Tag Archives: NBN

Go 99 Preview

It seems that channel 9 is experimenting or possibly testing what they may be doing with their new channel Go 99 set to launch in August.

From next Sunday, there will be many more hours of break away 9HD programming during the day. The break away programming starts at 11am and concludes at 4.30pm, Monday to Friday. There will also be break away hours on Sunday, as well as the usual small offering after 10.30pm Monday to Wednesday. on Thursday nights, the HD channel is used to broadcast the opposite football show to the one shown on the main channel (in Sydney, NRL is on the main channel, AFL on 9HD for example).

Programs include: 11am Just Shoot Me, 11.30 Seinfeld. 12pm Movies. 2pm previous nights’ 7.30 prime time show or similar, 3pm Bewitched, 3.30 I Dream of Jeannie double – till 4.30.

Unfortunately, though, this means that you will not, for the short term, be able to see Ellen, The View and ET in HD. I do believe, though, that if a show is available in HD, it should be shown on the HD channel in HD. I can understand why they might be testing the ground using 9HD, but hopefully this is not a sign of things to come. Hopefully. GO 99 will be the home of all these entertainment shows, and 9HD will be left to simulcast 9’s shows that are in HD. Only when a show on 9 main is not in HD should they ever consider breaking away – which, once Go 99 is up, an HD break away would mean three ch 9’s.

With channel 9’s very poor programming reptuation in recent times, the launch of Go 99 could be their saviour giving the network the chance to air many shows that they don’t feel comfortable to air simply because they are not instant million plus ratings hits. Let’s hope they don’t treat programming on Go 99 the same way they do on their main channel.

Let’s also hope, that the launch of Go 99 will be carried in regional markets as well. So far, NBN has not offered any of 9HD’s break away programming. I some areas, WIN has.

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Millionaire Vs Deal

So ch 9 have decided to put the latest incarnation of Who Wants to be a Millionaire against ch 7’s Deal or no Deal at 5.30pm Mon-Fri from April 20.

While I am happy to see the end of at least half an hour of Antiques Roadshow – a show that does not even appeal to my 70+ year old parents – I don’t think Millionaire will work at 5.30pm. Deal has been around for so long, and grown such a huge audience, that 9 really don’t ever have a hope going against it with a game show. Something like Extra, currently only seen in Brisbane, would do better at 5.30. Keep it different. There are not that many viewers around at 5.30 compared to 7, and my guess would be, that they would get much better advertising revenue at 7 than they do at 5.30.

I cannot understand why ch 9 would bother “copying” 7 by putting game show against game show. Why not go for something different? Why not put on Millionaire at 7pm where ch 9 are now coming 4th in the ratings on a daily basis? Maybe, its because some of the regionals have ACA on at 7. Usually, though, the regionals would put on the 7pm show at 5.30. The regionalsdon’t bother with 2.5 Men as they no doubt see no point. Even the regionals, like NBN, have an hour of Antiques Roadshow from 5-6.

History has proven that putting a game show against another game show does not work. The well established show will win. In this case, that is Deal. I would be very surprised, if after the first episode or 2, if Millionaire makes much of a dent on Deal. Then ch 9 will swing their well worn axe. And another game show dies from not being put at a suitable time or given a decent chance.

The other reason why it will fail at 5.30 is that the format is quite heavy for 5.30. What I mean here, is that, a question and answer show is better later when people are more relaxed, not at 5.30 when they are just getting home, just putting on dinner or generally only have TV on in the background. At 7, its more likely to be watched. With Deal, its very light. Pick a case, guess what is in it, bank makes an offer, contestant accepts or rejects. Repeat the process a few times until there’s a smaller number of cases left when it gets more exciting. For me, that’s about the time I tune in – the last ten to fifteen minutes. I switch over when 10 news goes to sport.

If Millionaire does fail at 5.30, I hope they will have the sense to try it at 7pm. With the new Home Made show now slated to be 2 one hour episodes a week, and the promised magazine style show possibly being incorporated as part of a new one hour 4.30 news format, that still leaves 7pm on ch 9 unanswered.

Sure – 2.5 Men used to rate well, and if you consider 1 million good ratings at 7pm, then it is doing OK for 9. But surely it must be recognised that the only reason it is actually doing well is due to a lack of options. Look at the choices at 7 – 2.5 Men, Home and Away, Biggest Loser and ABC news. 9 is now regulary coming 4th at 7pm. In regional markets, where ACA is on at 7pm, this is not the case. I believe, that if every one had access to ONE HD, that Sports Tonight would rate better than that. Considering that 7 news at 6 scores 1.5 million, there is no reason why a decent show at 7pm cannot do the same.

