Freeview

Appears freeview have done some work on their website in the lead up to the terrestrial launch in a couple of months.

The front page now has a series of video clips promoting some of the biggest shows available via the freeview channels.

Another item of interest is their online EPG for all of the freeview channels.

Lastly they finally have some details about the HDTV service at http://freeviewnz.tv/index.php?section_id=8

The DTT (Digital Terrestrial TV) tests have just started in Auckland, and tests have been happening for several weeks in other parts of NZ. Whilst most of the current programming is simple test loops, the Maori TV feed is a live one.

If you have the current hardware/software combination in a PC you can watch Maori TV in digital via your UHF aerial in Standard Definition H.264.

A big thank you to Kordia for all of the work they have been doing around the DTT launch, and the early Christmas present of a live feed for Maori TV. Really looking forward to the April launch of the full DTT service.

At 12:30 we welcomed Triangle TV into the world of digital TV with their official launch on freeview. This was great news as they become the first regional broadcaster to go digital free to air. This is great news for both Triangle, and freeview.

Probably only an hour or so later the channel suddenly appeared on Ch 89 on Sky STBs, along with Parliament TV on Ch 94. No electronic program guide information yet, but the channels are visible.

Now I’m wondering what the official reaction is going to be from freeview and Kordia? All the work put in by Kordia to assist Stratos, only for it to appear on Sky? If they don’t put up much of a fight I’m sure we will see TVNZ-6 on Sky’s STBs in no time.

There is of course the chance I’m taking the wrong angle on this, and it had all been arranged with Sky TV from the start, but somehow I doubt it.

Parliament TV will include live broadcasts of all sessions from the House of Representatives including question time, legislative debates, matters of urgency and extended coverage if the House sits outside of regular hours.

This will be broadcast live giving viewers the opportunity to see the vigorous debate that is the hallmark of a healthy Parliamentary democracy.

“We have made the feeds of live coverage from the debating chamber available to all broadcasters but have always wanted as many viewers as possible to see the full, unedited debates. Freeview will enable us to do that, ” the Speaker, Hon Margaret Wilson, said.

Steve Browning, Freeview’s General Manger, says

“We’re delighted that Parliament TV has chosen to launch its service on Freeview and complement our existing services of TVONE, TV2, TV3, C4, Maori Television, Radio NZ National and Concert, and TVNZ Sport Extra. This takes Freeview’s digital television offering to a total of eleven services.”

“Freeview is offering Kiwis a high quality range of programme choices for the one-off cost of a set-top-box. So it is shaping up as an increasingly attractive offer, evidenced by the 41,000 households who have already chosen free-to-air digital satellite reception,” he adds.

More information can be found on the Freeview website.

The Dominion Post has reported that Sky TV may have found a way to let its subscribers tune in to TVNZ’s new free to air channels TVNZ6 and TVNZ7 by implementing a firmware upgrade to their existing bset top boxes which would allow them to toggle between Freeview and Sky.

TVNZ’s Rick Ellis said “Irrespective of technical issues about whether Sky can or can’t take the channels, we would be extraordinarily surprised if a pay-TV business, substantially foreign-owned, would seek to antagonise the Government and its crown-owned broadcaster in this way” but Sky’s John Fellet dismissed the comment saying that if the government had any concern then they should contact him.

However, a spokesperson for the Broadcasting Minister, Steve Maharey, said the debate over whether Sky should be able to offer TVNZ6 and TVNZ7 is a “commercial matter” and Mr Maharey will not get involved.

Does anyone else find it incredibly ironic that the government thinks it is a commercial matter and shouldn’t get involved. They seemed to have no problem getting involved over the commercial matters of salary.

According to Russell Brown’s blog:

“Interestingly, although Vodafone’s revelation at the conference that it has launched an “adult” channel in Vodafone Live made headlines last week, everyone seems to have missed TV3 programe director Kelly Martin’s comment at the same event that Media Works also isn’t ruling out an adult channel as one of its Freeview offerings.”

http://www.publicaddress.net/default,4446.sm#post4446

Yesterday’s Dominion Post reports that there are currently no plans for TVNZ 6 and TVNZ 7 to be made available on Sky and no plans for Prime to be available on Freeview.

Bloggers such as David Farrar at Kiwiblog and Gary at Geekzone are complaining that it’s inconvenient to have to buy and use a separate box just to get TVNZ 6 and TVNZ 7 when they (and over half the country’s households) already have Sky. They believe TVNZ should be “slightly more appreciative towards Sky” and feel this decision “screws” over the public.

I asked Eric Kearley, General Manager of Digital Services at TVNZ to respond and to explain their perspective on the issue. We met him for the first time on Saturday night at the excellent Great Blend and had a great talk.

He says he’d love for TVNZ 6 and TVNZ 7 to be made available via Sky, but there’s a good reason why they won’t be in the short term:

“Until there is a mechanism which ensures some of the value Sky generates through tax payer funded local content is re-invested into such content, it would be suicidal for TVNZ.

The simplest answer here is: why should the New Zealander taxpayer subsidise Murdochs profits?

Over 50% of viewing on Sky is to Free to air channels. It would be commercially impossible for Sky to exist without including these free to air channels in their packages and then charging hefty subscription fees for the whole package.

Through doing so Sky generates revenues only slightly smaller than the whole free to air industry.

