Freeview (New Zealand)


Freeview (New Zealand)

Infobox_Company
company_name = Freeview Limited
company_
company_type = Digital television provider
company_slogan = "Make bad reception a thing of the past"
foundation = 2007
location = flagicon|NZ Auckland City, New Zealand
homepage = [http://www.freeviewnz.tv/ www.freeviewnz.tv]

Freeview is a non-profit organization providing free-to-air digital television and digital radio to New Zealand. The Freeview service is available via satellite throughout New Zealand. Freeview's terrestrial service, Freeview|HD, is a high definition digital terrestrial television service available to 75 percent of the country's population.

Freeview was designed to overcome the poor reception caused by New Zealand's rugged topography, and to provide New Zealanders higher-quality digital TV and radio. The service will also provide a choice of more free channels, crystal-clear video and improved sound quality, interactive contentcite web | title = All About Freeview | url = http://freeviewnz.tv/index.php?section_id=2 | publisher = Freeview New Zealand | year = 2007 | accessdate = 2007-07-16 ] , and high-definition. This will prepare New Zealand for analogue switchoff, planned for when 75 percent of households have access to the service, or 2012, whichever is sooner.cite press release | publisher=New Zealand Government | date=2006-06-15 | title=Free-to-air digital TV to begin roll-out | url=http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0606/S00270.htm | accessdate=2006-06-15] .

A DVB-compliant set-top box, TV tuner card or digital capable TV, and a satellite dish (for Freeview) or UHF antenna (for Freeview|HD), are required to receive Freeview. Certified set-top boxes typically cost NZ$250 to $300 for satellite, and $400 to $600 for terrestrial, but uncertified generic DVB receivers costing as little as $100 are available.

Freeview uses the DVB-S and DVB-T standards on government provided spectrum. The government will also pay $25 million, about one third of the total cost.

It was estimated that on 30 June 2008, 123,903 New Zealand homes, or about 7.8%, had access to either the Freeview service (116,309 homes) or the Freeview|HD service (7594 homes) [ cite web|url= http://freeviewnz.tv/images/freeview_take-up_release_11july.pdf | title=Freeview Take-Up Tracking Strongly| accessdate=2008-07-18] . An additional 37,980 receivers were sold in the July to September quarter alone meaning that in total 10% (160,496 receivers) of New Zealand homes had access to Freeview, 27,918 of the receivers sold to date being HD capable.cite news|url=http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU0810/S00085.htm|title=Freeview powers past the 160,000 mark|date=2008-10-03|accessdate=2008-10-09] cite news|url=http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10535900|title=Freeview claims big lift in tuner uptake|date=2008-10-06|accessdate=2008-10-09] This makes it New Zealand's third largest television platform, and New Zealand's second largest digital platform.

History

It was announced on June 15 2006 that Freeview's free-to-air digital TV service would be available via satellite (DVB-S) from mid-2007 and terrestrial transmissions (DVB-T) from mid-2008. Freeview's marketing campaign began on April 23 2007 through a [http://www.freeviewnz.tv/ website] and four TV advertisements shown on Freeview's shareholders' TV channels, using the slogan "Make bad reception a thing of the past", showing people using proverbial substitutes for rabbit ears for receiving TV reception.

Freeview's satellite service began on May 2 2007. Initially, there were five television channels: TV One, TV2, TV3, C4, and Maori Television. Freeview's first digital-only channel, a temporary channel from TVNZ, began on May 18 2007, providing coverage of the V8 Supercar racing.

The Freeview terrestrial service, named Freeview|HD, official launched on April 14, 2008. The service currently serves areas surrounding Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier-Hastings, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin.

Content

The Freeview platform currently has 13 television channels and three radio stations. TVNZ, MediaWorks (formerly CanWest), the Maori Television Service, Stratos Television Ltd, Parliament TV, CUE (Southland TV) and Radio New Zealand currently provide content.

Up to 18 channels will be available, with six each assigned to TVNZ and MediaWorks, and the balance to other networks. Given that TVNZ's and MediaWorks's current free-to-air channels will be available on Freeview, there will be eight extra channels in total, between the two.

Freeview also has its own eight-day electronic programme guide, named Freeview EPG; TVNZ's Teletext service is also available.cite web | year=2006|title=FreeView Digital Broadcasting Information Summarised FAQ| work=Free-To-Air Digital Television - TVNZ | url=http://digital.tvnz.co.nz/faq.html| accessdate=2006-06-15]

National Television Channels

Future Content

Several new digital-only television channels will be launched within the next two years.

