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New Free To Air Digital TV Channels Coming to Australia…

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Over the past few weeks in Australia – 3 of the 5 FTA networks have announced that they will be making new Digital (DVB-T) channels available to viewers (via their additional dvb-t channels) – which will offer original/unique content to what they offer on their primary channel.

In the past – FTA networks were only only allowed to use their additional HD/SD channels to show the same content (and if on the HD channel – generally upconverted from SD or worse) – or for showing a basic  information service (ie. EPG Channel or Sports Scoreboard). The restrictions around what FTA channels could do were lifted a couple of months ago I tihnk – /or/ are to be lifted soon (which have been in place since 2000 to protect the paytv industry).

The exception to this rule was the two government owned stations ABC + SBS which were allowed to use it to show content which catered for various minorities (SBS News shows news broadcasts from about 30 non english speaking countries – but doesn’t have any english subtitles) – and ABC used it to show some additional screenings of existing content (at different times).

So thanks to changes in the laws/restrictions + the increase in LCD/Plasma Widescreen/Digital uptake by the Australian public (it’s gone pretty ballistic over last 12-18 months – and you can get STB’s as low as AUD$35 in places like supermarkets) – things are going to get a lot better for Australian viewers.

The details on what will be on these new channels is still a little shakey – with the following details emerging so far :

. The new TEN HD channel (not sure if it will replace or compliment their existing HD channel) – will be offering at least 50 hours a week of unique 1080i programming (and promises to be shows not screening on the SD channel). Apart from the focus on 1080i HD content – they have indicated this additional shows will include things like live sports, shows and movies etc (not timeshifted) – and ‘theme’ marathons (ie. "SciFi Saturday" was one that was mentioned).

In TEN HD’s press release (which has some more information) – they have claimed that it’s the ‘first brand new channel in over 40 years for Australian TV‘.  The service is due to start in December.

Seven "Multichannel" HD. Similarly to what TEN HD are doing – Seven plan to offer some unique content via their HD channel. They haven’t yet announced any specifics yet of what/how much content will be shown (and the press release sortof indicates there may be more than one HD channel?). This one is also due in a similar timeframe to TEN HD. (sometime in December).  Seven also recently announced plans to introduce TIVO to Australia so part of this new offering may be tied in with that.


ABC 3. This one isn’t HD (AFIK) – but will be a channel setup specially for kids content (i guess an evolution of the ‘ABC Kids’ content shown on paytv and during the day on ABC2).  Hopefully this will mean that schedules/timeslots on ABC2 + ABC will be freed up to get used for ‘non kids’ content.  This channel also ties in with the election campaign (being announced/promoted by the PM) – so it’s possible it could disappear just as quickly as it appeared.


Hopefully there will be some more interactive/datacasting style services on offer soon too!


Written by mobilewares

September 26, 2007 at 2:05 am

Posted in Vista MediaCenter

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