Tune In, Turn Off or Drop Out?

For the last few years we have been flooded with the pros of the up-coming digital TV revolution.

From next year our regular analogue form of broadcasting will start shutting down and we will all have to switch over (or off) whether we like it or not. For those of us who won’t, or can’t, pay for the likes of Sky or TiVo (is TiVo even still going in NZ? It went very quiet VERY fast) Freeview is, apparently, the answer to our prayers.

When Freeview started out I would have loved to have been able to get it. All those new channels: TVNZ 6 & 7, C4 and TV3 Plus One all looked to provide a large range of informative, fun programming with some good, old-school NZ TV repeats thrown in for good measure.

But now Freeview, or at least the TVNZ side of it, has utterly lost me. TVNZ 7 is being scrapped and sold off to become who knows what – Infomercials, Home Shopping,  a 24hour a day episode of ‘Good Morning’? (Shiver!)

TVNZ 6 – gone too. Replaced by Kidzone and “U” – The programming for “U” would appear to make MTV look highly educated and the simple lessons taught on Kidzone look like nothing short of astro-physics.

Someone please tell me C4 is at least still a decent music channel.

So here is my question: Why bother? If viewers have to spend up on a new set-top box or new TV to receive our free to air viewing in ‘better quality’ digital transmission next year, shouldn’t the product we receive be something of equal quality to appreciate? Because at the current rate the formerly ‘good old TVNZ’ is running its business, channels and schedules Freeview will no longer be delivering much quality programming by the time it (or whatever alternative people choose) becomes compulsory in 2012.

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About the author

Andrew Frame

Growing up in 1980's New Zealand we were spoilt for choice when it came to quality television - especially locally made content.
So what the hell happened?!
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  • reece_555

    Other than a good picture and the fact that analogue is being switched off there really isnt a reason to get freeview.

    I think its the population size of NZ that limits TVNZ & Mediaworks due to the small market so obviously they cant afford to operate new channels because of programming cost and the shift from the main channels that would occur. Look at the schedules now accross One, 2, 3, Four & Prime clearly there isnt much left over programmes to fill any new channels. Although TVNZ have tried to be different with its poor MTV imitation channel U the content looks pretty cheap.

    But surely we can be saved from a 24/7 shopping channel. Again look at the main channels in this counrtry and if you have multiple recorders you can piece your own 24 hours of infomercials if youre that desperate for them.

  • flippikat

    I agree – when you compare our Freeview to Australia’s, it’s severely lacking.  All the major players (Channels 7, 9 & Ten, ABC & SBS) have reasonable-enough digital channels that make our range look positively one-dimensional – sure they have more & bigger companies filling the channels.. but there seems to be a lack of creativity & investment in what we’re being offered.

  • Mike Farmer

    Get real and accept that freeview is awesome. Look back on the small number of analog SD 4:3 channels we had and enjoy the digital tv you have now. Aussie have had digital tv since 2000 and relative to that we have done well in a few short years. They have a market size that will always give them better tv choice. It’s amazing that our news bulletins are better than theirs. A real credit to tv1 and tv3 and their professionalism.

  • David Finch

    It’s political folks – a direct result of the National government’s misguided broadcasting ‘policy’.

  • reece_555

    While I dont doubt political reasons why freeview may be restricted. It still seems its more of a money issue vs the potential audience out there. While they have had digital tv over in Australia since 2000, the multichannel concept has only gained momentum with commercial networks since 2009. One downside is that ratings on main channels have been impacted but its more sustainable over there than what it would be here.

    If our FTA’s were serious about digital channels we would have decent ones by now, this includes TVNZ as government funded ones (TVNZ 6 & 7) dont count as they wouldnt have existed if TVNZ had to actually fund them themselves.

  • Rick

    Let’s not forget that the Australian broadcasters put all those new channels up in an agreement with the government that prohibited any new commercial channel operators to enter the market for 10 years.  Sweet deal, I’d say, no new competitors for a decade.  There is no such restriction in NZ, only the restriction of the market size.

  • Fozzy Bear

    It seems great minds think alike (or, at least, in a similar timeframe). This from today’s NZ Herald Online:

    Chris Barton : Do Not Adjust Your Set



  • AJ

    Converting to Freeview is incredibly easy.  Most new flat screen TVs have a Freeview receiver in-built into the body of the TV.  Freeview is great – much better than the old analogue signal.  And in answer to the question “Someone please tell me C4 is at least still a decent music channel” I can confirm that yes, C4 is still a decent music channel.  I watch it almost every day.