am
There are too many obstacles here. You need a current model television (from 2008 or later) or an external ASTC tuner/conversion box hooked to the Quasar. You are not able to receive an HD signal with what you have.

That hooks up to an antenna (not rabbit ears, more like several stacked bow ties). The antenna needs to be up high, facing a transmitting HD signal, and ideally, outside your apartment. KW is just a bit too far to pick up Toronto, and Buffalo. Consider moving!

The indoor antennas are not good devices. If you live West of the CN tower and your windows face east great, you may be able to improve things. If you live in Scarborough, and you face Pickering, that will not pick up anything. The Canadian signals are from the CN Tower. CHCH is on Hamilton Mountain, and the Buffalo stations are on Grand Island. HDTV overt the air relies on aiming the antenna at those transmitters, and rescanning to pick up the best strength.

I encourage all readers to read this Oakville company's site:

Radd / October 22, 2010 at 08:33 am
I have a south facing view, downtown Toronto and a HDTV. I get 23 channels, 22 in HDTV. I bought a $14.00 interior RCA bunny ears and mounted it on my balcony. I only miss F1 / CART races. So much TV is on DVD or the web.
Radd / October 22, 2010 at 10:36 am
Thanks to ADT for the below lineup, I have edited for my reception in Downtown Toronto. Go to a Electronics store @ Wellesley and Younge Sts, SW corner, $14.00 RCA antenna, and if it shorts out, buy another one.

2.1 33.1 WGRZ DT NBC Buffalo, NY
2.2 33.2 NBC Universal Sports - WGRZ DT Buffalo, NY
2.3 Retro TV WGRZ DT - Buffalo, NY
4.1 39.1 WIBV DT CBS Buffalo, NY
5.1 20.1 CBLT DT CBC Toronto, ON
7.1 38.1 WKBW DT ABC Buffalo, NY
9.1 40.1 CFTO DT CTV Toronto, ON
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17.1 43.1 WNED DT PBS-HD Buffalo, NY
17.2 43.2 WNED DT PBS-SD Buffalo, NY
17.3 43.3 WNED DT THINK Buffalo, NY
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26.2 27.2 WNYB DT TBN-SD Buffalo, NY
29.1 14.1 WUTV DT FOX-HD Buffalo, NY
41.1 65.1 CIII DT GLOBAL Toronto, ON
44.1 44.1 CJMT DT OMNI2 Toronto, ON
49.1 34.1 WNYO DT Buffalo, NY
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57.1 53.1 CITY DT CITY Toronto, ON
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S / December 12, 2010 at 07:18 pm
Told a friend about this story. She lives in an apartment (22 stories high) Scarborough, facing east but can see the lake. Would she get some channels?
Ahpa replying to a comment from S / December 14, 2010 at 12:24 am
These things are so cheap, why not go buy one on College at one of the computer stores, plug it in to the new monitor, and scan on the antenna setting. She will probably pick up quite a few. Is there a balcony? Are you able to see the lake, and downtown? It's $15 to $20 to try it, and she may always upgrade to a better piece of equipment if the results are favorable. More incentive, Global did a total botch of SNL this weekend. When you see the unaltered NBC signal you get all the cues, and set moves in a way you don't when Global substitutes its signal atop the US feed. Buy an early gift for her, and let us know how it turns out.
bisoune replying to a comment from jt / December 19, 2010 at 02:03 am
your missing that you will not get free analog TV... but you will get free digital HDTV...
bossmon replying to a comment from J0hnnyB / December 19, 2010 at 08:02 pm
actually it's city pulse 24 not cable pulse
Petr / April 26, 2011 at 09:50 pm
too bad i cant get the signal because my condo faces the north and cant get anything besides streaks of colours
anyone have any suggestions?
Ahpa replying to a comment from Petr / May 14, 2011 at 02:05 am
Others are in the same positions. Read what users did at this site:

Neil (North York, Toronto, Ontario)
I was in last weekend and bought a Winegard Square Shooter. I'm in a condo 7th floor facing NW, I was hoping to receive signals bouncing off the other condo buildings north of me but found my best result was actually pointing the antenna towards Buffalo going through the rest of the building. I have a Hauppauge HVR-1600 in a mythbox and for some reason the signal strength doesn't work so I have to watch the channel to gauge how well it is being received, and makes pointing difficult. I am facing North west and still getting over 20 digital channels and is much better than my previous indoor or homemade antenna.

