This autumn will see the launch of ChoiceTV on the Freeview digital platform. It will be New Zealand’s first broad appeal Free-To-Air TV channel launched in more than a decade and will offer viewers an exciting and interesting range of programmes twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.
ChoiceTV’s programming will centre on entertainment, information, and lifestyle content from around the world. To achieve this, major shareholder Top Shelf Productions (one of New Zealand’s leading production companies) has acquired unique and previously unseen international content; programmes that will tap into the tastes and interests of many Kiwi viewers with themes like homes, travel, gardening, food, adventure, health & fitness and comedy and drama.
“NZ is rapidly heading towards the first Digital Switch Over in September and when that day comes we will be there to provide viewers with free access to a greater choice of popular programmes. Viewers are demanding more high quality free to air content and as a major producer of local programming it made sense for Top Shelf to be involved in the first of NZ’s new Freeview TV channels.” said ChoiceTV and Top Shelf Director, Vincent Burke.
The door is also open to New Zealand programme makers says Vincent Burke. “We’re keen to screen independently funded local content if it fits the programming strategy for the channel and we’ll also look seriously at the back catalogues of local production companies.”
Also ChoiceTV management are looking to develop relationships with various organizations with a view to producing public interest programmes that will be screened in off-peak time slots.
And in an exciting move, ChoiceTV has formed a relationship with international broadcaster RTL Festival. This will bring New Zealand viewers a range of international festival films, plus Red Carpet interviews at all international film festivals starting with Cannes in May this year. Choice is also in discussion with the NZ Film Commission for the screening rights to its back catalogue of films and shorts.
The channel’s management team is made up of Top Shelf’s Vincent Burke, Laurie Clarke and Brian Holland and highly experienced industry experts Julia Baylis and Alex Breingan.
“The model for running a very successful channel already exists in the pay market so marrying that with some of commercial radio’s most savvy business initiatives presents a very real chance to gain a significant foothold in the emerging and expanding Freeview market” says ChoiceTV General Manager Alex Breingan. “Our business model and pricing structure will also offer very affordable entry into TV advertising for small businesses as well as major corporates.”
Channel launch is planned for mid to late April 2012 and, while the exact channel number is yet to be confirmed, it’s expected to be either 12 or 13 on Freeview. The channel will be available to all households with either a Freeview box or a Freeview capable TV in those areas of the country that are covered by Kordia transmitters – at the moment that’s around 80-85% of the country. ChoiceTV management are negotiating with another transmission company to reach a further 7% of the viewing audience.
About the team:
Vincent Burke established Top Shelf Productions in 1988 and has made iconic documentary and factual programming including iconic series like Target, What’s Really In Our Food? Immigrant Nation, Frontier Of Dreams and Media 7.
Laurie Clarke has been with Top Shelf as executive producer, producer and director since 2002. Prior to that he worked as a current affairs producer with TV3 and in various TV roles in Australia with the ABC.
Alex Breingan is former Channel Manager for Sky TV’s Food TV and Living Channel after 15 years in radio including time as Mediaworks Radio Operations Manager and Assistant Programme Director for both More FM and RadioLIVE. He began his career in the mid 1990’s in UK commercial radio and later as a producer at the BBC before moving to NZ in 2002.
Julia Baylis has spent the past 5 years as Head of Programming and Acquisitions for Living Channel and Food TV. Prior to this Julia spent 8 years with Television New Zealand in the Programming area of the company – the majority of her time with the
network as Head of Programming for TV2.
Brian Holland is Head of Development for Top Shelf Productions where he has developed series such as Media7 and The Kitchen Job, and developed and produced Cook Kids Cooking, The Sitting and The Nutters Club. Prior to this he served for 12 years as a programmer at TVNZ.
Choice TV is owned and operated by Top TV Ltd