Digital TV

GoinDigitalFigures released this week suggest there are still nearly 150,000 New Zealand households still without adequate digital television equipment for the analogue switch-off.

Public information campaign Going Digital claim there are 146,000 homes without Sky, Freeview, TelstraClear or Igloo services, meaning they will be unable to watch TV by the end of the year.

Going Digital is warning those yet to make the move that if they leave it until the last minute they may face delays due to the rush.

Greg Harford, Going Digital National Manager, said: “There were people in Hawke’s Bay in September last year who left the move to digital TV until the last minute and when they sought help from technicians or installers, they found there was a wait. That’s why we’re advising people to start thinking about the change now. Continue reading »

Broadcasting Minister Craig Foss today announced details of the Government’s Going Digital Targeted Assistance Package.

“To keep watching TV, all New Zealanders need to go digital by getting Freeview, Sky or TelstraClear,” says Mr Foss. “Nearly 80 per cent of Kiwis have already done so and are enjoying more channels, better pictures and new services. People are going digital all the time and we expect nearly 90 per cent of New Zealanders will have gone digital by May 2013.

“However, the Government recognises that a small group of people could need financial, physical or technical help to switch over. Our Targeted Assistance Package is focused on those most likely to be in genuine need, and will directly help elderly people on fixed incomes and people with disabilities make the transition to digital television.”

To be eligible, people must be watching only analogue television and be either:

· 75 or over with a community services card; or

· Receiving an Invalid’s Benefit or a Veteran’s Pension; or

· Former recipients of an Invalid’s Benefit or Veteran’s Pension who have converted to New Zealand Superannuation.

The package will provide a set-top box, an aerial or satellite dish if necessary, installation, training and access to a technical support line. It will support local businesses around the country, with local installers contracted.

“Digital TV will bring big benefits to New Zealand,” says Mr Foss. “It will allow the use of 4G technologies, which could have economic benefits worth over $2 billion in the next 20 years.”

The package will be launched next month when potentially eligible people in Hawke’s Bay and the West Coast will receive a letter inviting them to contact Going Digital to confirm their eligibility and to opt in to receive assistance.

Further information is available online at www.goingdigital.co.nz.

(From a press release)

Free digital TV set-top boxes may be on the way for up to 60,000 disadvantaged viewers when New Zealand ends analogue transmissions in the next two years.

Greg Harford, manager of Going Digital, the division within the Culture and Heritage Ministry who is in charge of prepping the public for the switchover, has yet to disclose which companies are in the running to assist in the scheme.

Sky TV spokesperson Kirsty Way has ruled out Sky and Igloo as contenders, saying they were interested but were turned down and not invited to a closed tender.

“We won’t be involved unless there is a huge turnaround somewhere, which we are not expecting,” Way said.

Newly appointed Broadcasting Minister Craig Foss will be briefed regarding the scheme in the new year.

Source: Stuff

One year until end of analogue TV

Last weekend marked the one year mark until the end of analogue TV in New Zealand. On September 30 next year, the Hawke’s Bay and West Coast regions will begin the first phase of switchover which will be completed with the upper North Island in December.

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The Labour Party has dismissed the Government’s new TV recycling scheme launched yesterday as a gimmick.

Environment Minister Nick Smith yesterday launched the Great TV Takeback programme that gives the public the opportunity to dispose of their unwanted analogue TVs for free at Warehouse stores.

However labour environment spokesperson Charles Chauvel said the programme was not adequate.

“I visited a recycling centre last Friday which can’t afford to stockpile any more analogue TVs above the piles and piles of them it has now collected. It is now turning them away and they are headed to landfills thanks to Nick Smith’s failure to fulfil one of his basic responsibilities as environment minister.”

Chauvel believes including a small levy into the price of new TVs would aid in helping retailers offer a recycling service to customers.

“When people buy new gear, they drop their old gear off, and it would be recycled,” Chauvel said.

“This would be a permanent scheme applicable to all retailers to cope with the flood of lead and heavy metals now going to landfill, rather than a two-week ministerial gimmick in which only one outlet participates.”

Source: Herald

A Government programme has been launched today that will hopefully see thousands of unwanted TV sets recycled instead of ending up in landfills.

The Great TV Takeback programme was launched today by Environment Minister Nick Smith, allowing people to dispose of their unwanted TV sets at Warehouse stores for free over the next two weeks.

“There are 2.2 million old cathode ray tube TVs containing 4000 tonnes of lead that we don’t want going to landfills. It is estimated that more than 500,000 will be retired this year,” Dr Smith said.

“This programme will enable the recycling of 96 per cent of the materials in a TV set.”

The initiative is being partly-funded by the Government through the Waste Management Fund. 

Source: Herald

Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman today announced details of the analogue switch-off set to begin in October next year.

