• Do you plan to start broadcasting any new channels in the near future?
TVWorks (owners of TV3 and C4) are planning on broadcasting a new digital only channel by April 2009 which will be available on Freeview but at this stage they have not released any information about the content they plan to show on that channel.
We would expect other TV and radio channels to also launch in 2009 but we do not have any detail from Broadcasters on these at this time.
• Why has Freeview chosen to compete with Pay TV (ie. Sky)? Your ads contain the line "Make subscriptions a thing of the past" which in my opinion doesn't really make any sense. The way I see it Freeview is meant to replace analogue, not try and pull customers off sky. The only place where it seems relevant is where rural customers have to subscribe to sky to get any TV reception, however this is a small percentage to target at. All it seems to have done is alienated Sky more from adding Prime into the mix. Speaking of Prime, any discussions on it being added?
Why has Freeview chosen to compete with Pay TV?: Freeview is not a direct competitor - Pay TV is always going to be a premium offering. However, free-to-air (FTA) television is dependant on ad revenue and therefore needs audience share (the value of advertising is dependant on it). What this means is that the more people viewing pay TV, the smaller the audience share for FTA channels, which results in less revenue potential and therefore less money to purchase quality programming. The more revenue generated (via subscriptions) by pay TV operators, the more money they have to outbid FTA Broadcasters for first-run programmes leading to a growing subscription base. If this cycle continues FTA television will struggle to survive and we may end up with a situation where all New Zealanders have to pay to watch television.
Freeview as a replacement for analogue: Freeview exists for more than one reason. Freeview was introduced to try and preserve audience share for FTA broadcasters, to provide consumers with a choice for digital broadcasting and to support progress towards analogue switch off.
Analogue switch off will enable a reduction in broadcaster transmission costs and deliver a healthy dividend for the Government once the analogue spectrum is freed up.
“Make subscriptions a thing of the past”: At launch there were a significant number (up to 30%) of NZ households who experienced reception issues. DTH (satellite) Pay TV was the only option available to them to address these reception issues so we intended to educate consumers that there was now another digital option with no contract or subscription fees.
Discussions of Prime being added: We would welcome the addition of Prime to our growing list of television services but this is a decision for Prime’s owner - SKY Network Television. Unfortunately they have not chosen to join Freeview yet. Freeview is a digital TV and radio platform not a broadcaster therefore each broadcaster makes a choice to broadcast their signal on Freeview satellite and/or Freeview|HD and /or Sky. All free-to-air broadcasters (channels) have been invited to join Freeview.
This should not stop you owning Freeview|HD as you can still view Prime’s analogue signal via the same UHF aerial. You just switch between the Freeview|HD digital service and Prime using the TV/AV button on your TV remote.
• What about Freeview HD channels being added to sky as TV3 has arranged? Any future chance of allowing sky to use Freeview's muxes either, instead of rebroadcasting the same content at a lower quality? I know a lot of the relations with Sky heavily depend on TVNZ's views, however I imagine Freeview must have some influence.
TV3 is a Freeview|HD channel as well and these decisions are made by the individual broadcasters not Freeview. We would welcome any Sky channels onto Freeview. They would of course have to be FTA.
• What is the story with Prime? People will be reluctant to upgrade if they do not at least get all the channels previously available on analogue TV.
Please see previous answers regarding Prime on Freeview
• Why did Freeview choose H.264?
This standard offers superior picture and sound quality with less bandwidth requirements than MPEG2. The MPEG4 standard is being adopted by nearly all new digital terrestrial platforms launched since 2007.
• Is Freeview working with companies like Microsoft to pressure them in to supporting Freeview in their products? (i.e. Media Centre).
Freeview is currently working with a number of PC card receiver manufacturers to help them meet the Freeview technical broadcast specifications. Unfortunately as we are only in the initial stages, we do not yet have detailed information on these products. Of interest is that Microsoft has just received approval for MMC from Freeview UK.
• What new channels are planned and when will they start? What’s happening with Prime? Finally, when can we expect to see a Freeview approved terrestrial PVR?
New channels? TVWorks (owners of TV3 and C4) are planning on broadcasting a new digital only channel by April 2009 which will be available on Freeview but at this stage they have not released any information about the content they plan to show on that channel.
This year Broadcasters have launched five new TV and radio channels on Freeview and we look forward to further new content offerings over the next 12 months.
