Tag Archives: digital tv

7 Behind 8 Ball of 9 and 10

Added: April 14th: There’s a romour going round, as reported on Tv Tonight, that 9′s 2nd SD channel will be called Go!99. That’s not yet official. Time will tell. I liked the idea os something like E9, 9 Plus or 9 Extra as it keeps some branding with channel 9. And the regionals would just substitute the “9″ with WIN or NBN. Whereas, with “99″, they have to do something else – such as “88″. Or how about “86″ – then we could have 86 and 99 working together like in “Get Smart”. We await more information.

While updating now, there is still no word from ch 7 about their 2nd SD channel – which is basically what the article below is about.

I found this quote in an article on whatsonthetube.net and thought I’d share it:

“The Seven Network has had success with its new channel with chief executive David Leckie saying, “The HD channel is getting some advertisers and viewers and will break even this year, but it is not the main game. The main game is the new standard definition channel. That will be exciting.”

The remark is made in reference to 7HD, which was up and running since Mid October 2007. The article, published on whatsonthetube.net March 10, 2008,  was about 9HD’s launch mid March 2008, and makes comment about the fact that the 2nd SD channels were allowed to be on air from Jan 1, 2009, and that 2009 would be exciting for TV.

As I write this article, there is still no word yet of ch 7′s plans for its 2nd SD channel. As we all know, ONE HD and its SD counterpart start full time at 7.30 Thur March 26 (now adjusted to 7pm in Melbourne due to the change to the AFL coverage). So that is channel 10 sorted for now.

And earlier this week, ch 9 announced its plans for an entertainment channel even though details were somewhat vague to say the least – with no definite confirmation – or even indication – of a launch date other than some time in the 2nd half of the year.

That just leaves channel 7. Given Leckie’s comment one year ago, you would have thought channel 7 would have been the first to launch its 2nd SD channel. No doubt they are more cashed up than the other networks, being the number one rating network of 2008. Or, maybe ch 7 has decided there was no need to address having a 2nd SD channel for that reason – no need to do anything extra to stay number one. With poor programming generally on ch 9 and ch 10 aiming for the younger demographics and therefore not winning overall ratings, that leaves ch 7 1st every week. Perhaps it is ch 7 waiting to see what 9 does and what success ONE HD has before making any commitments.

But why wait for what the others do? Why not go out on your own like ch 10 has. Even 9′s idea sounds like a free to air version of a cross between FOX8 and TV1 (in their own words), but, even though vague, at least there is some indication.

Still, with all the time these networks have had to get their proverbials together as far as digital multi channeling goes and the time and money they have spent on the FreeView campaign, there is no reason why in March 2009 ONE HD should be the only new commercial extra digital channel. It just continues to be the viewers who lose out time after time and none of them seem to be making any effort in clearing up the digital confusion.

Someone should step in and simplify and unify the process for all of Australia. Set a date for all channels to be up and running – metro and regional – and, as for FreeView, clean up the mess they have created and give the viewers what they want.

Ten to One HD

Lucky for me, last night was one of those nights I could receive the digital signal of ch 10 Sydney without any drop outs. Usually, where I am on the Central Coast, 10 Sydney is one FTA signal which I cannot always receive without drop outs rendering it unwatchable. This is despite the fact that all 8 FTA channels come from the same transmitter site (ABC, SBS, 7, 9, 10, Prime, NBN, SC10).

I tuned into ONE HD at 7.30 to view their 30 minute introduction even though I had already looked at the program and knew what was coming. Just in case there was a last minute miracle, I tuned over to SC10 HD to see if there was anything different there other than the scenery loop we are used to. The answer, of course, was no. SC10 HD continues to broadcast scenery. And seemingly will continue to do so until “mid year”.

As a person not really into sports myself, I probably won’t watch much on ONE HD but can see there will be an audience and a following. The programs on ONE HD currently are not that different to when FOX sports started in Australia 14 years ago. Over time, FOX sports gained ground, gained rights to more and more sports and has split itself over 5 channels in the process (3 SD sports channels, one HD fox sports channel and fox news). Perhaps, based on the Fox sports history, the future of ONE looks bright. A sports channel in a sports mad country really is not a bad idea! Until analogue finishes in 2013, ch 10 should consider showing ONE overnight instead of infomericals for the benefit of those still living in the analogue age.

And I will point out that ch 10, quite fittingly I thought, won the ratings last night convincingly. Even if ONE was only a small contribution to that win, I think it might be a sign of things to come. Congratulations to Ten for giving it a go. If you look at subscription TV ratings each week, sports events usually make up all of the top 10.

The downside, of course, is the fact that you can no longer see any program on ch 10 in HD. I almost forgot that myself when, at 9.30, I was about to chose whether to watch Life on Mars live on 10 or record it and watch Bill Maher on Comedy channel live. I thought – Life on Mars, can watch on HD… oh, hang on, that’d be ONE now… ok – record and watch later. Perhaps 10 could have made the 2nd SD channel the sports channels, with the HD as hybrid between the two, but it just does not have the same ring to it. Sport is one genre that is best seen in HD. The difference is quite substantial. This is no doubt, why on Foxtel, sports channels were the first to be available in HD, together with documentary channels (another genre that is best seen in HD).