Channel 9 really need to start thinking outside the square here. Sure – ch 7 got to where they are by copying ch 9 intially – and doing a good job of it at the time – but 9 cannot expect to claw their way back by copying 7. Eddy is not going to do it for them at 5.30.

We need more game shows on TV, but don’t put them against each other.

ONE HD on SC10 Soon

Although I am yet to see one myself, I have been told by a few people now that SC10 Newcastle are advertising that ONE HD is coming soon to SC10. I am happy to hear that, as that would put some confusion to rest, but still don’t know why they would not have done that earlier.

It is interesting to read about the trouble some people on Newcastle are going to to get ONE HD. I found a forum with a number of posts from people in various parts of Newcastle who are already watching ONE HD or are trying to get it. From Newcastle, they have the choice to either trying to receive their TV direct from Sydney or to pick up UHF re-transmissions of Sydney TV from the Central Coast. You can read one of the forums here.

Depending on weather conditions, sometimes you can receive distant TV stations, but not on a full time basis. I remember, back in the early-mid 80’s, when I lived in Sydney, we would regularly receive WIN-4 from Wollongong as well as NBN-3 from Newcastle on a fine summer afternoon. The phenomenon is known in ametuer radio circles as “skip” where a signal from a distant transmitter literally “skips” or bounces off the ionosphere (an atmospheric layer) allowing it to travel further as the signal generally can travel in without much loss. The signal received would sometimes flow in and out – changing in strength – but was definitely watchable.

There was one day in particular where all 12 analogue channels were filled (except for ch 5, as this frequency is also used for FM radio). At the time, we had SBS on ch 0. A regional ABC filled ch 1. 2 was ABC-Sydney. 3 was NBN Newcastle. 4 was WIN-Wollongong, 5A was ABC probably from Newcastle, 6 was from Orange I think, 7 Sydney, 8 was NEN from memory from Taree, 9 and 10 Sydney, and 11 NRN-Coffs Harbour. On that day, I was able to watch Neighbours (yes, I watched it back then) at 5.30 on NRN rather than waiting to see it at 7pm on 10 (in 1988, Neighbours was on at 7pm).

Now, in the digital age, you could not have this happen in Sydney anymore as channels 6,8 and 11 are used as the digital components for channels 7,9 and 10 respectively. However, out in the country, the reverse could be true. You may be able to receive Sydney TV when atmospheric conditions are right and “skip” happens on a fine Summers’ afternoon. Which means, you may be able to catch glimpses of ONE HD outside of the city.

You would to make sure you have a VHF TV aerial, and have to re-tune your digital receiver when the conditions are right. If you are lucky, you’ll get the Sydney (or other capital city channels) but only briefly. Obviously you could not rely on this happening regularly. Also, fluctuating signal strength may mean that digital signal will drop out from time to time.

Enough reminiscing of the days of being able to flick through TV channels to see what was there. With most of them on UHF now in any case, chances of seeing distant channels are much lower. Furthermore, with the regionals being much the same as the city channels (other than digital channels and break away programming) there is little point going to any effort in any case.

I had read, that one possible reason why ONE HD is not on SC10 yet is because they are putting together a new digital facility in Canberra, and it is not until the middle of the year they will have the facility fully functional. With 10 HD breakaway programming running since late 2007, they have had plenty of time to prepare for the expansion of multichanneling. Apparently, this new facility will pretty much control all of SC10’s coverage area including dealing with insertion of local ads to feed to numerous different areas.

There is also a rumour, that I cannot seem to be able to confirm anywhere, that ONE HD and/or ONE SD will be broadcast through Foxtel from July. Sounds like, in the middle of this year, there will be alot of action as far as multi channeling is concerned.

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.

No Joy For Regionals

With ONE HD starting in the 5 big capital cities tomorrow, the regionals, mostly serviced by Southern Cross 10, will have to wait until a so far unspecified date called “mid year”. On the Central Coast of NSW, where I am, we do get Sydney TV as well as Newcastle (with some Central Coast ads inserted from time to time) but, for some reason, the ch 10 Sydney* signal is very weak where I live and, more often than not, impossible to watch 0n a digital receiver. It works on a good day, hopefully tomorrow night will be OK so I can at least see the welcome launch.