Prime: Please see previous answers regarding Prime on Freeview
DWT was given the opportunity to be on Freeview but chose not to. As with other broadcasters it’s their choice to be on Freeview as Freeview is a FTA, open access, digital TV and radio platform.
• When the 4th and 5th muxes come online (after analogue closedown?) will they use DVB-T2 modulation rather than DVB-T. N.B. If DVB-T2 then new set top boxes will be required.
Freeview will always endeavour to deliver the public the best possible technology available at the time. Hence we launched the Freeview|HD platform using DVB-T and MPEG4. We think it is unlikely that we would mix DVB-T & DVT2 as we do not have the spectrum scarcity issues that have driven the UK to go down that path.
The 4th and 5th Muxes could well be available before ASO but that is a question to be answered by Government.
• Was it always thought that Prime would join the current digital terrestrial Kordia mux or Prime be part of a new Sky digital terrestrial network?
Great question for Sky!! As we have said Freeview would welcome Prime on the Free to air digital network (that includes both satellite and terrestrial platforms).
• I'm really interested in an official PVR option. Particularly an HD option. Actually not for me, but for me to set up for other people (like my Mum). I'm already pretty stoked with my Mac Mini PVR, but my mum isn't going to drop $1k for a mini or know how to use it. So when can we expect to see some PVRs?
Please see answer above and http://freeviewnz.tv/myfreeview. Freeview is a great gift alternative – New Zealand’s favourite shows in digital quality as well as an 8 day on screen programme guide and a wider range of channels , with no monthly subscription ; the gift that keeps on giving!!
• Freeview currently state that they won't roll out DVB-T to more than the current 9 regions. Is this the long term plan? What if a region wants it?
Freeview would very much like to extend the coverage of the terrestrial platform but investment in that is a decision for the Government and/or the current mux holders TVNZ, Kordia and TVWorks.
• Is DVB-S ever going to support HD?
Unlikely at this time as Sky have the majority of the bandwidth on Optus D1
• Why did you not use a standard EPG format for NZ?
Freeview made a decision to use the MHEG5 open standard and not EIT schedule for the Freeview Guide. We did this because we wanted a standard look and feel on receivers on both platforms and the ability to improve the EPG as we get feedback from Freeview owners. We did leave the Satellite EIT schedule data in place because of the number of existing FTA satellite boxes (~20,000) already in people’s homes at the time we launched the Freeview satellite service.
• Are Freeview going to move Stratos and Cue to terrestrial broadcast as well? I would have thought UHF bandwidth would be much cheaper than satellite channel space.
As with all our broadcast partners it is their decision which of the Freeview platforms they broadcast on. We always want them on both but the investment to do so is their decision.
• What (if anything) are you doing to help regional broadcasters (that typically don't have a large budget) onto the DVB-T platform?
Freeview has supported FTA digital broadcasting for regional stations in all our submissions to Government. These submissions included supporting the allocation of funding for regional broadcasters. We also have a lower service fee for regional Broadcasters than for national one.
• What training and upskilling are you offering to vendors promoting 'Freeview' badged products / services? I ask this because here in Dunedin I have observed a DSE staffer suggesting to customers they need 'line of sight' to Mt Cargill. In order to be able to receive DVB-T and if they don't have this then DVB-S was the only option to them. I pointed the staff member to the Freeview site and the .pdf of predicted signal plot coverage ex Cargill which he admitted changed his view about how wide the DVB-T sigs were sent and what he would suggest to his customers in future.
Good question as this is a challenge for not only Freeview but all manufacturers of consumer technology. So in conjunction with manufacturers we participate in training road shows for retail staff and also work closely with our retail partners helping them develop their own in store training programmes for Freeview.
• I think most people want to see more channels, especially Prime. But is there any chance of adding other free-to-air channels like Triangle, Alt TV, and Juice outside of Auckland?
Agreed and as more homes take up the Freeview service the business case for the above and other Broadcasters gets better. Remember that it’s an ad revenue supported business model and this means mass viewership.
• What is Freeview's response in the Zinwell 620-HD's units breaking the GPLv2 Licence with using the Linux Kernel on their units and not supplying the source code or Licence with their Units? They are "Freeview" branded so it looks like Freeview is breaking the GPL Licence as well?
As part of the Freeview brand licensing process for manufacturers, we test products to our published functional specification. However, we do not check individual manufacturer’s intellectual property rights in their s/w. The best option is to contact Zinwell or their local distributor in New Zealand, Next Electronics.
