Question for Canadian TCM viewers

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s.w.a.c.
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Question for Canadian TCM viewers

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:25 am

Just spent a half-hour on the phone with my local cable company, explaining aspect ratios and trying to find out what happened last Thursday when the SD version of TCM via Eastlink Cable in Halifax went from showing the channel in a 1.33:1 ratio (with black bars on the sides) to a compressed 16X9 image where the films are actually vertically squeezed, and no amount of playing around with the controls on my remote or settings in my cable box and TV can make them look right again.

The second person I talked to went and turned on a TV and noted the issue, and talked to a technician who said that was the signal they were receiving, so it was happening further up the chain. Has anyone else getting TCM in Canada noticed this problem? Trying to figure out if it's a nationwide (or even North America-wide) problem, or just something local.
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Re: Question for Canadian TCM viewers

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:28 am

Considering how much I pay for cable, and the fact that TCM is pretty much the only reason I have it (their streaming service is not available in Canada), you'd think it'd be worth their while to look into it. I noted that on the next channel over, AMC (SD version), they were showing episodes of M*A*S*H in the proper square-ish ratio, which fills the screen top-to-bottom (with black bars on the sides).
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Re: Question for Canadian TCM viewers

Unread post by boblipton » Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:29 am

I just turned my channel briefly to TCM (playing Keep Your Powder Dry), Channel 82 on Manhattan's Spectrum (formerly Time-Warner Cable) system. Correct aspect ratio, black bars at the side.

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TerryC
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Re: Question for Canadian TCM viewers

Unread post by TerryC » Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:41 am

This has happened before a few years ago. They were even doing it on their SD channel. I complained and later in went away just as mysteriously as it started.

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Re: Question for Canadian TCM viewers

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Mon Jun 25, 2018 8:14 am

TerryC wrote:This has happened before a few years ago. They were even doing it on their SD channel. I complained and later in went away just as mysteriously as it started.
I found a thread on a Canadian Rogers Cable message board from a few years ago complaining about a similar glitch (if not the exact same one), again with TCM, on both the SD and HD channels. In that instance, everything became pillar-boxed (unnecessary black bars on the sides) and the pre-scope 1.33:1 titles were being doubly pillar-boxed/squeezed.

This is kind of the same thing, except the image is being squished from the top and the bottom. Matted widescreen and scope titles are stretched to the edges, but also squeezed top and bottom, so it doesn't matter what you're watching, it's all distorted and unwatchable.

I've called the cable company, and tweeted their service desk and TCM as well. Hopefully at some point someone pushes the button that restores the picture to what it was. TCM Canada is a separate signal from the U.S. version, because they occasionally have to substitute titles they don't have the rights to broadcast in Canada, not sure if that signal originates in the U.S. or is funneled through a different source here.
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Re: Question for Canadian TCM viewers

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:17 pm

Tried dealing with the cable company's online technical support, since the TV at work is displaying the same image issue as my TV at home. But they told me they couldn't help me unless I was at home. And of course, they're in some other part of the world, so they can't see the channel that I'm talking about. How they're supposed to fix an issue when they can't even see the signal is beyond me. Might as well take a car to a blind mechanic.
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Re: Question for Canadian TCM viewers

Unread post by Jim Roots » Thu Jun 28, 2018 6:38 am

Not quite related to Stephen's complaint, but that won't stop me from posting this...

As faithful fans know, the only chance I get to see TCM is when I stay at a certain Toronto hotel on trips. Well, I stayed there this week and discovered the hotel has switched servers from Rogers Cable to Shaw Satellite.

Their TV sets remain unchanged, however. And that created a problem.

TCM and about four other channels that were provided as standard channel packages by Rogers are now satellite-by-subscription channels from Shaw. This meant that when I turned the TV to channel 52, the designated TCM channel, I got a screen telling me to go to channel 531. But the set doesn't go to 531 -- it only takes two-digit channel numbers.

