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Government says 'yes' to a digital future for NZ

MEDIA RELEASE EMBARGOED UNTIL 1PM, THURSDAY 15 JUNE 2006

Government says ‘yes’ to a digital future for New Zealand

THL Group’s chief executive Geoff Hunt is delighted that the government has given the green light to a free-to-air digital future for New Zealand.

THL is the parent company of Broadcast Communications Ltd (BCL).

The proposal, put forward by the FreeView Group (made up of Television New Zealand, Maori Television Service, Radio New Zealand, the New Zealand Racing Board (TAB) and CanWest), was ratified by the Government today, and means that, at launch, viewers in the main centres (around 75% of the population) will have access to high-definition picture and sound quality, as well as content-rich programming via a terrestrial network.

A satellite service will also enable access to the broadcasters’ services for those living outside the terrestrial coverage areas.*
The free-to-air digital terrestrial television equipment will be incorporated into BCL’s existing analogue television infrastructure nationwide. Design by the BCL engineering team is already well-advanced.

“We have been working collaboratively with key government agencies and the FreeView Group for over a year to get this far. This decision means that we are now in a position to formalise commercial negotiations with the broadcasters to commence construction on the transmission sites,” says Geoff Hunt.

Digital terrestrial television (DTT) will provide the lowest-cost digital television option for end-users, who will be able re-use their existing television sets and UHF antenna, with the addition of a digital set-top box.

“For a small up-front investment, viewers will soon have access to free-to-air, quality programming, interactive TV guides, wide-screen format and multi-camera viewing,” says Hunt.

“As a company, we are pleased with the government’s decision to go ahead with DTT, but we are also excited about the technological and lifestyle leap this represents for New Zealand,” he says.

ENDS

*Note to Editor: BCL, TVWorks and TVNZ last month reached agreement to negotiate a full transponder on the Optus D1 satellite, which will enable the provision of free to air satellite delivered digital television services later this year. The satellite platform will provide a core set of programmes to those outside the DTT coverage footprint.


MEDIA RELEASE

About THL Group

THL Group is one of the region’s leading providers of customised broadcast, telecommunications and IT networks and network services.

Until the end of 2003, BCL and THL Australia (formerly TVNZ Australia) were part of TVNZ’s transmission division. The Television New Zealand Act 2003, passed in February 2003, provided for Television New Zealand to be split into a crown entity (TVNZ), conducting a television business and a new state-owned enterprise (THL), operating a transmission business. In July 2005 the THL Group acquired AAPCS as a subsidiary of THL Australia from Australian Associated Press. The acquisition of AAPCS has served to expand the THL Group further into the telecommunications and IT space across both Australia and New Zealand.

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