During the discussions I had with various people at the Freeview presentation last night, the usual topic of why TVNZ 6 and 7 weren’t on the Sky platform and how frustrating it is having multiple boxes just to watch television.

While it is ultimately a TVNZ decision and one that Freeview can’t really comment on (as they’re building a digital platform of their own and leave the individual broadcasters to decide where they distribute their content) it is a valid question and one that definitely needs asking.

By all accounts, the issue lies around Sky getting TVNZ’s channels for free. Sky pays other channels for the rights to broadcast so why should TVNZ be any different? Currently TV One and 2 are provided free which happened during the period when TVNZ were stakeholders in Sky but when that agreement runs out, rest assured, TVNZ will be looking for payment.

Failure to negotiate a deal could see TV One and 2 pulled from Sky but I imagine that would be a worse case scenario with both parties blaming the other.

The way I see it, things are going to come to a head when this current agreement reaches term. At this point, you would expect that negotiations will be made bringing TVNZ 6 and 7 onto Sky and Prime onto Freeview. So the question I have is, why wait?

I guess the issue is that Sky have more to lose out of this as they would be forced to either pay a royalty or forfeit the TVNZ channels for sky subscribers. Considering the overwhelming majority of viewed content on Sky is from the free to air channels, I can just imagine how well that would go down with the punters and would be something Sky would be wanting to avoid at all costs. It’s all in finding the balance. Can that be found early in order to provide a better service to all viewers or will we have to wait until they’re forced to sort it out?

This afternoon, Freeview reinforced that penetration of the Free-to-Air Digital Television platform had reached 10% of New Zealand homes and that 96% of New Zealanders were aware of the brand before showcasing their new technology.

MyFreeview Logo

As well as the new Integrated Digital Televisions (iDTVs) from Panasonic, Sony, Samsung and Sharp, Freeview introduced its first Digital Television Recorder (DTR) that will operate under the new branding of the MyFreeview|HD service.

Similar to the MySkyHDi set-top-boxes available from Sky, the MyFreeview STB enables viewers to record multiple channels in High Definition for playback later.

The MyFreeview|HD STB will have a 250gb hard disk which should allow for up to 80 hours of recording.

One additional feature above the MySkyHDi STB is the ability to fast forward in 1/4 and 1/2 speeds.

The branding for MyFreeview|HD builds on the familiarity of MySky in a similar way as Freeview+ and Virgin Media’s V+ have to the Sky+ brand in the UK.

The ability to record two channels at once, pause live TV and view TV One and TV2 in High Definition will be here for Christmas. The price for the first MyFreeview|HD box is yet to be announced.

Additional MyFreeview|HD DTRs will be arriving on the market in 2009.

Freeview, the free-to-air digital television and radio platform, continues its strong growth as the ever expanding channel and High Definition (HD) line-up attracts more New Zealanders.

At the end of September 160,496 receivers had been sold, with an additional 37,980 receivers added in the July to September quarter. This makes it the highest quarterly take-up since Freeview launched a mere 18 months ago in May 2007.

This translates to an estimated 10% of New Zealand homes now having access to Freeview, or 380,000 plus Kiwis. The Freeview|HD service, which launched in April this year, is growing rapidly with 27,319 HD capable receivers sold.

Steve Browning, General Manger, Freeview, says that Freeview is pleased to see how swiftly the consumer electronics industry has moved to produce Freeview receivers.

“We have seen a significant increase in the range of receivers and integrated digital televisions this quarter. It provides people around the country with a greater choice of equipment and a better retail price point which has helped us to drive strong levels of take-up.” he says.

Samsung is the latest manufacturer to announce its new television with Freeview|HD built in. This brings the number of TV manufacturers with integrated digital televisions to five,” he adds.

At the same time the channel line-up on Freeview continues to grow with the addition this week of ChineseTV8 to the Freeview|HD service. This service now has 11 TV and 2 radio services, while the Freeview satellite service has 12 TV and 3 radio services.

New Zealand viewers are set to benefit from the arrival of ChineseTV8 on Freeview|HDTM channel 28. The channel will launch in early October.

Chinese TV8’s engaging programme line-up includes news and current affairs from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, popular drama series, variety shows of diverse formats, documentaries with an Asian emphasis and a wide range of Asian focused `infotainment’.

Steve Browning, General Manager, Freeview says Chinese TV8 is an exciting addition to the current array of content available on Freeview|HDTM, which was launched in April 2008 and is available to 75% of New Zealand homes.

‘There are approximately 150,000 ethnic Chinese in New Zealand and almost 75% of those citizens live in the greater Auckland area. Given that ChineseTV8 content will be broadcast predominantly in Mandarin we think there will be a strong demand for it and we’re delighted to have it on our platform,” he says.

“And in the next couple of weeks we’re releasing our latest batch of quarterly figures which will reaffirm the fact that Kiwis (throughout the country) want access to free digital TV. More than 120,000 households (over 280,000 people) had already gained access by the end of June this year,” he adds.

