The Oceania Football Confederation is considering launching a new free-to-air TV channel on Freeview.

The OFC, which is backed by the wealth of world football body Fifa, has already initiated talks with free-to-air television provider Freeview, at least 15 national sports organisations and Crown entity Sport New Zealand.

It is understood the Oceania plan is for 24-hour broadcasting, including live events, built around football but also encompassing other sports – many of which struggle to meet the financial demands of subscription satellite provider Sky TV. Continue reading »

The number of households with Freeview has increased significantly over the last four months, according to the latest figures.

The Digital Tracker, funded by Going Digital, shows 47% of all households with a working television now have Freeview, up from 41% last quarter.  The percentage of homes with Sky TV or TelstraClear dropped from 57% to 55% over the same period.

Freeview General Manager Sam Irvine said the figures show free to air digital television is becoming more popular in New Zealand, and he expects the trend to continue as digital switch over gets closer. Continue reading »


Freeview were experiencing problems this afternoon with the Prime service on FreeviewHD and Freeview satellite.

A message on their Facebook page alerted viewers to the problem.

The issue, which has now been remedied by transmission provider Kordia, did not affect all receivers.

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

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.

(From a press release)

Free to air digital TV platform Freeview is now being used by more than a million New Zealanders to watch their favourite programs, according to the latest figures.

General Manager Sam Irvine says the milestone is a huge achievement for Freeview and proves the free to air platform has a central place in the future of New Zealand TV.

“Freeview continues to enjoy the strongest growth of any digital TV broadcasting platform. We’ve gone from being in zero percent of Kiwi households to close to 30 percent in just five years.”

Freeview’s latest sales figures show more than half a million of New Zealand’s 1.6 million households were receiving Freeview free to air digital TV. As at the end of October 536,350 homes using Freeview for their television viewing and in total there are 792,878 homes who now have a Freeview device in the home.

“There’s an average of 2.4 people in each household, so our figure of one million viewers is conservative,” says Mr Irvine.

“Freeview’s increasingly rapid growth shows the TV most people want to watch is free to air.”

TV ratings from Neilsen TAM show 80% of all audiences, or 1,227,000 people watch free-to-air channels between 6pm and 10.30pm. Free to air TV also attracted the lion’s share of audiences for the Rugby World Cup final, with 1.4 million or 68% of all viewers.

“Free to air TV is still where we go to get our shared experiences. Go to any workplace in the country and people will talk about the latest news or what they saw on free TV last night,” says Mr Irvine.

Sky and TVNZ announced yesterday that they were partnering up to deliver a new budget pay tv service, entrenching TVNZ’s desire to move towards subscription based revenue and driving the wedge deeper into their position with Freeview despite them saying otherwise.

Freeview wouldn’t comment on the announcement other than to say they currently have compatible products agreements with TCL, TiVo and Sony PlayTV but not this new venture so they aren’t licensed to use Freeview’s trademarks.

We also posed some questions to Eric Kearley, TVNZ’s head of digital services who will also sit on the new venture’s board.

Throng: Firstly, with the announcement today that TVNZ and Sky are launching a new Pay TV offering, does this secure the future of TVNZ7 and or TVNZU?

EK: The venture does not change the status of TVNZ7 or TVNZU in any way. The venture will launch a new platform, there is no effect on the content or plans for any individual TVNZ channels that we can currently predict.

Throng: What implications do you see with TVNZ being a stakeholder in Freeview?  

EK: TVNZ is committed to supporting Freeview and FTA television, which will remain at the core of TVNZ. Freeview has been very successful in getting New Zealanders to convert to digital television in preparation for for Digital Switch Over, and will continue to be so. This venture provides consumers with more choice to convert to digital as we approach DSO.

TVNZ is committed to supporting the governments timetable to achieving DSO through multiple initiatives including support for Freeview, participation in the Digital Switch Over group, “Going Digital” communication initiatives, and now the participation and support for this joint venture.

Throng: What will TiVo’s involvement be with this new service, if any?

EK: None.

While TVNZ can, on the surface, state that they support Freeview, surely there are conflicts of interest.  I can’t imagine that the other seats at the Freeview table will be happy knowing that any commercially sensitive information will be readily available to a competitor.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out…

When the Freeview HD expansion was announced I thought it was going to be a good thing but now that Invercargill (and the other JDA contracted regions) has the service, with only 11 of the 16-17 channels available, I now think it’s a complete waste (with the exception of free-to-air HD and Dolby 5.1 surround).

