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.

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