Rick Friesen, Chair of the board of Freeview, today announced the appointment of Sam Irvine as General Manager for Freeview.

“Sam has been Marketing Manager for Freeview since December, 2006. He has been an important part of Freeview’s successful development and his skills in the position made him the ideal candidate to take on the role of General Manager,” said Mr Friesen.
“The entire Freeview board expressed complete confidence in Sam and are convinced the organisation will continue its strong growth under his leadership” said Mr. Friesen.

Commenting on the appointment, Mr. Irvine said “I’m really looking forward to the prospect of embracing future technology and content so that Freeview can continue to offer consumers the best value for money possible.”

In just over two years, Freeview has launched both terrestrial High Definition and satellite free-to-air platforms for radio and television and has seen rapid acceptance of the service, with over 14% of New Zealand homes now receiving Freeview.

“Today, more than ever before, a digital, high quality, free television and radio service is what the public is looking for and Freeview provides exactly that,” concluded Mr Irvine.

Via email today:

“I’m new here, but was advised to sign up by Lars at the Freeviewshop to tell you about my petition to get Sky TV to put Prime on FreeView.

I set up the petition less than 24 hours ago and already well over 100 people have signed it.  I think if we all get behind this, we have a real chance of bending Sky’s ear.

If you think you’d like to support this idea, you are welcome to sign the petition here.

If you’d like to share this with friends and family, the link is

I’m committed to getting support for this any way possible and will personally be seeing this through, even if it means actually knocking on Sky’s door myself.

Best regards,
Bill Ruys.”

More than 14% of homes in New Zealand now have Freeview, the free to air digital television and radio platform, according to figures released today. This equates to nearly 10,000 new homes a month (or 72,000 new viewers over the quarter) now enjoying the benefits of crystal clear free-to-air digital television.

The latest sales figures for the three months ending March, 2009, indicate that the total households now reached by Freeview is  226,141, or 14.1% of permanent households. This figure is made up of the Freeview satellite service which launched in May 2007 (155,482 or 9.7%) and the Freeview|HDTM service, which launched in April last year (70,659 or 4.4%).

“As we approach our second birthday, Freeview continues to connect with Kiwis right around the country. We are ahead of forecast and are tracking well towards more homes watching free-to-air digital television. We are looking forward to the prospect of working even more closely with all the relevant broadcasting stakeholders. Whether it’s the Government, Sky TV and Prime or our own consortium partners, we’re focused on making Freeview a world leading free-to-air digital broadcasting platform,” says Sam Irvine, Acting General Manager, Freeview.

MediaWorks TV (owners of TV3 and C4) launched its first Freeview exclusive channel – TV3+1 – on March 30, which is available on Freeview channel 8 on both Freeview satellite and Freeview|HD.

It provides Freeview viewers with the option of tuning into their favourite shows an hour after they have screened, a service that has proved incredibly popular in the UK and other markets around the world and which initial results show, is clearly connecting with Freeview viewers.

“We know from retailers around the country that the recession is clearly impacting Kiwis; we are staying at home more, looking at our home entertainment options and we are watching more TV. The latest take up figures suggest New Zealanders are looking to Freeview as a good value home entertainment option.  That’s because you get a free- to-air, digital quality TV experience with more channels to choose from than traditional free-to-air analogue television plus other digital only features” he adds.   



Steve Browning, General Manager of Freeview, has resigned his position effective Friday, 9 April to pursue new opportunities.  Mr. Browning led the launch of both the satellite and terrestrial Freeview platforms, taking New Zealand along the path to a fully digital television system.

Rick Friesen, Chairman of Freeview, paid tribute to the integral part Browning has played in the success and strength of the world class digital television platform that Freeview has swiftly become recognised as.

“This announcement is about celebrating our success to date and, more importantly, the exciting future that lies ahead of us. Steve presided over the launch and phenomenal growth of Freeview by ensuring it has become recognised as an internationally acclaimed free-to-air digital TV platform,” he says.

“Succession planning has always been a priority at Freeview so I am pleased to appoint Sam Irvine, Freeview’s current Marketing Manager as acting General Manager until a full review and permanent appointment is made. As part of the launch team, his marketing expertise in the digital arena is well proven and puts the leadership of Freeview in very capable hands,” he adds.

Steve Browning, GM of Freeview, today welcomed two major developments that have taken place in NZ Digital Television this week.

The first is the news yesterday that TVNZ 6 and TVNZ 7 are set to become available to all Sky TV viewers.

“Freeview has never been about exclusivity. We are New Zealand’s only open digital TV and radio platform, which means we do not require any channel to be Freeview exclusive.

We always expected TVNZ 6 and 7 to be made available on Sky. The appeal of Freeview is that once you have purchased a Freeview approved receiver all the channels are free.

Conversely, with Sky TV you are paying a monthly subscription to watch free-to-air digital channels.

“We believe that the added exposure for these channels will draw welcome attention to what viewers can get elsewhere for free and that’s good news for us,” he says.

“While the inclusion of TVNZ 6 and 7 on Sky TV and the absence of Prime on Freeview are not linked commercially, it remains difficult for New Zealanders’ to understand why a free-to-air channel – like Prime – is not on Freeview.