Last night, on SC10, the channel 10 news which comes from Sydney spent 5 minutes covering the fact that ONE was starting that night. Viewers of the news were told that all they needed was either a digital TV or a digital set top box to receive ONE. And for ONE HD, the TV and set top box would have to able to receive HD signals. They told us that ONE HD could be seen on digital channel 1. There was absolutely no mention that ONE was not available in regional areas at this stage as well as the fact, that in regional Australia, there is no such channel as digital channel 1.

I wonder how many people in SC10′s viewing area – its northern NSW viewing area is a market about the same size as Adelaide covering over 1 million people – went out today and bought set top boxes as a result? Or finally decided that a new big screen TV with a digital receiver was the best way to spend some of their stimulus money? If SC10 cared about its viewers, not only would it have information out there – either on their web site (which looks like it is not kept up to date), in local papers, or on SC10 itself – relating to what they are doing with ONE, they would have put a disclaimer on the screen during the news or even a 5-10 second announcement stating that ONE will not currently be available in the SC10 viewing area but will be coming soon. It just shows the lack of respect for viewers they have. Maybe television is the lowest priority for Southern Cross, who never delivered 10HD in any case despite promising last year, it would be available “mid year” as well.

Since the announcement of ONE HD late last year, there has been plenty of time for both 10 and SC10 to come to some sort of arrangement. As I have previously mentioned, SC10 has shown some programs simulcast on the HD channel, with he ads replaced by the scenery. Since digital TV started, I am sure that the ch 10 capital city feed they receive contains the full digital bandwidth inc all SD channels and the HD channel. Hence ONE could be shown. But no, not SC10. Out of all the regionals, its programming is the most identically the same as its capital city counterpart just with an extra infomercial or two. Its not as if they have an identity to maintain or to lose. And, like in the cities, SC10 is a distant 3rd in the ratings after NBN and Prime.

All SC10 needs to do is to come clear and explain what the problem is. Explain what they are doing. Explain why, despite being an almost exact copy of capital city ch10, they continue not to offer the same services as far as multi channeling is concerned. It is simple communication. It would take one of the decision makers there less time to write out a quick press release explaining what is going on than it has for me to write this artical pleading for answers.

Come on, SC10, speak up. Tell us what is happening. Lets break out of this annoying code the free to air networks all seem to follow where they do not communicate with their viewers.

FreeView in My View 2

An article in Melbourne’s Herald Sun the other day suggested that LCD and Plasma TVs would be out of date as of May 1 when FreeView starts. On FreeViews’ own web site which, at the time of writing my previous article about FreeView last week stated, that there was no guarantee that all services and channels offered by FreeView would be able to be seen on equipment not branded as FreeView.

Now it says, and possibly as a result of the article: “If you already have an HD integrated TV …. FreeView will automatically become available to you…”.

To anyone who knows anything about Digital TV, that is obviously true and has always been true. And for the majority who don’t, it was very misleading.

As for the Herald Sun, the article refers to the fact that FreeView equipment will be MPEG-4 compliant, which the broadcasters will begin using at a date in the future, my guess would be 2013 when analogue is fully off and the bandwidth freed up could be used to transmit the old and the new signal at once like they are doing with their digital and analogue signals currently. I imagine, with the technology in most HD TVs now, it may be a matter of updating their firmware, but that time will tell.

Our big TVs will continue to work for some time yet, receiving all digital channels broadcasted. Lets hope FreeViews’ new marketing team will make sure that clearing up the confusion is first on their to-do-list. Changing that comment I refer to on their web site is at least a step in the right direction.

ONE HD 2 Weeks To Go

With the launch of ONE HD set to debut in capital cities on March 26, those who only receive regional television are still left wondering when the likes of Southern Cross Ten will carry the first commercial full time secondary channel.

So far, multi-channeling in regional areas has been left behind their capital city counterparts – not that there is much there either. Only Prime (that I know of) carries a simulcast of 7HD complete with the 7HD watermark but inserting their own ads. NBN broadcasts an HD channel, with no watermark but does not carry any of 9′s (very limited) alternative HD programming. Southern Cross 10 occasionally broadcast a Channel 10 show in HD but without the ads. The ad breaks, and pretty well most of all other times, SC10 HD broadcasts music and country scenery they call “HD demonstration”.

So the question remains – when will the regional networks pick up their game with digital multi-channeling? And when 7 and 9 launch their 2nd SD channels later this year, will the regionals be onboard immediately as well? Perhaps its additional expense, but surely it could be as simple as re-broadcasting the captial city version of the additonal channel, even if they leave the ads from the capital city feed. Two years ago, the Prime HD feed on the Central Coast and Newcastle came from Wollongong complete with ads catered for southern NSW and Victoria.

Sadly, it seems these days, there is a lack of willingness for television networks to keep their viewers up to date especially in relation to multi-channeling. We understand times are tough financially which may be a reason holding back networks with their multi-channeling plans, but a simple press release emailed to a few journalists, costing vitually nothing to write and send, would keep us up to date with what is happening. Surely they all do have an idea of what they are about to do.