Room service had to go in the basement and open 531 only for my room. That meant the signal arrived in my room incomplete. The picture was all right (it seemed a little dull), but the captioning was completely screwed up. Which meant I couldn't watch TCM anyway!

Canadians love to bitch about Rogers and Bell, but as far as technological issues are concerned, I've always found Shaw to be the absolute worst provider.

Jim

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Re: Question for Canadian TCM viewers

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:01 am

Yikes, these companies really know how to shoot themselves in the foot.

In the end, I had to book an appointment with a technician to come to my house in order for them to look at the problem. I will concede that there's a chance my cable box could be out of date (although I feel I swapped it out with them not that long ago when my previous DVR bit the dust), but the fact the TV at work exhibits the same issue as my setup at home makes it seem like it's a broadcast issue, not a home equipment issue.

I guess I'll find out tomorrow evening between 5:30 and 8 p.m.
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Re: Question for Canadian TCM viewers

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Fri Jun 29, 2018 8:13 am

UPDATE: TCM-SD in Canada is currently showing Fritz Lang's M in the proper aspect ratio. However, it is now windowboxed on all sides, whereas before, Academy ratio films filled the screen from top to bottom, with black bars on the side.

It's half an improvement, at any rate, as I can hit the zoom button on my remote and the picture fills the screen without losing its shape, but at the loss of some resolution. M doesn't look so bad zoomed, it's probably the most recent restoration, but I'm sure other TCM titles not freshly remastered won't look so great zoomed.

I'll wait until they show a widescreen or 'scope film to see how this latest "upgrade" affects them...
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Re: Question for Canadian TCM viewers

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Fri Jun 29, 2018 3:13 pm

Cable technician came to my house and at least cleared up what has happened (I had to register for a service call in order for my complaint to be valid, I guess Eastlink Cable doesn't believe there could possibly be problems at their end). As suspected, the signal they're receiving for a number of channels was reformatted last Thursday, apparently without their technicians knowing about it. Since the start of the week, they've been dealing with multiple complaints for multiple channels, and are trying to fix the problem in-house since there doesn't seem to be any chance of their signal provider changing the "improved" picture back. It looks like a "window boxed" image for Academy ratio films on TCM is how it's going to be from here on in. Still not 100% sure how matted widescreen and 'scope films will be affected.

I'll hold off cutting the cord for now, but I'm less than thrilled. Sadly, Filmstruck and TCM On-Demand are not available options here.
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Rick Lanham
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Re: Question for Canadian TCM viewers

Unread post by Rick Lanham » Fri Jun 29, 2018 6:25 pm

Thanks for keeping us up to date.

TCM is normal here in the southern US. I saw parts of M, The Maltese Falcon, and all of The Conspirators (1944) today. The Conspirators had a rather dark print, but was not window boxed. Neither were the others.

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Re: Question for Canadian TCM viewers

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Sat Jun 30, 2018 11:02 am

The best that I can gather is that whoever provides the signal for Eastlink Cable in Halifax (the tech said they get it from Boston) is now using the same signal for TCM HD and TCM SD, and something got screwed up in the down-conversion process for SD, or somehow they're not 100% compatible. Like I said earlier, I can watch Academy ratio films by hitting the zoom button (I didn't have to before), and the loss of resolution isn't the worst thing I've ever seen, but it also means that I can no longer record 1.33 (or 1.37) titles to my DVD burner and get a full screen image. Not that I record oodles of titles off TCM, but it was nice to save a copy when they aired something rare like The Story of Temple Drake and so on.
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Re: Question for Canadian TCM viewers

Unread post by Donald Binks » Sat Jun 30, 2018 5:16 pm

Seeing as they are sending you a smaller picture than before, they will no doubt charge you less for receiving it?
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Re: Question for Canadian TCM viewers

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:05 am

Donald Binks wrote:Seeing as they are sending you a smaller picture than before, they will no doubt charge you less for receiving it?
:lol:
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