All SC10 would have to do is allow the 10HD feed through, filling the ad gaps with their music and scenery until they get their act together with advertising agreements. Its just a flick of a switch. I have watched Rove before on SC10 HD with the scenery as the ad breaks. They can do it. Its not hard.

Furthermore, the little ONE HD I have actually seen so far (the swimming late afternoon), the ads seemed not to be region specific and could easily carry over the the regionals (except possibly Foxtel ads, but the “not available all areas”  clause can cover that).

And then there is Mondays’ press release from ch 9 detailing the launch of ch 9’s second SD channel. Interestingly, it is also scheduled for this amazing time called “mid year”. But, with this announcement, there is no word as to what 9’s affiliates WIN and NBN will do. NBN do transmit an HD channel (80) but is only always a simulcast of their main channel with HD shows broadcasted in HD (and, here on the Central Coast, does not have the Central Coast ads. Only Newcastles’). The audio, though, is usually not full 5.1. I’ve heard that WIN HD is just scenery like SC10.

There should be greater cooperation between the regionals and the metropolitan networks so a more unified national approach could be taken. It may even expedite the development of multi channeling in Australia by sharing resources and programming. Especially in the case of 9 and WIN as WIN has many programming resources 9 does not have.

Finally, as of writing, there is no word on ch 7’s plan for its 2nd SD channel. On Feb 26, according to www.tvtonight.com.au, ch 7 would make the announcement within the month – meaning there should be an announcement by March 26. I’d say this is the reason 9 made their announcement on Monday – to beat ch 7 to it. Maybe they can outdo 9 and 10 by involving Prime in the announcement. And, for the record, Prime is the ONLY regional to broadcast break away HD content in line with ch 7.

* There are three major relay transmitter locations on the Central Coast – one near Gosford, one near Wyong, one at Bouddi – both transmitting 8 channels (ABC, SBS, 7, 9, 10, Prime, NBN, SC10) on varying UHF frequencies. A VHF antenna in some areas will get 7, 9 and 10 Sydney, as well as NBN-3 Newcastle but usually you’d use a UHF aerial pointed to your nearest relay transmitter. Further, NBN-3’s digital component is on UHF anyway.

Late Night Informercials – Why?

You’ve got to feel sorry for those who do not have Foxtel and are up very late stuck with free to air TV only. Apart from the ABC, no free to air network offers continuous programming throughout the grave yard shift from Midnight to dawn.

Ch 7 have recently added an extra hour to their over night infomercials, running from 1am to 4am. And on Prime, its even worse – they get informercials right through to 5.30am. Strangely, 7HD on weeknights finish at 2am or so before reverting back to normal 7 programming. 9 and NBN has 2 hours of infomercials from 2-4am, and over at Ten, its 2 hours from the ridiculously early 12.30 through to 2.30am. SC10 has 4 hours. Sobetween 7, 9 and 10 there is half an hour when all you can see is informercials. On top of that, the regionals have extra infomercials during the day. One example is 11am on NBN. They don’t show the 11am news that is on 9 instead having infomercials for half an hour.

So why is this the case? There was a time when there used to be programming overnight. You could see old episodes of Prisoner on ch 10 in the early 90’s at 3 or 4am. Ch 7 used to have News Overnight – a collection of (mostly) NBC news shows from the US. Ch 9 used to play old movies. Going back further, 10 used to have music videos over night.

Obviously the networks are paid to show these infomercials, but in my opinion, I can’t imagine anyone would be actually watching them – so therefore why would an advertiser bother? It would be better if the networks showed actual progammes at those hours as they’d be able to sell the advertising space to regular advertisers or just have the two minute infomercial style ads in the breaks like they have on some of the Foxtel channels and daytime TV.

Of course, this advertising space would be quite cheap, but that’s not a bad thing – it would give companies who usually cannot afford to advertise on TV the chance to advertise cheaply. And if paying staff to work that late is an issue, then pre-record the night time programming during the day. That way, there is no need for any additional staff overnight. Why not replay prime time? 2 or 3 hours of shows from 7.30 onwards repeated overnight. All that would need to be done would be to change the ads, which, if they were pre-recording, they could insert the different ads into the recording. Apart from providing something for people to watch, this would give viewers the chance to watch a show they may have missed earlier.

And in two weeks time, we will have the option of watching sports free to air on ONE HD. According to their program, sport continues overnight, uninterupted. Perhaps 10 could broadcast ONE on its main channel instead of informercials overnight. And as for SC10, well they have not yet informed anyone as to when they will offer ONE HD. See my previous post about that one.

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.