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Leap forward in television broadcasting

14 April 2008 Media Statement

Leap forward in television broadcasting

The advent of high definition television delivered by the new Freeview digital terrestrial service is a significant event in New Zealand broadcasting, Prime Minister Helen Clark said today.

Helen Clark officially launched the digital terrestrial service in Wellington tonight.

"This is cutting edge technology and high definition is still a rarity internationally. The rollout of Freeview HD puts New Zealand at the top of the list, alongside the United States, France, Japan, the United Kingdom and Australia," Helen Clark said.

"High definition, with its crystal clear pictures, is the latest desirable broadcasting feature worldwide. In terms of visual experience, the last advance this dramatic in New Zealand would have been the switch to colour television in 1974.

"New Zealand was a late starter in the process of transition to digital technology. Now we’re leapfrogging to the front of the pack. That is exactly where we want to be, reflecting our identity as a technologically advanced, creative and innovative society.

"The Labour-led Government has supported Freeview as a dual satellite/terrestrial service to ensure all New Zealanders can have access to quality free-to-air digital television no matter where they live. We provided access to radio spectrum as well as $25 million (GST excl) to Freeview over five years to help with simulcasting in both digital and analogue," Helen Clark said.

Broadcasting Minister Trevor Mallard said the government contribution, as well as the $79 million in government funding for TVNZ's digital channels, reflected the government's commitment to supporting these important developments.

Freeview’s satellite service began in May last year and more than 100,000 New Zealanders have purchased a Freeview receiver (set top box), exceeding initial projections of 30,000 for the first year of Freeview.

Trevor Mallard joined Helen Clark in congratulating Freeview and its members, state-owned Kordia, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and the Ministry of Economic Development for a positive government/industry partnership.

Background information follows

Contacts: Juli Clausen (PM’s Office) 04 471 9099 or 021 70 70 45
Astrid Smeele (press secretary to Trevor Mallard) 04 4719080 or 021 2279080.

Background information

The government will announce a firm date for analogue switch-off once take-up of digital television reaches 75 per cent or in 2012, whichever comes first.

Freeview Limited is an incorporated joint venture; its shareholders are Television New Zealand, MediaWorks (owner of TV3 and C4), the Māori Television Service and Radio New Zealand.

Freeview channels so far

Freeview’s satellite channels are: TV ONE, TV2, TV3, C4, Māori Television, TVNZ6, TVNZ7, TVNZ Sports Extra, Stratos, Parliament TV, Cue, Te Reo, Radio New Zealand National and Radio New Zealand Concert.

Freeview HD will screen: TV ONE, TV2, TV3, C4, Māori Television, TVNZ6, TVNZ7, TVNZ Sports Extra, Parliament TV, tvCentral, Radio New Zealand National and Radio New Zealand Concert.

The three most recent additions have been:

- TVNZ7 (launched 30 March), TVNZ’s advertising-free news, documentary and current affairs channel.
- Te Reo (launched 28 March), New Zealand’s first 100 per cent Māori language service.
- tvCentral, a regional service in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty (launched 2 April).


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