Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Satellite Freeview switches on for Kiwis

The first chapter in the life of Freeview New Zealand began this afternoon, with the digital satellite version of the platform officially switched on this afternoon.

The launch of kiwi Freeview ends the digital monopoly of the Murdoch- controlled Sky Television. Around 42% of New Zealand households currently fork out for the limited, poor quality service of pay broadcaster Sky TV.

The free-to-air digital platform lets viewers enjoy crystal clear digital quality TV, without paying a monthly subscription fee. Viewers will need a satellite dish on their roof, and a suitable set-top box. The digital satellite service is being aimed at the 25% of the population with bad television reception.

Viewers who currently have good UHF tv reception are being encouraged to wait for the Freeview terrestrial (DTT) service, which will be launching in March 2008, broadcasting from New Zealand's main centres. (The DTT service will also require a different set-top box, or television fitted with a digital tuner).

Freeview NZ is run by a consortium including State TV (TV One, TV2), CanWest MediaWorks (TV3, C4), Maori TV, and Radio New Zealand (National, Concert... but who really cares about radio anyway?? ;-)

TVNZ are hoping to launch a family/children/arts channel in September, with a news and information channel next March. TVNZ have enough capacity to add up to another half dozen in the future, while CanWest can add three channels, with another 6 or so available for regional or niche broadcasters.

* NZ PCWorld: A few of your Freeview questions answered
* NBR: Freeview digital television launched

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