• Is there a copy of the Freeview certification process which says what the certification actually details?
Great idea and we have put this up on our website.
• I've had zero response from any contact's I've had with Zinwell in the past (they seem to ignore their email from me regarding this) so can Freeview supply any proper contact details for Zinwell? (Like who represents them in New Zealand? who was given the Freeview certification etc)
Next Electronics – phone 0508 327478
• Will we see anymore HD channels or do we have to wait until the analogue cutoff for this too happen and just when is the analogue cut-off in NZ? 2012, next year, sometime, never?? Would be nice for an actual date.
It’s up to the Broadcasters to decide whether they will broadcast in HD or SD. The Freeview|HD platform has been built to support both formats.
ASO is determined by the Government. They have stated that it is a 3 step process:-
1 Tentative date for ASO set when digital uptake = 60% of households. Given that digital TV is already in ~55% of homes this should be sometime in 2009.
2 Actual date set when uptake = 75% of homes or 2012, whichever is first.
3 Final switch off.
• Will the racing channel Trackside be coming aboard Freeview anytime soon? The picture on Sky looks terrible on a 50" HDTV.
That is a question for NZ Racing Board. We would welcome Trackside onto the Freeview platform.
• Is there an intention to bring back Dolby Digital AC3 audio for TV1 and TV2? This was great during the games on TV1 and has been sorely missed since, when it was stripped without reason. Also, it's hard to understand why the HD Demo channel, which is surely there to captivate an audience, is using a basic AAC soundtrack only. I realise this takes some bandwidth away from the video, but I was under the impression that AC3 would be used when available.
We will follow up with TVNZ on this.
With regard to the HD demo channel, it was the intention for this channel to be used by our retail partners to demonstrate, in store, the quality of the picture that is possible on the Freeview|HD platform and they do not usually have the sound turned on hence no need for us to spend the additional money for AC3 equipment.
• Will Freeview sort out the volume difference between TVNZ and TV3? I'd prefer if all channels went the way of higher dynamic range at once! It's a dance of the volume control as you change channels currently on the DVB-T HD platform.
We will follow up with TVNZ and TVWorks on this for you.
• Something else they may want to consider as the audio stream goes towards Dolby AC3 is adding the dynamic range reduced flag as an option for late night viewing. I've never wanted it with DVDs but for TV it could be VERY useful...
Thanks. We understand your question and will follow up with the broadcasters on this.
• What efforts is Freeview making to increase the visibility of its (new channel) programme listings in the print media?
We would like more visibility too!! However, the broadcasters own the rights to these listings and they negotiate with print and online media to publish these listings. We understand from our broadcast partners that these negotiations are ongoing.
• The largest circulation newspaper in NZ (The Herald) does not carry any daily programming for TVNZ 6, 7 or Cue. And the "TV Guide' buries the listings away in a couple of square inches of newsprint so there is no space for more than just the programme name.
Please see above answer
• Quite often the station's own EPG only has a generic listing about a programme, instead of displaying some information about the actual episode - this is particularly annoying with documentaries. I and many others, undoubtedly miss interesting programmes on these channels because they are not being widely published enough.
Please see above
• Why do TV1/TV2 use progressive and TV3/C4 use interlaced?
Broadcast format is a decision for the broadcasters’ and the platform has been designed to allow a seamless transition between these formats
• Is there any plans to introduce 1080P broadcasting now that 1080P displays are more common?
It is very early days for the broadcasting in 1080p and we would expect NZ broadcasters to follow global trends in rolling this out on Freeview. Given the infrastructure cost and lack of programming in this format it is unlikely to happen soon.
• When can we expect DVB-T compatible PVRs with 7 day DVB-T EPG data and what is holding this up?
• Since Freeview is "free" (apart from the setup costs) can you give a laypersons summary of how Freeview’s Business Model works? This in itself could help us understand what to expect from this service into the medium/long term.
The Freeview business model is that we charge Broadcasters service fees to be part of the platform. Broadcasters also negotiate separate transmission agreements with a transmission company. So Freeview is first and foremost a marketing company which creates the standards for and promotes FTA digital broadcasting.
• Are there any plans for a standard definition, DVB-S PVR?
Yes there are and we are working with manufacturers to have a MyFreeview satellite service launched in Q2 2009.