Henry Ho, CEO of World TV Limited, which is responsible for ChineseTV8 and various other Asian media channels, is equally enthusiastic about the imminent arrival of the channel on Freeview|HDTM.

“We firmly believe that Freeview is the next generation platform for broadcasting in New Zealand and we’re partnering with them because it will help improve our reach, our quality and our proposition. It is a very exciting development for the Chinese community, for our business, and for all New Zealanders,” he says.

ChineseTV8 joins an ever increasing list of Freeview|HDTM channels which are available via digital terrestrial (via a UHF aerial) including TV ONE, TV2, TV3, C4, Maori Television, TVNZ6, TVNZ7, TVNZ Sports Extra, Parliament TV, tvCentral (Waikato/BOP only), Radio New Zealand National and Radio New Zealand Concert.

I have a freeview terrestrial set top box. How do I set up my DVD recorder to record freeview channels. A guy at DSE said to plug the recorder directly into the STB. But which lead/s? The RCA leads?

Chinese Television 8 (CTV8) joins the Freeview Team

Yes, CTV8s going to be New Zealands first Free to air, national Chinese programming channel.

After several months of negotiation and extensive planning it is clear that the channel will launch at 2009.

World Television Limited, owner of New Zealands Asian programming channels has just announced that CTV8 (Chinese Television 8 -currently broadcasted in Auckland’s UHF 62) will join the Freeview channels group.

Along with Te Reo, STRATOS, Maori Television and CUE. CTV8 will offer Chinese Programming to over 6% of current Freeview subscribers in New Zealand which brings in New Zealands first Free to air 24/7 Asian and Chinese Channel in Digital quality all for FREE.

The Programming in CTV8 consist of mainly programming from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Only available in Chinese:Mandarin audio and possibly in English audio or subtitles. It is not too sure about the issues concerning the EPG and Online Program Guide.

The Official Launch Date is not exactly clear and final, but the launch will exactly launch in 2009.

Though it is not clear whether CTV8 will either broadcast on Terresterial or Satellite transmissions. For more information regarding CTV8 please contact World TV on 09 5712288 then press 4 for English Assistance.

With the Beijing Olympics only days away, the demand for Freeview boxes has increased dramatically from, New Zealand’s online shop for Free to air and Freeview digital equipment. The Olympics is the world’s biggest television event and during August, TVNZ will bring Beijing to New Zealanders on a scale never seen before. Broadcast for the first time in high definition, live coverage of the Olympics will be available on TV ONE and TVNZ Sport Extra, Freeview’s dedicated sports channel.

Freeviewshop has experienced an incredible demand for the new HD Digital Terrestrial receivers. At the launch of the HD service many New Zealanders were hesitant to buy the receivers with little choice and what many saw as being too expensive. This hesitation has now disintegrated with the launch of the new Draco HD receiver. With stock shipments selling out in a matter of days, the demand for the Draco HD receiver has been like no other receiver available from Freeviewshop.

The demand for the Draco is not just about consumers choosing an alternative, but rather the demand for a state of the art receiver at a competitive price. From a world leader in the international market, Draco utilizes a unique Crystal Clear Engine technology that provides razor sharp images and incredible detail on High Definition to offer an impressive viewing experience.

While the Freeview HD service may not be available to all New Zealanders, the Freeview service is available to all via satellite. Even though the high definition service is not available on the satellite service, many see the advantages over the terrestrial service in terms of cheaper boxes, more channels, guaranteed reception coverage and PVR recording capabilities. This demand is fuelled with the availability of state of the art receivers like the UltraPlus with its high quality component video output. Furthermore, with satellite receivers now available that can upscale reception to 1080i, time shift and record, many New Zealanders are choosing satellite over terrestrial.

With more free to air receivers now available, and with satellite receivers from starting as low as $125, more people than ever are choosing the move to digital TV.

Here’s a cool little tool using Google Maps that checks to see if you’re able to receive Freeview HD.


Toss the telly

Check out this freeview game called “Toss the telly”.

It’s less than a month until the Beijing Olympics in which TVNZ will be broadcasting for the first time in HD via the Freeview platform. Despite being widely hyped at the Freeview HD launch in April, only 7,594 boxes have been sold to date.

Freeview’s marketing manager, Sam Irvine, told us that the figures were in line with their expectations.

“With last weeks launch of the first Freeview|HDTM built in TVs (iDTV) by Sony and with more TV manufacturers on the way, plus another three receivers completing testing and nearly ready for market, we’re confident that increased consumer choice will accelerate uptake.”

“So will the launch next week of the marketing campaigns promoting TVNZs, Freeview exclusive, HD and 2 channel coverage of the Beijing Olympic games. This is the major sporting event of the year and as we saw with the Rugby World cup will have an impact on sales of Freeview products.”

Sky spokesman Tony O’Brien wouldn’t confirm how many customers have signed up for their new MySKY HDi boxes but said they plan to release figures in August.