2008 is shaping up to be a big year for DTV in NZ

FreeviewThis won’t be much of a surprise for anyone who read Anthony Doesburg’s article in Fridays Business Herald. His article covers a number of the major changes this coming year for Digital TV in New Zealand, in particular the expected launch of freeview’s terrestrial UHF based service this April will encourage a lot more consumers to make the switch to Digital TV.

Whilst it might be argued that a great many NZ consumers have had DTV for a number of years thanks to Sky Digital, the launch of the freeview service provides DTV with no ongoing costs, and with a number of new advertising-free channels. As of the DTT (Digital Terrestrial Television) launch there is expected to be over 12 TV and 2 Radio channels available via freeview. Most of these channels will be available on the existing DTH (satellite) based services as well as on the new DTT (terrestrial) service. For more details on the channels, some of which are shown below, take a look at the channel information page on freeview’s website.

Maori TV have now announced that their second digital only service will be called “Te Reo”, and will launch on ch 24 from the 28th March, plus TV Central will be available via DTT in the Hamilton and Tauranga areas on ch 30.

TV OneTV 2http://freeviewnz.tv/index.php?section_id=5#tv2TV 3C4aMaori TVTVNZ 6
TVNZ 7TVNZ SportStratosCH 23 - ParliamentCueCh 24 - Te Reo
Ch 30 - TV CentralRadio NZ NationalRadio NZ ConcertCh 100 - Freeview HD

The new DTT platform will offer a combination of HD (high definition) and SD (standard definition) TV services, whilst for the moment the DTH platform can only provide an SD service. As I mentioned in Anthony’s Herald article TV One, TV 2 and TV 3 are expected to be available in HD, with most of the other channels transmitting in SD. You might notice that for some programs your HD picture might look a little soft. This is because not all of their material can be HD sourced, so you are probably watching SD material upscaled to HD resolution. This is perfectly normal practice elsewhere in the world as it reduces the risk of confusing consumers by constantly switching channels between HD and SD.

So how do you get the new DTT service? Like the existing DTH satellite service you will initially need to purchase a new STB (set top box). Existing DTH STBs are only designed for the satellite services, and aren’t compatible with the HD encoding DTT will be using. New STBs for the DTT services are expected to hit the market shortly. These can be connected to your existing TV aerial providing you are within the coverage area for DTT. If you currently get good Prime or Maori reception it is likely you will get the new DTT service, but it might be worth upgrading older aerials.

Initially the DTT service will be available to 75% of the population. If you live outside the area, or have borderline reception, then you can still get freeview via the DTH satellite service.

About 3-9 months after launch you will start to see IDTVs to appear. These Integrated Digital TVs will have the features of a DTT STB built-in, removing the need for a stand alone STB. PVR units that can utilise freeview’s electronic program guide to record your favorite programs in digital quality should also start to appear. There is even expected to be an add-on for Playstation 3 called PlayTV that will allow you to record and watch the freeview DTT service.

As for OpenMedia’s own myPVR product; sadly we won’t be able to offer full support for the DTT service initially, but we do still offer full support for the satellite based DTH service. Should you be interested in a DTT compatible version of myPVR please contact OpenMedia sales.