MediaWorks had confirmed it would launch one extra channel each in 2007 and 2008 targeting a niche market however MediaWorks announced in August 2008 that no channels will be launched until April 2009. The BSA anticipates that it will screen imported programmes on its first.cite web| url = http://www.bsa.govt.nz/publications/BSA-FutureOfMediaRegulation.pdf| title = The Future of Media Regulation in NZ: Is There One? | accessdate = 2006-07-07| last = Brown| first = Russell| coauthors = Price, Steven| year = 2006| month = May| format = PDF| publisher = Broadcasting Standards Authority| pages = 20] Since MediaWorks will not use all six channels allocated to it, it may sub-lease the spare capacity to other broadcasters. [cite news | first = John| last = Drinnan| title = Media bytes: Sub-leasing on Freeview | work = The National Business Review | date = 2006-08-04| accessdate = 2006-08-04|] On April 11, 2007, CanWest-owned station TV3 made the transition from the aspect ratio to , C4 followed suit on May 2.

Although the satellite and the terrestrial services will both have 18 channels initially, there is space for only 20 channels on the satellite transpondercite press release | publisher=New Zealand Government | date=2006-06-15 | title=Free-to-Air Digital TV: Questions and Answers | url=http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0606/S00287.htm | accessdate=2006-06-15] so fewer channels may be available on satellite than terrestrial in the future.cite press release | publisher=THL Group | date=2006-06-15 | title=Government says 'yes' to a digital future for NZ | url=http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU0606/S00222.htm | accessdate=2006-06-15]

Other Networks

There are ongoing negotiations with Prime (owned by pay-TV operator Sky NZ), other regional TV operatorscite news | first=Claire | last=Trevett| title=18 TV channels and it's all free | date=2006-06-15 | publisher=NZ Herald | url=http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=1&ObjectID=10386824 ] , and overseas companies wanting to start up in New Zealand - cite news |first = Martha |last = McKenzie-Minifie |url = http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=3&ObjectID=10393516 |title = Please adjust your set for a digital revolution |work = New Zealand Herald |publisher = APN Holdings NZ Ltd |date = 2006-07-29 |accessdate = 2006-07-29] Freeview will be open to other free-to-air broadcasters if they want to join.

Prime has said it will definitely not make a decision before 2008. Also, Prime's contracts with sports bodies preclude it from broadcasting sports programmes unencrypted on satellites, so it may only be available via terrestrial transmissions if it decides to join Freeview.cite news | first = John| last = Drinnan| title = Prime Television delays moving to Freeview | work = The National Business Review | date = 2006-06-23| accessdate = 2006-07-20|]

The New Zealand Racing Board originally showed interest, but currently has withdrawn as a shareholder, although it may join at a later date. [http://www.mch.govt.nz/publications/digital-tv/Free%20to%20Air%20Digital%20Television%20Platform%20Funding%20and%20Spectrum%20Licensing.pdf]

Quality

Satellite transmissions will be broadcast in 576i, as the satellite transponder is not high definition capable. However, terrestrial transmissions can be broadcast in high definition, and the government lets the broadcasters decide whether to broadcast in high definition or continue in standard definition.

Three channels currently broadcast in high definition - TV ONE and TV2 broadcasts in 720p, and TV3 broadcasts in 1080i.

Technology

Freeview uses the Optus D1 satellite to broadcast, on a transponder, leased from Kordia. The satellite transmissions are in DVB-S MPEG2.

UHF terrestrial broadcasting using DVB-T MPEG4 (also known as DVB-T HD)cite web | title = about freeview | url = http://www.freeviewsolutions.co.nz/about%20freeview.html | publisher = freeview solutions | year = 2008 | accessdate = 2008-02-26 ] (originally March 2008), and currently covers 75 percent of the country's population. Freeview's terrestrial transmissions will be broadcast from Kordia's existing transmitter towers. Eventually, terrestrial transmission may reach 92 percent of the population.

Freeview will use the DVB-T standard for terrestrial transmission, as established in 2001 with NZS6610:2001, to avoid the multipath problem caused by New Zealand's rugged topography. ATSC, a rival standard, cannot handle multipath well, so it was not chosen. [cite web | title=Transmission Platforms | work=Digital Television Discussion Document 2001 | url=http://www.med.govt.nz/templates/MultipageDocumentPage____9390.aspx#P126_25725| accessdate=2006-07-07]

Terrestrial Freeview|HD is broadcast in H.264/MPEG-4 AVC and satellite broadcast is in MPEG2. This meant that people who took part in the Auckland digital trial using terrestrial DVB-T MPEG2 receivers will need to change their receivers to DVB-T MPEG4 in order to receive terrestrial Freeview. DVB-T MPEG4 is also known in some countries as DVB-T HD.

Freeview certifies set-top boxes but does not sell them; they are marketed by electronics retailers. Freeview certification centres on the localisation of multimedia data, primarily for the EPG. This data is broadcast over DVB using the MHEG-5 standard. At the moment this is only used to transmit EPG data.

