Tag Archives: Prime

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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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.