Perhaps pointing it facing south (through the building), or using one of the models for this purpose may help your case.
Didi / June 2, 2011 at 02:06 pm
i've a relatively new toshiba (26wl37) but from willowdale (sheppard @ bayview) with my four-bay antenna i'm able to get only analog channels. i see that some of the folk talk about channels like 5.1, 44.1 (or 5-1, 44-1), and i've no idea what that means, for my tv is able to point at whole-number channels only. is it that my tv set doesn't have the atcs tuner, or is it that willowdale can't "see" the cn tower?
Ahpa / June 5, 2011 at 11:13 pm
Your television is fine. Please use the menu to re-scan for 'over the air', or, 'air' or, 'antenna' and select digital channels or similar wording. Some of the set ups for scanning default to cable, satellite or analog, and not the digital signal.

Willowdale's fine, you're even higher up on the gradual climb out of downtown and the Tower, and Buffalo should be easy to pickup. Positioning the antenna and rescanning may be necessary several times to get the best results.
Carrie / July 8, 2011 at 08:56 am
I live in Etobicoke and have new TV and rabbit ears (HD ones). So far we can get HD signals from TO and US some days depending on the weather as much as anything else !! It's really annoying to be watching a show then half way through it the good picture suddenly disappears for good.
The room our TV is in has a large west facing window and a smaller south facing window.
I wonder if the hundreds of Condos going up are affecting our signals ?
Help I don't want to get cable in Sept if I can help it , how can I get a good steady signal ???? Thanks
Marlon / July 8, 2011 at 09:09 am
Doesn't everybody have their laptop hooked up to their flatscreen with a cordless keyboard and mouse on the coffee table watching any tv or movie on icefilms or one of the many other stream sites?

I'm looking forward to five years from now when flatscreens have built in computers and your smartphone is your remote keyboard/mouse. The Internet should have killed cable tv years ago
Didi / July 8, 2011 at 09:16 am
My Toshiba TV was not OK, didn't have an atsc tuner. I acquired a new one, with atsc tuner, and that works. I got 12 digital channels.

However, the problem I'm facing now is that sometimes all channels are perfect, at times i can't connect to some of them at all, and at times some of them are scrambled.

The antenna is fixed (on the chimney), and I've no idea what influences the signal reception. It's a mystery to me.

Has anybody experienced something like that?
jaye / August 27, 2011 at 09:37 am
i live in the bush in rural ontario. i do have a tv with a built in digital tuner. i'm wondering if just extending some antenna wire high up in a tree would suffice. what does an antenna do, anyway?
Ahpa / September 4, 2011 at 12:55 am
The analogy for an antenna is like this: think of a tuning fork, when it is struck it resonates at its particular frequency. That's the broadcast tower. In the room is another tuning fork using the same musical pitch it too will resonate at the same frequency. That's your antenna. It is responding to specific frequencies.
For considerably more information go here:;f=81
andi replying to a comment from J0hnnyB / September 18, 2011 at 02:02 pm
You give up way too easily. I watch Hulu all the time (and Netflix US, which is way better than .ca) - Enjoy!
andi replying to a comment from J0hnnyB / September 18, 2011 at 02:04 pm
You give up way too easily. I watch Hulu all the time (and Netflix US, which is way better than .ca) - Enjoy!
andi replying to a comment from J0hnnyB / September 18, 2011 at 02:05 pm
You give up way too easily. I watch Hulu all the time (and Netflix US, which is way better than .ca) - Enjoy!
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Peter replying to a comment from Alex Sirota / December 15, 2011 at 09:22 pm
I had wonderful reception on my boat over on the island in the the summer had about 20 channels in HD. Really all I want is TVO and CBC but the others have some value. Now I'm in my winter home in Yorkville I only get one which I don't even recognize. I have tried putting my antenna up on the roof with very little improvement. Is there an antenna that you could recommend. I'm happy to put the work in mounting it high on a pole and facing south. I just need a supplier of a real antenna rather than the plastic crap that future shop sells that simply doesn't work unless you are a stones throw from the CN tower.

THanks, Peter
Colin / January 11, 2012 at 12:53 pm
Hey, has anyone noticed CTV blocking the Daily Show and Colbert Report on CTV in Toronto through the antenna for the last two episodes? Am I crazy or does my antenna just stop working the past few nights during the first 5 seconds of the Daily Show?
Ziad replying to a comment from Colin / January 12, 2012 at 12:16 am
Colin, you're not crazy... I noticed it too. First night I thought I lost tge signal. Its 3 nights in a row... I wonder why?
Dave replying to a comment from Ziad / January 18, 2012 at 11:19 pm
I found the following while searching for the answer:

Apparently this was posted on their Facebook page

"Hi everyone - producer Maurice here with some information for those who watch CTV Toronto over-the-air (antenna).

