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Digital television discussion document

21 December 2001 Media Statement

Digital television discussion document

The government is inviting public input into the development of policy on digital television.

Broadcasting Minister, Marian Hobbs, has released a public discussion document that considers what role the government might have in facilitating digital television in New Zealand.

"Transmitting television to the home with digital technology is occurring in several countries including New Zealand," Marian Hobbs said. "We should now address when and how digital transmissions are introduced more widely including for free to air services."

Digital television can be transmitted by satellite, cable, or terrestrial means. It has the potential to offer better reception quality, increased programme capacity and new features such as programme guides, multi-view camera angles, and interactivity. There is also the possibility of increased convergence with the Internet. In the short to medium term there will be added cost for broadcasters and for viewers who choose to receive digital transmissions, but these are expected to decrease over time.

The widespread use of digital technology for free to air services raises questions about technology choice, spectrum allocation, reception in the home and set top boxes, geographical coverage of television broadcasts, and "switch off" of analogue services. There are also implications for public broadcasters from audience fragmentation and, for viewers, the availability of publicly funded programming.

"My concern is that all New Zealanders have access to the choice and opportunities that digital can offer," Marian Hobbs said. "New Zealand needs a wide public debate on the issues and the discussion document is designed to stimulate this.

"Submissions from the public and industry will enable the government to make better informed decisions. It is important that policy decisions are consistent with the government's objectives for broadcasting, knowledge economy initiatives and the wider regulatory environment."

The closing date for submissions is April 15, 2002.

The discussion document is available on the Minister of Broadcasting's website:
http://www.executive.govt.nz/minister/hobbs/index.html

And also at: http://www.med govt.nz/pbt/broadcas/digitaltv/index.html

or in printed form from:
Ministry of Economic Development
PO BOX 1473
WELLINGTON
(Attn. Radio Spectrum and Broadcasting Policy Group)

ENDS

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