Update: FTA TV Answers My Questions

, posted: 11-Jul-2011 16:08

Updated @ 1:47pm, 14/7/2011: TVNZ have now responded to the questions put to them and these have now been added.

This past Friday evening I sent some questions to the free-to-air networks regarding things I wanted answered and this was done, not just for me, but for the Geekzone community as well.

The inspiration for me doing this was a question put to other members about the possible introduction of high definition broadcasting on Prime and/or Maori TV from the commencement of the RWC later this year..

Now since no one decided to ask Prime or Maori TV directly I took it upon myself to do so but I also wanted answers on other issues from the other FTA networks.

So far I have only received responses from Prime (Sky) and TV3 and here is what they said.

Q. Dolby Digital 5.1, as I understand it, is coming to TVNZ soon. What exact date will this be occurring on and will it cover both TV One and 2?
A. The introduction of 5.1 audio for TV ONE and TV2's HD shows is just around the corner. We'll make an announcement confirming the launch of this new service in due course.

Q. Why does TVNZ not advertise certain programs as being in high definition? Viewers noticed this with Wimbledon, but it wasn't mentioned in any on-screen TV guide. Why was this?
A. Where possible HD information is included in the listings we provide to the various platforms and devices with on screen TV guides. Viewers can also look out for the HD logo displayed on screen at the time of broadcast. There have been rare instances where we have not have received advance notice that a programme is to be supplied in HD format - as a result, HD information is not displayed. In the case of Wimbledon, the listings didn't note the HD format. Unfortunately, we dropped the ball on that occasion.

Q. Will TVNZ be looking at putting TVNZ U and TVNZ 7 in HD sometime in the future?
A.We have no plans at this stage to offer TVNZ U and TVNZ7 in HD.

Thanks to Georgie Hills at TVNZ for taking the time to answer my questions.

Q. Some HD content like Dr Phil has been shown, on screen, as being in high definition but this hasn't been mentioned in any on-screen TV guide. What's the reason behind this?
A. This is an oversight and a database flag has not been entered for the episodes of this series. I will have this fixed today.

Q. Will TV Works be looking at extending HD to FOUR and/or C4 and Tv3+1?
A. There are no plans to extend HD to these channels at this time.

Q. In a similar question to the one posted above will Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound be extended to these channels as well?
A. There are no plans to extend Dolby Digital (5.1) to these channels at this time either.

I'd like to thank Kristopher Johnson at Mediaworks for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions.

Q. I was wondering if Prime will be going HD when the Rugby World Cup begins and if not, will it look at doing so after the RWC has concluded?
A. The move to HD across the world is very expensive. Each HD truck costs around $25 million US and the move for broadcasters to HD will take some time. We hope you can appreciate that rights for programmes will cost us 4 times more in HD as compared to the ones we have in standard definition on Prime.

Upgrading channels to HD is a transitional process and there is no exact timeframe as to when Prime will be available in HD on our network. However, we have recently added ESPN channel on High Definition from 1st of June 2011.

I am still to hear back from Maori Television and TV Guide, who I asked about the lack of HD listed programmes in the magazine.

Any response I receive from these networks and magazine will be posted as soon as possible.

Comment by old3eyes, on 13-Jul-2011 19:45

What a crock of an answer from Prime (Sky) .  Typical..  What has  a HD OB unit got to do with  Prime going HD??

Comment by Athlonite, on 13-Jul-2011 23:40

@ old3eyes  why would sky pay twice for HD content in the first place it's shown live in HD on sky but prime will have SD content which is delayed why not just use the HD content already used for the live sky broadcast for the delayed broadcast on prime

Comment by Pete, on 14-Jul-2011 00:14

Even if that was a big consideration with going HD, its a bit rich considering the only major player of OB trucks in NZ is OSB which is owned by Sky, which owns Prime...

But OSB has already invested heavily in HD trucks for netball, rugby coverage ect which well ruins their answer even further

Comment by maslink, on 14-Jul-2011 11:03

Yeah - it's a crappy argument. I'm in the US temporarily and get ~80 HD channels on Cable (excluding Premium movie channels) plus they claim over 8000 items on demand in HD ( much free of charge ). There is a huge amount of HD stuff available - lifestyle, documentary, kids TV to sports & general entertainment.

Cost of HD OB gear is irrelevant except for local content, but even the *local* Fresno area station generally shoot all their news in HD so they found the money somehow. 

I don't think anyone is expecting that all content will magically upgrade to HD overnight, but some commitment to a timetable would be nice. I can see why Sky prioritised movies & sports, but it would be great to see Discovery or National Geographic in HD - both of which are available in Aussie, so it can't be impossible to get the source in this part of the world (which seems to be the other excuse used for things like SyFy channel (also available in Aussie)).

Comment by Mark, on 14-Jul-2011 15:49

It has been obvious for a very long time that Sky own Prime simply to keep government regulators off their back in regards to free to air sports content. It is there simply so they do not have to give sporting rights to their competitors. They have absolutely no motivation to upgrade Prime to HD.

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Damien Service
New Zealand

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