Freeview is discussing with Telecom about the provision of IPTV over ADSL. [cite news | first=Tom | last=Pullar-Strecker| title=Sky watches broadband move | date=2006-07-24 | publisher=Stuff | url=http://stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3740872a28,00.html ]

Finance

Freeview is the second digital TV system attempted by the government. The first, in 2000, cost NZ$6.8 million.

The government will pay up to NZ$25 million and provide free radio spectrum, estimated to be worth up to NZ$10 million during the transition to digital, the companies involved will pay the remaining $50 million. It will cost Alt TV NZ$600,000 a year to broadcast on Freeview, Canterbury TV estimates it will need to pay NZ$1 million a year if it joins Freeview.cite news |first = |last = |title = Alt TV changes its tune (yay) |work = The New Zealand Herald |publisher = |date = 2007-08-02 |accessdate = 2007-08-02] The government claims a NZ$230 million benefit to the economy.

Freeview may turn into for-profit ("Payview") after the analogue switch off.

Competition

Sky currently has a "free-to-air" package where channels similar to the ones available on Freeview are available for a monthly fee of NZ$18.29, plus an installation fee of NZ$99. [cite web | title= Can I temporarily disconnect SKY when I'm away on holiday? | work=Sky TV frequently asked questions | url=http://www.skytv.co.nz/index.cfm?pageid=445&script=faqmodule&faq=grp&gid=9&nrcontent=0&pid=445| accessdate=2006-06-20] Around 90,000 people use this service, generally those who cannot get a high quality signal from analogue terrestrial television.. Sky has been relatively unaffected. [Cite video | people=Poland, Owen (Reporter)| year=2006 | title= [http://tvnz.co.nz/view/video_popup_windows_skin/750634 Freeview TV to hit Sky hard] | medium=TV-News | publisher=TV ONE] A Sky dish can be used to receive Freeview but a separate set-top box will be required. [cite news | title=TV viewers may need two boxes | date=2006-07-03 | publisher=Stuff | url=http://stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3718577a28,00.html ]

Political reaction

Prior to launch, the Green Party said that it wanted more funding for New Zealand made programmes, a local content quota (such as that used in Canada), a public service channel, and cheaper set-top boxes. [cite press release | publisher=Green Party | date=2006-06-15 | title=Digital TV good news but local content essential | url=http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0606/S00266.htm | accessdate=2006-06-17] The government responded that no extra funding would be available, a quota would not be necessary and the technology would get cheaper over time. [cite web| url=http://www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz/Content/Hansard/Final/FINAL_2006_06_20.htm#_Toc139450172| title = Digital Television—Local Content Funding| accessdate = 2006-07-26| date = 2006-06-20| work = Hansard, Questions for oral answer]

The National Party said that they had thought of the idea first, and wanted more detail from the government. [cite press release | publisher=New Zealand National Party | date=2006-06-15 | title=Picture on digital TV plans still blurry | url=http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0606/S00275.htm | accessdate=2006-06-17]

References

External links

* [http://www.freeviewnz.tv/ Official Site]
* [http://digital.tvnz.co.nz/ TVNZ digital TV site]
* [http://www.mch.govt.nz/publications/digital-tv/index.html Ministry for Culture and Heritage on digital TV] (includes a cost-benefit analysis)
* [http://www.med.govt.nz/templates/ContentTopicSummary____6095.aspx Ministry of Economic Development on digital TV]
* [http://www.mythtv.co.nz/mythtv/?page_id=4 Technical details]
* [http://www.freeviewshop.co.nz/forum/ Freeviewshop's Forum for technical and support information]
* [http://www.dtvforum.co.nz NZ Digital TV Discussion Forum]

Media coverage

*TVNZ [http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/488120/750813 News] [http://tvnz.co.nz/view/video_popup_windows_skin/750639 Close Up] [http://tvnz.co.nz/view/video_popup_windows_skin/750852 ASB Business]
* [http://unlimited.co.nz/unlimited.nsf/columns/26F923402E5982B0CC25717100733FEE Unlimited]
* [http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000081&sid=ahKbPbbazH0s&refer=australia Bloomberg]
* [http://nbr.co.nz/search/search_article.asp?id=15583&cid=0&cname=Results NBR]
* [http://www.infonews.co.nz/news.cfm?id=24677 Huge Demand for Freeview in time for the Beijing Olympics]

Equipment suppliers

* [http://www.av1.co.nz/ Freeview Accredited Retailer]
* [http://openmedia.co.nz/openmedia/content/blogcategory/69/61/ OpenMedia]
* [http://www.freeviewshop.co.nz/ FreeView Equipment Shop]
* [http://www.freeviewsolutions.co.nz/ freeview solutions - High Definition equipment supplier]


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