Did TNRD veto North Thompson Valley TV?

Reader questions Thompson Nicola Regional District on why North Thompson Valley TV has been cancelled

To the editor;

Here is a letter that I have prepared to send to TNRD and whatever other politicians or groups it will take to fix the defunct LTSS / Rebroadcast Service…

On the last week of August, 2014 the residents of Thompson Nicola Regional District (TNRD) area “O” learned by means of a mass mailed letter that the rebroadcast service will be discontinued in 2015, BUT, an alternative solution was available by application, and if they qualified, the residents would receive service by using Local Television Satellite Solution (LTSS) FREE for five years.  All one had to do was phone, apply, schedule the install and then sit back and enjoy up to 10 channels for the next five years FOR FREE!  At first I was a bit confused with the letter I received because, although it was dated August 31, 2014, but I was reading it a day earlier than it was supposed to have been drafted, so I speculated something may be amiss.

I took the opportunity to call the Shaw Direct TV toll free number noted on the letter and apply on behalf of my mom in Louis Creek, who returned to antennae television service about two years ago after briefly trying satellite service.  Her reasons for returning to antennae was simple, she never watched sufficient programming to justify the money spent for the minimum mandatory program package ($50.00/month), and being on a single fixed income, she could see her money better spent on necessities such as food, shelter, insurance(s), medication, etc.  The Shaw rep I spoke with emphasized that August 31st was the deadline to apply, even though the letter in my hand indicated the application deadline was November 30, 2014.

I felt the rep was genuine with his “time is of the essence” spiel, but I remained cautiously optimistic regarding the entire concept of something for FREE.  I requested the application for installation be sent to mom via Canada Post while the rep reassured me that the action I was carrying out today on the phone would still guarantee her a space in the queue before their August 31st, 2014 deadline despite the TNRD letter indicating the deadline was November 30th, 2014, equal to a full three months difference.

Once we received the paper application it would allow mom and I to carefully read the contract rather than make a knee-jerk reactive decision right now over the phone.  After almost a month the application still had not arrived in the mail, so I made a follow up call to the same toll free number and after being on hold for over 30 minutes I was given a lot of excuses and some finger pointing and the finger was pointing at our regional district.

According to Shaw Direct, my regional district knew about the LTSS program over two years ago, but failed to inform residents in a timely manner, now the program had expired and the contract with Shaw Direct was complete, fulfilled on or before the expiration date due because the contracted quota of systems available for the LTSS program were already spoken for.  However, Shaw would not verify each regional district by name, as I tried to reinforce whether our TNRD had failed to provide Area O residents with sufficient notice for this program.  I also learned my call placed to them on August 30th was nowhere to be found in their database and because the contract was over it was not open for discussion.  I then called the individual noted in the August letter at the TNRD office and had a conversation with a sincere individual who was logging complaints regarding the LTSS programme and providing some assistance as to what I should do next and what the TNRD is hoping will happen to remedy the ugly situation that was now brewing.

He also said they (TNRD) did not know about the LTSS option until May 2014 and he advised me to write MP Cathy McLeod a.s.a.p., which I acted on the next evening.  MP McLeod’s assistant responded within 24 hours of receiving my email and we spoke about the LTSS situation; the result was, there was nothing they could do to help, and then pointed the finger to the TNRD.

I have heard rumblings that someone affiliated with the TNRD reported to a decision maker that everyone in the TNRD area either uses cable or satellite.

Well, I may not be everyone, but I am someone and I find this rather interesting because no one came and knocked on my door to ask me how I received my television service at East Barriere Lake, nor did they stop by my mom’s place in Louis Creek, and neither of us recalls a telephone or written survey or receiving any mail out until August 30th, 2014.

The letter received in August refers to the rebroadcast equipment as follows: “With today’s technology, the service has become obsolete and it is extremely difficult to obtain equipment and parts to make repairs when needed”.

The letter also goes on to say “….the service is paid through annual taxation by all property owners but may only be used by a handful of residents……..”.

So, I ask, with the discontinuation of this service in 2015, can we all expect a drop in taxes?  I know this is not typically how taxes work in the real world and I am pretty sure everyone pays for services they currently do not use or may never use, but, if this is how it works within the TNRD jurisdictional boundaries please note, I no longer have a child in school, please remove the school tax amount from my property notices and please make it retroactive for all the years I never had a child in school.  Also, I never used several roads in the area; please reimburse me proportionately for their maintenance.

I am getting tired of the finger pointing, numerous excuses, and the blame game, not to mention the time I have spent chasing after the elusive LTSS service during my evenings or days off work.

Whoever dropped the ball on this must step forward and accept responsibility for choosing to discontinue a service that some taxpayers still rely on.  Who is it that has the power to decide without proper research these TV antennae users are few in number?

If so few people use the TV antennae style service, why is it that Shaw Direct and TNRD both confirmed >30,000 of the FREE LTSS systems were applied for and processed before Area “O” residents even received notice of the plans to discontinue the rebroadcast service equipment in our area?

Why did some residents have a heads up prior to August 31st and are already enjoying their FREE satellite service, and how can we sign up for this secret club?  It may not be a human right to have television service, but, shouldn’t everyone be given an affordable option?

“With today’s technology” why does one have to choose between TV programming or necessities of life?  It appears technology is widening the gap between those who can afford and those who cannot afford, not to mention those that can comprehend advancing technology and those that cannot.  I guess those who cannot are more or less considered less worthy by the “Big Brass” who goes about making changes without adequate consultation.  These decision makers obviously have decided the “handful” of antennae users don’t need to watch the local or provincial news, hear weather alerts or road closures, and they certainly don’t need to watch entertaining programming such as sitcoms, game shows, night time drama or movies for therapeutic, pleasure or respite purposes.

I know there was a time when few homes had televisions, yet those few, maybe just a “handful”, were still provided with rebroadcast services paid for by all tax payers whether they had a television in their home or not.  All my mom is asking for is clear TV reception for the three channels she was accustomed to years ago, any more would be a gift, but is not necessary.

S. C. Cesselli

Barriere, B.C.