Australian and New Zealand television frequencies
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Television frequency allocation has evolved since the commencement of television in Australia in 1956, and later in New Zealand in 1960. There was no coordination between the national spectrum management authorities in either country to harmonize the channel frequency allocations. Whilst this can be partially explained by geographical and population considerations, the management of the spectrum in both countries is largely the product of the differing economic forces and the respective political responses. NZ was not able to get TV broadcasting going partly because there was still an ongoing rationing of industrial and technical goods in effect up until 1965, an artifact of the 1939 to 1945 War.
The demand and planning for television in Australia intensified after the second world war, with the Chifley government first favouring the existing British model (state monopoly) in 1948, and NZ used more or less the same model for the introduction of Television in the 1960s. Private TV Broadcasting did not come to NZ until the 1980s, but there was no spectrum expansion to cope with the new arrangement.
The state monopoly idea in Australia was later to be revised by the Menzies Government to include privately owned and operated commercial services that formed a hybrid between the arrangements found in the UK and the United States. Conversely, New Zealand opted for the British model of a state monopoly when it commenced television services four years later, with a single channel being available until 1975, and private commercial services not being introduced until the late 1970s.
Channel 37 is a purposefully unused television channel in countries historically using the System M and System N broadcast television system standards in the general frequency region of (600 MHz to 620 MHz). In Australia and NZ (600 MHz to 620 MHz) is used for digital terrestrial television.
- The 600 MHz (~0.5m) frequencies are particularly important to radio astronomy because they allow observations at a frequency between the dedicated frequency allocations near 410 MHz and 1.4 GHz.
- One Radio Astronomy application in this band is for very-long-baseline interferometry.
- Australia allocated, deallocated then reallocated its FM band—but in the intervening years 3 TV channels occupied what is now the global FM band (88 MHz to 108 MHz).
- NZ did not get around to setting aside 88 MHz to 105 MHz until the 1970s, but no dedicated TV channel allocation existed in this band region.
NZ 700 MHz Auction, Sky DVB2 and the end of VHF for TV use
- As part of a so-called Dividend  for the changeover to digital TV, NZ is auctioning off the 700 MHz spectrum areas previously used for TV broadcasting
- SkyTV has adopted DVB2 for the transmission of its Pay TV system, its previous PayTV system used scrambled PAL with unscrambled audio. Australia has no such PayTV system arrangement.
- The VHF spectrum for television use expired in August 2015. The governmental view for doing so is that set top box technology
in use for digital terrestrial television in New Zealand generally only or primarily receives the UHF frequency bands. The future viability of the VHF bands for television purposes is therefore limited so the entire VHF TV band will be abandoned by 2018.
- 1 Historical Development in Australia
- 2 Historical Development in NZ
- 3 Differences in Terrestrial TV frequencies (Digital & Analogue)
- 4 Frequency allocation table
- 5 AU & NZ PAL & DTV Allocation
- 6 Current Australian Channel Allocation by State/Territory as at August 2015
- 7 Current NZ DTV Allocations as of 2016
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Historical Development in Australia
Australian television broadcasting commenced in 1956 in Melbourne and Sydney to coincide with the 1956 Summer Olympics.
Three stations commenced operations on a ten channel spectrum arrangement: the ABC operating in the VHF low band (VHF Ch 2), and the commercial stations operating in the VHF high band (VHF Ch 7 & 9). At the outset, commercial stations were independently owned, but due to economic forces network affiliations were soon established.
This pattern of television spectrum allocation was replicated in most of the state capital cities over the subsequent decade, with the exception of Hobart (one commercial service on VHF 6) and eventually Darwin (both the ABC and the commercial service were allocated in the VHF high band).
Geographical conditions differed in Melbourne and Sydney. The Melbourne transmission towers were located on the nearby Mount Dandenong, and their elevation and broadcasting power on an otherwise relatively flat terrain meant that the broadcasting signal could be reached for some considerable distance, although there were some areas that experienced reception difficulties due to hills or buildings.
In the Sydney "basin" (formed by the Blue Mountains) the broadcast towers were collocated on the original studio sites, and given the undulating geography of Sydney there were many areas that experienced reception difficulties. The Blue Mountain terrain in the West of Sydney meant that capital city broadcasting did not penetrate into the hinterland of NSW, unlike that of Melbourne. It is possible that the penetration of weak signals into the Victorian hinterlands hastened the demand for the establishment of regional television stations, which commenced in 1961.
The Australian Government restricted regional television broadcasting to one commercial service and a repeater station of the national broadcaster from the capital city ABC station. Regional television stations tended to be allocated to VHF 6, 8 or in some cases 10.
