Freeview (New Zealand)
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|Type||Digital television provider|
|Headquarters||Auckland City, New Zealand|
Freeview is a non-profit organisation providing free-to-air digital television and digital radio to New Zealand. The organisation is a joint venture between the country's major free to air broadcasters – government owned Television New Zealand and Radio New Zealand, government subsidised Māori Television, and the Australian owned Ironbridge Capital company MediaWorks (operators of TV3, FOUR and C4), . The Freeview service consists of a high definition-capable digital terrestrial television service, called Freeview|HD, to around 86% of the population in the major urban and provincial centres of New Zealand, and a standard definition digital satellite television service, called Freeview Satellite, covering the whole of mainland New Zealand and the major offshore islands. Freeview uses the DVB-S and DVB-T standards on government provided spectrum.
The Freeview service started in May 2007, introducing free-to-air digital television to the country and preparing for analogue switchoff, which began on 30 September 2012 and will be completed on 1 December 2013a In July 2012, it was estimated that 84% of New Zealand households have at least one digitally-equipped television set (including Freeview, Sky and TelstraClear), with Freeview making up approximately 45% of the digital television share.
Freeview-certified set-top boxes and IDTVs, as well as PVRs, are available at most major New Zealand retailers. Uncertified equipment can also be used to receive the service, which may have advantages (cheaper, extra features, international channels) and disadvantages (no/limited EPG, no auto-retuning) over certified equipment.
It was announced on 15 June 2006 that Freeview's free-to-air digital TV service would be available via satellite (DVB-S) from mid-2007 and terrestrial transmissions (DVB-T) from mid-2008. Freeview's marketing campaign began on 23 April 2007 through a website and four TV advertisements shown on Freeview's shareholders' TV channels, using the slogan "Make bad reception a thing of the past", showing people using proverbial substitutes for rabbit ears for receiving TV reception. Since 2012, Māori comedian Pio Terei has been the advertising face of Freeview.
Freeview's satellite service began on 2 May 2007. Initially, there were five television channels: TV One, TV2, TV3, C4, and Maori Television. Freeview's first digital-only channel, TVNZ Sport Extra temporary channel from TVNZ, began on 18 May 2007, providing coverage of the V8 Supercar racing. The channel has since ceased broadcasting.
The Freeview terrestrial service, named Freeview|HD, officially launched on 14 April 2008. The service initially served areas surrounding Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier-Hastings, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin.
A week before switching to all-digital transmission in April 2013, 10 percent of households in the South Island were yet to upgrade from analogue TV.
Freeview has its own eight-day electronic programme guide (EPG), named Freeview EPG; TVNZ's Teletext service was also available until it was discontinued in April 2013. The EPG via the satellite service provides an eight day schedule with programme details on both a traditional EIT and MHEG-5 application, whereas the EPG via the terrestrial service has limited programme details via the traditional EIT with full details available only via the MHEG-5 application.
For all certified NZ Freeview (also all Australian "Freeview EPG" branded) receivers to activate the MHEG-5 EPG, the receiver must remap the remote control's guide button to be an extended function key for use by MHEG-5 applications which are normally limited to the four coloured buttons for launching functions. This is more common on terrestrial than on satellite due to the differences in launch dates. Receivers that do this make the traditional EIT function useless, which is why independent local broadcasters (such as the Hawke's Bay's TVHB) have to pay Freeview to include their scheduling details within the Freeview guide. Broadcasters within the UK do not have this problem as they only use the traditional EIT with MHEG-5's use limited to interactive services such as the Red Button Teletext replacement and internet streaming services.
For the satellite service (up-linked from the Avalon studios in Lower Hutt), up to 18 channels will be available, with six each assigned to TVNZ and MediaWorks frequencies, and the balance to other networks. Given that TVNZ's and MediaWorks's current free-to-air channels will be available on Freeview, there will be eight extra channels in total, between the two.
Higher priority (bit rate) nationwide channels are below 20 which includes analog simulcast digital versions of TV One (four regional on satellite, selected native HD on terrestrial and timeshifted), TV2 (selected native HD on terrestrial), TV3 (four regional on satellite, selected native HD on terrestrial and timeshifted), FOUR, Prime and Maori Television. Digital only channels which includes U, ChoiceTV, C4 (terrestrial only and Sky free-to-air), The Shopping Channel (terrestrial only), Trackside (terrestrial only and Sky free-to-air) and Sommet Sports (terrestrial only from May 2013).
Lower priority (bit rate) nationwide channels are from 20 to 29 which includes Parliament TV (satellite and metropolitan terrestrial only), Firstlight TV (terrestrial only), TV9 (terrestrial only), Cue (satellite and Invercargill only*), Te Reo (satellite only) and Shine TV (satellite only)
* - Due to the lack of a well defined numbering system (administrated and encoded by TVNZ), the Cue TV digital terrestrial Invercargill only service (which started after the nationwide satellite service), uses the 20 to 29 range on both platforms.