The switch to fully digital TV will take place in four phases, beginning in the Hawke’s Bay and West Coast on Sunday September 20, 2012.

The other three phases will be: 

* Rest of the South Island at 2am on Sunday April 28, 2013

* Lower North Island, Taranaki and Gisborne at 2am on Sunday September 29, 2013

* Rest of the North Island at 2am on Sunday December 1, 2013. 

The switch to digital TV will require households to use a set-top box through Freeview, Sky or TelstraClear to receive the signal.

”I’m encouraging those who are not to plan and prepare now,” Coleman said. 

”We’re planning for the start of a fully digital TV age where New Zealanders can enjoy better pictures and sound, more choice and benefits such as onscreen television guides.” 

Source: Stuff

Television ownership in the US has dropped for the first time in 20 years.

Research conducted by Nielsen has found that 96.7 per cent of American homes now own TVs, down from 98.9 per cent previously.

Nielsen attributes the decline to two reasons: increasing poverty in the US and the advancement in technology.

Many low-income households now can’t afford to own TV sets due to the added expense of digital antennas and young people are now growing up with laptops which give them access to a wide range of television shows and movies via the internet.

The second reason is prompting Nielsen to think about redefining the “television household” to include those who access content via the internet.

“We’ve been having conversations with clients,” said Pat McDonough, the senior vice president for insights and analysis at Nielsen. “That would be a big change for this industry, and we’d be doing it in consultation with clients if we do it.”

Nielsen says the decline also mirrors the trend in 1992 where TV ownership declined due to a prolonged recession. However, it was reversed in the mid-90s during the economic upswing.

While it is still believed that American households hold the TV at the centre of their media life, they are finding ways to live without it.

Source: NYTimes.com

Stratos Television will start broadcasting free-to-air throughout New Zealand on Freeview’s digital terrestrial television (DTT) platform from March 1, 2011.

For viewers it means they will have access to the independent broadcaster’s smorgasbord of national and international programmes without needing to have a satellite dish. They will still need a Freeview digital receiver, but newer model TVs already have that built in.

Founder and chief executive of Stratos Jim Blackman says the move might be seen as brave for a company that gets virtually nothing from the government pots that dish out funding to other broadcasters.

“But we have been in business for more than 12 years and our audience share has grown to a point that we know we have close to one million people watching on a regular basis,” he says. “The time is right and we have access to international programmes that show New Zealanders a real alternative window on the world that our competitors don’t.

“If you look at our society today, New Zealand is not made up solely of English or American leaning culture. We have a real diversity of people and their cultures. One of my friends has 132 different nationalities at his school. That’s the real NZ. People deserve to see themselves and people like them on television every day. It also means we help build an understanding of our friends and neighbours – people who live in the same towns, even the same street as us and whose children go to school together.

“Advertisers, including the Government, should carefully consider where they are spending their and taxpayers’ money. Do they really reach key audiences?”

Stratos, which has been screening on DHT (satellite services) for the past three years, can already be seen throughout the country via Freeview and Sky Digital. For viewers that has meant having a satellite dish and receiver.

DTT is broadcast across the country from point-to-point via broadcast towers and can be picked up by 80% of homes through domestic antennas.

Mr Blackman says the move is being made ahead of the country’s progressive switch off of analogue transmission from 2012 – 2013.

Mr Blackman says Stratos will accept local programming that meets with its standards for suitability, content, quality and where it fits programming schedules.

Nearly 40 programme makers who supply Triangle, Auckland’s local TV station and sister channel to Stratos, have been told Triangle will continue broadcasting on its UHF frequencies until digital switch on.

Triangle Auckland is on UHF Channels 41, 42 and 52. Triangle’s sister channel, Stratos Television, currently broadcasts nationwide via Sky Digital (Channel 89), Freeview (Channel 21) and TelstraClear cable and in Christchurch and Wellington on TelstraClear cable (Channel 50).

In order to aid New Zealanders in the switch to digital television, a $13 million campaign has been launched by the government for the next three years.

With the digital TV switchover announced to be complete by November 2013, around 30 per cent of kiwi households will need to upgrade to a new television for purchase a digital box by then.

The Going Digital campaign will feature a website (goingdigital.co.nz) as well as a freephone helpline (0800 838 800) in order to aid people in the switchover to digital television.

“Over the coming months, ‘Going Digital’ will be working with local communities to ensure viewers know where to turn for advice,” said Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman.

“Seventy-one per cent of New Zealand households are already watching digital television through either Freeview, Sky or TelstraClear. Going Digital will ensure people know about the change, and that advice and practical support is available for those who need it.”

The switchover will take place region by region beginning in the Hawkes Bay and West Coast in September 2012.

Source: Herald, TVNZ