Did You Ever Notice That The CBC Time Signal Sounds Like A Flatline? Maybe That’s Why It Died

Last Updated on: 19th June 2024, 11:49 am

I think the last time I heard the CBC’s official 1 o’clock time signal was last summer. That, it turns out, was about two months before they decided to kill it after nearly 84 years.

It’s sad to see it go. It was a fixture on my radio growing up, as I’m sure it was for a lot of people. But honestly, it was probably time.

You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t own at least one device that keeps time automatically these days. The least connected people I know have a phone and a satellite dish that can do it. I own a wristwatch that checks a radio signal and resets itself once a day. So from a practical standpoint, it wasn’t as useful as it used to be.

And to make matters worse, thanks to a combination of new listening methods and broadcasting equipment, the signal itself was becoming less accurate, which was the whole point of it existing to begin with.

Given the range of CBC platforms from traditional over-the-air radio, to satellite and the internet, the long dash undergoes a range of delays by the time it’s heard, leading to accuracy concerns from the NRC, she wrote.
Iannetta added that nowadays most people use their phones to get the time, though many CBC listeners have a “fondness” for the signal.
“We share the nostalgia that many people have towards the daily time announcement but Canadians also depend on us for accurate information,” she wrote. “With all of the different distribution methods we use today we can no longer ensure that the time announcement can be accurate.”

The time signal was a touchstone that kept railways, shipping companies and Canada on time.
It remains precise — provided by cesium atomic clocks that are “the world’s best timekeepers,” according to the NRC.
NRC didn’t provide anyone for an interview but in a statement, spokesperson Orian Labrèche said CBC installed HD radio transmitters in 2018, which caused a delay of up to nine seconds in broadcasting the time signal.
The council proposed several solutions and worked with CBC to solve the delay, but “ultimately, CBC/Radio-Canada made the decision to stop broadcasting the NRC’s official time signal,” he wrote.

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