Local Kordia inserted terrestrial only channels are from 30 to 39 which includes Channel North (Whangarei), TV33 (Auckland), tvCentral (Waikato and Bay of Plenty, except Rotorua), TV Rotorua (Rotorua), Info Rotorua (Rotorua) and Channel 9 (Dunedin).
Local independent terrestrial channels are from 40 to 49 which from Auckland's Sky Tower @ 50 (706 MHz) includes Shine TV (English Christian), SCTV (Korean Christian), V1 (Korean movies), V2 – YTN (Korean rebroadcast), K-POP (Korean music videos), V4 - MAC TV (Taiwan rebroadcast), V5 – Arirang TV (Korean rebroadcast) and V6 - asiaTV (late night - NHK World). Hawke's Bay's Mount Threave @ 27 (522 MHz) has TVHB. Nelson's Takaka Hill @ 27 (522 MHz) and Observatory Hill @ 26 (514 MHz) includes Mainland TV 1 and 2 (previously simulcast on analogue), local news (looped video), VOA (rebroadcast) and VOA Music Mix (rebroadcast). Oamaru's Cape Wanbrow @ 34 (578 MHz) has 45 South TV. Christchurch's Kordia service has CTV.*
* - Due to the lack of a well defined numbering system (administrated and encoded by TVNZ), the digital terrestrial Christchurch only Kordia service CTV falls into the 40 to 49 range, even though there are unused numbers in the 30 - 39 range.
Services (taken from AsiaSat 3S @ 105 east) that were available before the Freeview launch on satellite were Zing channels ZEE TV, Cinema, News and Punjabi, BHARAT TV, Al Jazeera Arabic and English channels, DWTV, TV5 and VOA.
The Freeview|HD Demo terrestrial channel 100 was removed to free up space for various SD channels.
The TVNZ Sport Extra channel 20 was temporarily provided for the 2008 Olympics, the space on DVB-S was later used by a regional version of TV one.
The Auckland based STRATOS channel 21 was discontinued due to service fee increases that occurred when it's ratings increased, it was later replaced by ChoiceTV.
TVNZ 6 and 7 were discontinued due to the government-provided funding coming to an end and were respectively, replaced by U and a hour delay of TV one.
Freeview will be open to other free-to-air broadcasters if they want to join.
According to Kordia there is space for approximately only 20 channels on the two satellite transponders that Freeview leases as of 2011[update]. However at 22.5 MBd with a FEC of 3/4 one 23 MHz frequency can only accommodate either six SD 4:3 H.262 QPSK channels or four HD 16:9 H.264 8PSK channels while maintaining an optimal bit rate.
Satellite transmissions are broadcast in 576i, but the satellite transponder is high-definition capable. Terrestrial transmissions can be broadcast in high definition, and the government lets the broadcasters decide whether to broadcast in high definition or to continue in standard definition.
Freeview satellite broadcasts have declined in quality since the service launched as TV one and TV 3 are now being broadcast many times to provide region-specific advertisements; this reduces the bandwidth available to other channels on that frequency.
The TVNZ frequency currently has 8 SD channels while the MediaWorks one has 12 TV channels and 5 radio channels.
UHF terrestrial broadcasting using DVB-T MPEG4 (also known as DVB-T HD), and currently covers 86 percent of the country's population. Only three towns with a population over 15,000 do not have terrestrial service – Queenstown, Whakatane, and Blenheim (the latter two towns can receive the service from Tauranga and Wellington respectively, but the signal is weak). Freeview's terrestrial transmissions are broadcast from Kordia's and JDA's transmitter towers.
Freeview uses the DVB-T standard for terrestrial transmission, as established in 2001 with NZS6610:2001, to avoid the multipath problem caused by New Zealand's rugged topography. ATSC, a rival standard that uses VSB modulation, which cannot handle multipath well, so it was not chosen.
Terrestrial Freeview|HD is broadcast in H.264/MPEG-4 AVC. This meant that people who took part in the Auckland digital trial using terrestrial DVB-T MPEG2 receivers needed to change their receivers to DVB-T MPEG4 in order to receive terrestrial Freeview. DVB-T MPEG4 is also known in some countries as DVB-T HD. MHEG-5 is used for the electronic programming guide.
MHEG-5 support is built by the UK's Strategy and Technology who provided the similar applications for the BBC's Red Button and terrestrial internet streaming platform.
Freeview Satellite uses the Optus D1 satellite to broadcast, on two transponders, leased from Kordia. The satellite transmissions are in DVB-S MPEG2. Freeview cannot easily move to MPEG4 broadcasting in the future as the codec is unsupported by a large number of the receivers in the installed base of Freeview Satellite receivers. Unlike the terrestrial service, the satellite service broadcasts a traditional EPG alongside the MHEG-5 EPG.