Historical Development in NZ
In popular culture, there is a TV series "50 Years of New Zealand Television" that covers in Episode 1 some of the early difficulties of getting TV broadcasting started in NZ, but with no coverage at all with respect to Frequency Allocation.
New Zealand for all practical purposes did not get television broadcasting of any kind until around 1960, when a Pay TV system was allowed to operate in Auckland.
The existing documentaries on TV development in NZ don't cover Frequency Allocation
- The First 5 Years of Television
- Network New Zealand
- 25 Years of Television
- 50 Years of NZ Television
FM Stereo Band Allocation Artifacts
The United Kingdom and New Zealand until recently shared an FM broadcasting allocation of 88.0 MHz to 105.0 MHz. Since the early 2000s both nations have full use of the standard FM Stereo region due to reallocation activities related to their separate implementation strategies for digital television.
This smaller FM Band allocation (less than 20 MHz : 88 MHz to 108 MHz—typical of FM in the rest of the world) can be traced to the 405 line system's VHF allocation block. The UK adopted the 405 line system but NZ did not. The slightly smaller allocation only posed problems for the UK for its densely populated metropolitan regions, but NZ had few problems with the smaller allocation.
NZ's allocation for FM remained smaller as if NZ had adopted the 405 line system. New Zealand considered adopting the 405 line system in the late 1950s to early 1960s but adopted PAL instead. This impacted the frequency allocation block for FM broadcasting making it smaller. New Zealand's FM frequency allocation issue was not fixed until the late 1990s, when the FM band was expanded to the standard full 20 MHz block. As of the mid-2010s NZ totally abandoned its VHF band for UHF channels above 25.
Differences in Terrestrial TV frequencies (Digital & Analogue)
There is a frequency offset for many DTV channels between Australia and NZ, because of historical reasons relating to the introduction of PAL.
The important differences
Australia and New Zealand evolved different TV frequency allocations for historically different reasons
- Both Australia and New Zealand use 7 MHz channel spacing (for PAL B) on VHF, but the frequencies and channel numbers differ substantially because of Australia revising its VHF TV band usage.
- Australia adopted Zweiton Stereo, and NZ adopted NICAM Stereo.
- For Analogue PAL service the only difference is the placement of the NICAM carrier vs the Zweiton carrier, for broadcasters using NICAM. NZ used 5.824 MHz NICAM carrier offset, as used in mainland Europe.
- Australia's Zweiton Stereo offset was not changed, with respect to the European Standard.
The UHF allocations in the South Pacific are nearly identical
- Except for a channel offset factor for Australia: Australia, NZ, Fiji and PNG have the same UHF band allocation for TV broadcasting.
Different Audio CODECs in AU and NZ
- NZ DTV Audio on SD channels use the newer AAC compression with MPEG-4 LOAS encapsulation, and Australia's DTV standard simply does not use AAC.
- The different DTV CODECs being used don't affect the Frequency Allocation, but this technical difference may relate to the different use of (A2 and NICAM) Stereo in the 1990s.
What led to the differences
What are the important underlining circumstances that led to the different allocations?
- Universally the VHF low band channels of 0, 1, 2 and 3 were allocated on an ad hoc basis in Australia and NZ without any trans-Tasman coordination.
- Australia decided against adopting the 405 line system, and indirectly forbade its experimental transmission in the VHF band until the 625 line system could be launched.
- Only after AU-VHF-6 was allocated did NZ adopt the same VHF high band allocations as Australia.
- There never have been any ongoing attempts at coordination of TV allocations in Australasia until the 1990s.
- Australia adopted 7 MHz channel spacing (PAL B) on UHF
- New Zealand considered using 405 lines for television, but adopted 7 MHz 625 lines on both the VHF low band and high band. New Zealand's initial choice of frequencies in the VHF range (CH: 1, 2, 3) was done on an ad hoc basis. The ad hoc allocations in the VHF low band immediately led to substantial discrepancies with Australia's VHF TV service allocation for channels allocated before AU-VHF-6.
- The NZ 405 line allocation principal only affects NZ VHF CH1, CH2 and CH3.
- Fiji, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand all adopted 8 MHz channel spacing (PAL G) on UHF more or less in unison due to their later adoption of PAL.
Channel obsolescence related to DVB-T transition
With the introduction of Digital Television in Australia VHF channels 6-12 and UHF 28-69 will become primary.
Modified channels (2001–2004)
- With the introduction of digital television into Australia in 2001, VHF (Band III) channels 10 and 11 were moved up by 1 MHz.
- This allocation change allowed a full 7 MHz for a new channel (9A).
- VHF channel 12 was added following the new channel 11 to compensate for the change.
Obsolete channels (2011–2013)
- VHF (Band I & II) channels 0-2 and 5A ceased to be used for television when analogue television broadcasting was discontinued.