We clearly want this to happen as soon as possible,” he added.

The second development is the news that TVNZ has acquired a 33% stake in Hybrid Television Services (ANZ) Pty Ltd, the exclusive licensee of TiVo in Australia and New Zealand.

This will mean that TiVo will be locally available this year.

“From day one Freeview has encouraged as many digital receiver products into the market as possible.

By launching our MyFreeview|HDTM service in December last year we showed we wanted people to be able to easily record their favourite programmes with no monthly fees.

The TiVo media device will receive the Freeview|HDTM service and provide other services over broadband. This is an exciting development,” Mr Browning says.

While TVNZ and Sky have announced a new partnership that will see HD broadcasts of TV One and TV2 on MySkyHDi from June 1st and TVNZ 6 and TVNZ 7 being made available to pay TV subscribers from July 1st, Sky is not reciprocating with its free to air channel Prime on Freeview.

Sky Television’s Tony O’Brien told Throng that it made no economic sense for Prime to be on Freeview at the current point in time as the costs outweighed any benefits from ad revenue.  Sky aren’t convinced that the Freeview audience would justify those costs and, of course, noted that Prime is available already on Sky and free to air on UHF (analog).

What are your thoughts on this decision?

At the end of December 2008, there were 105,007 HD boxes in peoples homes.  Of that, 51,485 were MySKY HDi units while 53,522 were Freeview units.


Freeview, the free to air digital television and radio platform, today released the latest quarter of retail figures for digital receiver sales.

At the end of 2008, 198,938 receivers had been sold, with an additional 38,442 sold during the three months ending 31st December. This equates to an estimated 12.6% of New Zealand homes now enjoying free-to-air digital television via Freeview’s crystal clear satellite and HD terrestrial services. The Freeview|HDTM service, which launched in April 2008, is growing rapidly with 53,522 HD capable receivers sold including over 13,000 in December alone.

“The feedback we’re getting from retailers around the country is that Kiwis are increasingly attracted to the sort of priceless entertainment that Freeview provides, courtesy of a one-off cost and no monthly subscription,” says Steve Browning, General Manager, Freeview.

“And we know from recent reports that New Zealanders spent more time than ever before watching television last year – an average of three hours and eight minutes a day. This is the highest level of television viewership achieved in New Zealand since records began and people clearly want to watch a quality digital picture. We are also benefiting from the high demand for TVs with Freeview|HD built-in, and the launch of the MyFreeview|HDTM service also contributed to the excellent December sales.

The Freeview|HDTM service now has eleven TV and three radio services, while the Freeview Satellite service features twelve TV and four radio services.

With less than four weeks until Christmas, Kiwis around the country are set to benefit from the availability of the first MyFreeview|HDTM approved Digital Television Recorder.

“We’re delighted to confirm that the first approved Digital Television Recorder (or DTR) that works with the MyFreeview|HDTM service will be available in leading appliance retailers from the 11th December,” says Steve Browning, General Manager, Freeview.

The MyFreeview|HDTM DTR uses the Freeview eight-day electronic programme guide to select programmes or series to record. This first Freeview approved DTR from Zinwell contains two tuners which means you can simultaneously record from two channels while watching another programme from the hard-drive. It has capacity for up to 80 hours of High Definition (HD) or 240 hours of standard definition (SD) programmes.

MyFreeview|HDTM is the only digital television service with TVONE, TV2, and TV3 programmes available to record in HD with no subscription fees. It also enables the viewer to pause live TV, automatically book alternate recording times if you already have two bookings set, and even provides recommendations for other programmes you may also like to record.

Freeview also continues to deliver on the promise of more free TV and radio channels with the arrival of Base FM on Freeview|HDTM and Freeview Satellite channel 71 and the announcement of TV3+1 from MediaWorks (owners of TV3 and C4) on channel 8 from next March.

Consisting of a high-profile collective of DJs, Base FM has swiftly cemented a reputation for providing its listeners with a fresh and compelling contemporary music offering.

“We’re almost five years old now and our line-up consists of some of the best artists and producers in NZ music today, we broadcast 24 hours per day, seven days per week and according to Research International have one of the highest time-spend-listening rates in the market. Our availability on Freeview will only serve to strengthen our appeal by improving the Base FM reach, quality and proposition,” says Jasmin Ziedan, Station Manager, Base FM.

TV3+1 allows viewers to watch their favourite TV3 programmes one hour later, thereby avoiding those primetime schedule clashes.

“In the UK, tuning to the +1 channel averages 38% of the tuning to the main channel on the same platform and we would expect no difference in New Zealand,” comments Rick Friesen, MediaWorks Director of Special Projects.

“In overseas markets where similar services have been launched the viewer response has been very favourable, so we’re excited about what this will mean for the continued growth and popularity of the Freeview platform,” adds Steve Browning, General Manager, Freeview.

A report commissioned by NZ On Air has found that approximately 55 per cent of New Zealand households now have either Sky (45%) or Freeview (10%).

This move towards digital television means the analogue switch off is starting to get close as the target is either 75% saturation or 2012 – whichever comes first.