Maintenance work is being carried out on the 'Channel 9' transmitter inside the CN Tower. Work started on Jan. 10 and is expected to last 4-6 weeks.

Because the work can't be completed while the transmitter is on, it's powered down from 0:05 a.m. until 5:30 a.m. from Monday to Friday."
Carla / February 7, 2012 at 04:50 am
I read some of the postings here and I'm confused.
I currently have Rogers cable. My cable bill is about $150/month which includes 2 HD cable boxes.
A friend keeps telling me to get Netflix & cancel the cable. I haven't done thi because I'm unsure that I'm going to be able to watch my shows. My son is a huge NBA fan & I am subscribed to the Sports pack for him so he can watch all the games. He tells me we need to keep the cable because otherwise he won't be able to watch all the games. (NBA pass online apparently blocks some of the games.)

Now I'm reading some of these comments and I just don't know what to do. I feel like I being robbed by Rogers!!!

Can someone help me out and give me some advise as to the options available. I live in north Scarbourough (just south of Markham) in a house.

Rodimus Prime replying to a comment from KAG / February 7, 2012 at 05:42 am
All you will get if you de-subscribe your cable is the standard Saturday morning block, AND NOTHING ELSE. You can get SOME of the Treehouse shows on TV Ontario, CBC, or PBS, but not all. Also, you won't be getting Spongebob Squarepants, Pokemon, or anything else animated except for what's on CBS, NBC, ABC, and CBC on Saturday mornings. Just a little FYI.
Confused / February 27, 2012 at 10:53 am

I haven't had cable in years. I did however have free cable with Antenna/Rabbit ears until August 31st, 2011 once it hit midnight, was SNOW! I tried to place them differently but it did not work, so, I'm confused as to how any of you are still able to get free cable?? please let me know your secret and or how/where to get one of those boxes?
Ray / February 27, 2012 at 04:12 pm
Just a response to Ry-tron. He apparently knows "sweet f-- all" about OTA. With digital you either get a full beautiful picture or NOT. There is no in between like with analog over the air signals so you won't get ghosting or partial signals. I am in the beaches as well. I pickup all local stations plus stations 60 miles away in New York state. OTA is amazing!
Ron / February 27, 2012 at 04:35 pm
Last Cogeco increase combined with its sorry equipment maintenance of street boxes has me planning OTA. Can anyone advise me of residential restrictions on rooftop antennas in Oakville Ontario? (Town website is obtuse as ever...)
Windsor Serviced Apartments / March 2, 2012 at 07:06 pm
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Jon / September 4, 2012 at 01:31 am
Hi every one. It is September 2012 and I moved to a basement apartment few months ago. My landloard offered me to get rogers but they wanted to charge me 80 more for a shared basic channel. I did not get it. What are my choices now. I did not have any TV for a long time! I live in North York. I purchased all types of indoor antenna, none worked for me. Now what other options do I have? I heard there are people who play with some bottoms on the back of the tv an they can get free channels for life. I have an HD big tv. I just do not know where to find those quality specialists who do that for you. You shoud know some one who is an electrical engineer knowing how to do it for you I guess! You can get free channels for free for life! But what are my other choice living in a basement apartment??! Shaw direct is offering channels and Internet services. Is Direct TV is the new Shaw Company? I owed some money few years back to Direct TV but now they are changed to Shaw TV.Would that change your bills history since they are changed to a new name?? Any help is appreciated
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I am used now to the recording device from Bell or Rogers and like watching tv without the commercials.
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You forgot to list free legal satellite TV as an option. With a 36 inch dish and an HD FTA satellite receiver, you can receive about 85 English channels with over 10 of those in HD on Ku Band FTA satellite. If you have room for a bigger dish to receive C band FTA satellite, you can get even more with over 200 additional English channels and over 50 of them in HD. All currently available FTA satellite channels are listed at

In addition to these full time channels, you may also receive temporary “wild feed” channels which don’t appear on the above list but carry many sporting & special events along with breaking news coverage. You may find these channels yourself by rescanning certain satellites on your receiver or by following a few feed hunting groups such as the Dr. Sat SatHunters Club at

These channels are unencrypted so they are legally available for free with no monthly subscription and complement nicely the channels you may already receive using an OTA antenna. However unlike OTA, FTA satellite offers near-nationwide coverage which is great for people who have a limited amount of OTA channels available in their area.
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