- Television broadcasts on channels 3, 4, and 5 were previously discontinued in most regional areas in 1991 and 1992. Since the frequencies for these channels overlapped the range used for FM radio, any television broadcasts on these channels prevented the allocation of new FM radio licences, predominantly in regional areas.
- VHF Low Band DX using ITU TV Band (I) and part of Band (III) from NZ may disappear with the transition to DVB-T.
Channel obsolescence issued related to DVB-T transition
- The entire VHF TV band in NZ was fully deallocated by December 2015.
- VHF Band DX from Australia to NZ has not totally disappeared with the transition to DVB-T, but only 3 Australian VHF channels are really capable or fit for tropospheric ducting.
Australasian region VHF low band obsolescence issues
In some parts of the world, like Europe, the VHF TV band is used by other services because UHF has propagation qualities that are better suited for densely populated urban centres and regions. However, NZ has chosen to completely cease all TV broadcasting on VHF by 2018 and use the band for other purposes.
Why VHF will remain in use in Australia for TV broadcasting
- With the introduction of Digital Television in Australia, VHF Channels 6 to 12 and UHF Channels 28 to 69 will be used.
- VHF Channels 0 to 5A will cease to be used for television when analogue television broadcasting ceases.
- Due to the economic constraints of broadcasting in rural Australia, it is expected that the VHF high band channels (those above 5A) will remain in use with no appreciable changes.
Channel numbering issues
Frequency allocation table
DVB-T channel allocation note
- The allocation for terrestrial television must be seen in terms of uniform system G 8 MHz blocks (for bands IV and V in NZ) and system B 7 MHz blocks (for bands I to V in Australia) after the cessation of analogue television.
- DVB-T, analogue systems B and G utilize the same 250 kHz guard-band.
- After analogue television transmissions have ceased, only the preferred main carrier wave centre frequency should be listed as QAM modulates all AV channels and other data into a single H.222 data stream.
- Digital services on channels above Ch 51 are going to change channel after the analog services are switched off. The ACMA has published the pre-stack and post-stack channel in a spreadsheet on its website.
- Australian channel 12 was discontinued decades ago but is being reintroduced with digital television, generally for the ABC in the major metropolitan areas.
- A common problem (for metropolitan areas in particular) of difficulty receiving digital 10 (on channel 11) and digital ABC (on channel 12) is because older antennas were not designed to receive channels 11 and 12. Many VHF Band III antennas were only designed to receive channels 6 to 10 for analog television transmissions.
- Australia and New Zealand analog sub-carriers use the standard B/G offsets from the vision carrier.
AU & NZ PAL & DTV Allocation
Table notes : Text in italics means these frequencies are not currently used but set aside as a Guardband or for future use.
|FM Mono Audio
|FM Mono Audio
|Band II||3||FM Stereo (1975)||86.25||91.75||FM Stereo|
|4||FM Stereo (1975)||95.25||100.75||FM Stereo|
|5||FM Stereo (1975)||102.25||107.75||FM Stereo|
Current Australian Channel Allocation by State/Territory as at August 2015
The following tables demonstrate the number of frequency allocations in each state and territory of mainland Australia and now the Cocos Islands, Christmas Island and from the Bayu-Undan Gas Project in the Timor Sea.
Australia has completed the shut down of analogue services, and digital frequencies occurring above UHF channel 51 have been progressively reallocated to lower adjacent channels to free up the higher spectrum for other uses.
In October 2014 there were some 3188 digital channels assigned throughout Australia and its external territories; however, the reallocation procedures have seen a decline in the number of assigned channels to 2801 by August 2015.
The Number of Digital Channels in a state
- The external territories include the Cocos Islands, Christmas Island & the Bayu-Undan Gas Project in the Timor Sea.
National Broadcaster Transmission sites
The ABC has the highest number of transmission sites: often, but not always, SBS and ABC signals are transmitted from the same masts.
Commercial Broadcaster Transmission sites
Some commercial broadcasters have a call sign that operates over multiple areas, whereas others may only serve a single area. This is due to historical ownership of regional stations. Nevertheless, most regional stations are now affiliated with the major metropolitan networks.
|Broadcast Call Sign||ACT||NSW||VIC||QLD||SA||TAS||WA||NT||Extra territorial*||Nationwide|
Current NZ DTV Allocations as of 2016
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DTV Channel 25 is being used as a Guardband, but could be used if a channel reallocation be needed.
- Television channel frequencies
- Moving image formats
- Broadcast television systems
- "Digital television services on Channel 12". Australian Government. August 2012. Archived from the original on 18 October 2012.
- "List of licensed broadcasting transmitters". ACMA. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
- VHF & UHF Frequency user databases
- New Zealand TV Channels
- Radio Spectrum Usage in New Zealand
- Current TV Bandplan