Other channels in these packages – foreign ones – get paid millions for allowing Sky to bundle their channels with others and charge.

But Sky does not generally pay domestic channels, and definitely not free to air ones.

So you have a situation in which:

  • The New Zealand taxpayer funds local content on free to air channels
  • This local content is the most viewed on the most viewed channels on Sky and generates enormous value for Sky.
  • This value if transported to Murdoch or invested in foreign channels which makes it harder for the NZ free to air channels to survive.”

It’s interesting to me – as an outsider – that Sky pays large sums of money for some channels but not for free to air channels (as odd as that sounds).

While it’s a pain in the butt for consumers having to get another box if you want these channels even if they have Sky, I can also see TVNZ’s point of view on this. Is this the sort of situation where the government needs to step in? Do you think Sky should re-invest into local content? How is this handled in other countries?

Freeview may not have the same impressive lineup of channels like Sky, but when you consider what it is going to have, it looks perfect for those without Sky and with bad reception.

1. ONE
2. TV2
3. TV3
3. C4
4. Maori Television
6. TVNZ 6 (coming end of September)
7. TVNZ 7 (coming 2008)
Triangle Stratos (coming start of October)
Alt TV (coming 2008)
20.TVNZ Sport EXTRA
25. TVNZ 6 (TVNZ WIDE) (Temp test channel)

Also in the mix are Radio New Zealand National and Radio New Zealand Concert.

Triangle Television is set to make broadcasting history with the advent of Triangle Stratos, which, for the first time ever, will make regional television available to the entire country. The new channel will broadcast on the Freeview platform.

Triangle Television currently operates two successful regional channels – Triangle Television Auckland, which has been broadcasting for nine years, and Triangle Television Wellington, which launched almost a year ago. Both are the only non-commercial terrestrial television stations operating in their areas.

Jim Blackman says: “New Zealand is more than ready for a national, subscription-free channel that provides alternatives to mainstream viewing. Even before Freeview began broadcasting, it was clear to us that there was a significant demand from around the country for Triangle Television’s style of programming. Now, through Triangle Stratos, that need can be answered.”

Triangle Stratos will be an exceptional mix of local and global programming with a huge variety of viewing options, and will offer a wide variety of programmes from a number of sources: programmes provided by other regional stations around New Zealand; programmes provided by ethnic and minority groups around the country; and international news services and current affairs shows from prestigious global broadcasters including Germany’s DW-TV, Voice of America and Al Jazeera. To add to the mix, not all programming will be in English.

“There will be the opportunity for new immigrants and those learning a new language to hear international news from other countries in their local language,” says Mr Blackman.

Triangle Television Auckland and Triangle Television Wellington will continue with their unique local schedules and Triangle Stratos will have its own programme schedule to meet the needs of a more national audience.

All Freeview viewers with a satellite set top box will have access to Triangle Stratos which will be transmitted via the transmission networks of broadcast and telecommunications provider Kordia™. Freeview currently comprises free-to-air broadcasters Television New Zealand (TV One, TV2 and TVNZ Sport Extra), MediaWorks (TV3 and C4), Maori TV and Radio New Zealand.

Freeview General Manager Steve Browning says: “We’re delighted to have Triangle Stratos available exclusively on the Freeview satellite platform as it opens up a rich tapestry of local and international programming options that have not previously been available to viewers around the country.”

“We are using our nationwide assets to help get the smaller channels onto the Freeview platform. The nationwide Freeview platform, powered by Kordia™, allows Triangle Stratos to aggregate regional content and redistribute nationwide, which means a richer viewing experience for everyone,” says Kordia™ CEO Geoff Hunt.

Introducing the Hills Signal Master HSM075, one of the two Freeview approved set top boxes. The HSM075 is a compact little unit that is relatively easy to install by yourself. Hopefully this little guide will be of some use. Please feel free to add your comments and other tips.

What’s in the box?

  • HSM075 Set Top Box + power supply
  • Stand
  • Remote Control + batteries
  • 1 Scart to composite cable
  • 2 IF cables*
  • 1 2-way splitter*

*Used if you want to connect alongside Sky

First things first, connect all the cables. If you already have Sky then you will need to use the 2-way splitter and the 2 IF cables otherwise you’ll be plugging directly into the IF port on the back.

The Scart to Composite cable will connect the unit directly to your TV or Projector however there is a second Scart port for you to connect to your VCR/PVR or to a second TV if you wanted to get tricky. You will need to purchase a second cable from somewhere like Dick Smith Electronics though.

Once everything is connected, fire the beasty up. If it’s working you should first see the Hills logo before you’re greeted with the first setup screen where you should select your region. Use the arrows on your remote to navigate the menus and hit select when you want to choose an item. When you’ve selected your region, move on to the next step.
Hills HSM075 Install 1
As you can see, the Signal Strength is fine but there is no Signal Quality. No Signal Quality means no reception so grab your remote and using the arrow keys move up to the top line until the 11300 is highlighted.
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Then, using the left or right arrow, select 10750
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The signal quality should light up and you should start to receive transmission.
Using the arrows, highlight the Next button and press select.
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Your Set Top Box will now scan the satellite and pull in the channels.
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When the search is complete, you should see some results.
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Click done and that’s it. You’re ready to start watching!
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