And what expaination has been given for this? Well according to JDA’s Warren Harding, in an email I received this morning, it seems the Government is to blame for the less than stellar performance from the expansion, and I quote:

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage paid
for the implementation of the expansion network, the hardware and
installation. But that’s it. The on-going cost of maintaining it, the
rent to landowners, the power, the service teams, etc has to be borne by
those that use the system. So those that have subscribed to the
expansion network pay rent to us and appear on your screen and those
that haven’t don’t.

It’s a little like Sky subscribers who have
a basic package and can’t watch movies or sports only in this case the
subscription is paid for by the broadcasters not the public. Hopefully
it’s just a matter of time until we get the rest of them on board. The
rent we charge is based on what it costs us and is built into our
contract with the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. There’s no price
gouging going on, I promise you.

Government run programs like
Parliament TV might get pushed along if the public complain about it.
It seems strange that one arm of the government would splash out for the
expansion but another arm won’t subscribe to it.”

Now I posted this on Geekzone with the following comments as I honestly see it.

personally think the Ministry of Culture and Heritage have dropped the
ball on this and that the public should have been told that certain
areas would not receive the full service.

Now this would have
affected sales I would say and therefore I believe this has been covered
up so that people would go out and buy receivers, not knowing however,
that they would not be getting the full service.”

I think this has been a total cock up by this Government because I don’t think they ever had faith in Freeview to begin with and that if they had then Kordia would have been the only company given the expansion contract and only then would we have the full service.

I’m not criticizing JDA in any of this because this isn’t their fault. It, in my opinion, should be laid at the feet of the Government.

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

After a successful first awards season in 2010, the second annual Freeview awards have garnered a record number of votes – 6,346 votes were cast to determine the winners in 12 categories of digital media and related services.

The awards celebrate all aspects of Freeview, from the channels and programmes provided by Freeview broadcasters, to the first-rate work of retailers and installers and the top-quality Freeview-approved products around New Zealand.

Freeview General Manager Sam Irvine says, “After the success of last year’s awards and the boost that the wins gave to many broadcast partners and suppliers, we expected a high level of engagement and were thrilled that the awards generated such a high number of votes.

“We would like to thank the many Freeviewers who voted and gave their feedback, and to congratulate the winners of this year’s awards. As an open platform we have many contributors to our success, and these awards allow viewers to pick their favourites of these high-performing individuals and organizations.”

Russell Brown of double-winner Media7 says, “This is wonderful news for the week of Media7’s 150th episode.”

“We’re especially delighted to be named not only best digital-only programme, but the best programme available on Freeview. And, of course, TVNZ 7, the home of Media7, has deservedly been voted the best digital-only channel.”

The awards recognise Freeview’s growing popularity and acknowledge the broadcast, retail and technology partners and suppliers who collectively underpin the success of the enterprise. Over the past 12 months, record numbers of Freeview-approved products have been sold by retailers and a significant rise has been recorded in the popularity of shows on digital-only channels.


Voting closed on 6 April, and the winners are as follows:


Best in-store retail experience

Winner: Noel Leeming

Runner-up: Dick Smith Electronics


Best online retail experience

Winner: Dick Smith Electronics

Runner-up: Noel Leeming


Best installation experience

Winner: Alf from


Best Freeview-approved HD receiver

Winner: Dish TV UHF aerial

Runner-up: Zinwell


Best Freeview-approved satellite receiver

Winner: Dish TV

Runners-up: Zinwell


Best Freeview-approved digital television recorder

Winner: Panasonic

Runners-up: Magic


Best Freeview-approved iDTV brand

Winner: Panasonic

Runner-up: Samsung


Best digital-only TV channel available on Freeview

Winner: TVNZ 7

Runner-up: TV3 Plus 1


Best digital-only TV show available on Freeview

Winner: Media7, TVNZ 7

Runner-up: Back benches, TVNZ 7


Best TV show on a channel on Freeview

Winner: Media7, TVNZ 7

Runner-up: Back benches, TVNZ 7


Best high-definition TV show on a channel on Freeview

Winner: CSI, TV3, TV3 Plus 1

Runners-up: Criminal Minds, TV ONE


Best radio station on Freeview

Winner: Radio New Zealand National

Runner-up: George FM