Freeview certifies set-top boxes but does not sell them; they are marketed by electronics retailers. Freeview certification centres the localisation of multimedia data, primarily for the electronic programming guide (EPG). This data is broadcast over DVB using the MHEG-5 standard. At the moment this is only used to transmit EPG data.
MyFreeview certification of digital video recorders is similar to Freeview certification, but also includes eliminating any practical means to skip over ad-breaks in the recordings or make non-encrypted recordings on an internal or external hard drive or flash drive. These encrypted recordings can only play on the Freeview approved machine that recorded them. This means that if the recorder dies, so too does your archived video collection, because the encrypted files will not play on any other device. As of May 2012, there are currently two certified MyFreeview Satellite receivers available, which are the Dish TV S7090PVR and the DTVS DSR2. There are also many uncertified options are available, these include the Topfield TF6000PVR ES, Ultraplus X-9200HD PVR, Ultraplus 900HD Micro PVR, Ultraplus 720HDMI PVR and the Vu+ Duo. None of these uncertified receivers are limited with regard to ad-break skipping or extracting copies of recordings from the device, there are also lots of other functions available in some of these uncertified receivers such as IPTV features DLNA, and media player functionality and the ability to pick up non-Freeview channels such as Trackside with EPG.
MHEG-5 is used exclusively for a full 8-day terrestrial broadcast schedule as Freeview do not fully populate the DVB EIT EPG, this means there are few uncertified terrestrial receivers on the market able to run the MHEG-5 Freeview EPG application. An uncertified terrestrial DVR would have to know the specific files to extract from the DSM-CC stream to support a full EPG.
Freeview certification requires set-top boxes to disallow high definition video output over connections that do not support HDCP. In practice this means nearly all HD CRT televisions sold in New Zealand and many early flat screen televisions can only receive high definition from an uncertified set-top box, which can output high definition over HDCP-free connections like component cables or on HDMI without HDCP.
Digital TV Labs, is an Officially Approved Test Centre for Freeview New Zealand conformance testing, where manufacturers wishing to deploy devices with the associated Freeview New Zealand logos and access to the Freeview EPG can obtain pass reports.
Kordia owned sites are on mostly crown owned DOC land providing TV and radio digital services to only Freeview and Igloo. Where as JDA equipped sites are only on commercial land. Shared sites such as Auckland's Sky Tower have the advantage of not requiring a separate antenna unlike Nelson's Mainland TV which is located between sites.
Polarisation (ie, antenna orientation) is either horizontal/flat (H) or vertical/tall (V).
Kordia's high power main sites are: Waiatarua (H) for the Auckland metropolitan area (including Pukekohe), Te Aroha (H) for the Waikato, Kopukairua (V) for Tauranga, Mount Erin (V) for the Hawke's Bay, Mount Taranaki (H) for Taranaki, Wharite (V) for the Manawatu, Ngarara (V) for Kapiti, Kaukau (H) for the Wellington metropolitan area, Baxters Knob (H) for Porirua and Tawa, and Fitzherbert (V) for Lower Hutt and Wainuiomata.
Kordia's low power in-fill sites are Pinehill (H) for Auckland's North Shore, Remuera (V) for the Remuera area, Waiheke Island (V) for the eponymous island, Hamilton Tower (V) for Hamilton city, Napier Airport (V) for northern Napier and Mount Jowett (H) for Whanganui.
JDA's low power in-fill sites are Wheatstone Road (H) for Gisborne and Haywards (V) for the Hutt Valley.
JDA's low power in-fill site for Nelson is Kaka Hill (H).
Freeview is the second digital TV system attempted by the government. The first, in 2000, cost NZ$6.8 million.
The government will pay up to NZ$25 million and provide free radio spectrum, estimated to be worth up to NZ$10 million during the transition to digital, the companies involved will pay the remaining $50 million. Canterbury TV estimates it will need to pay NZ$1 million a year if it joins Freeview. The government claims a NZ$230 million benefit to the economy.
SKY had a "free-to-air" package where channels similar to the ones available on Freeview were available for a monthly fee of NZ$18.29, plus an installation fee of NZ$99. Around 90,000 people use this service, generally those who cannot get a high quality signal from analogue terrestrial television. SKY has been relatively unaffected. Because both services use Optus D1, a SKY dish can be used to receive Freeview, but a separate set-top box is required.
- Television in New Zealand
- List of television stations in New Zealand
- Digital changeover dates in New Zealand
- ^a The actual final switchoff will occur in the early hours (2:00am) of Sunday 1 December 2013.
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- Terrestrial coverage is limited to Auckland, Waikato, Tauranga, Hawke's Bay, Manawatu, Kapiti, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin
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- "TV viewers may need two boxes". Stuff. 2006-07-03.
|Wikinews has related news:|
- TVNZ digital TV site
- Ministry of Economic Development on digital TV
- Freeviewshop's Forum for technical and support information
- Technical details