From Thursday, 5 October, Tasmanian viewers will more easily be able to watch their local news, entertainment and drama programming and live and free sport all in high-definition as the local TV networks re-order their channel lineup.
Free TV CEO Bridget Fair said: “As part of our ongoing efforts to meet the needs of our audience, we are making the highest-quality versions of our services easier for Tasmanians to find. From October, viewers will be taken directly to the high-definition, rather than the standard-definition, versions of the services.
“No one should lose access to the TV services. In fact, the only change most people will notice is that their free local TV services now look and sound even better.
“The changes are part of ongoing upgrades to local TV transmissions, which have already seen a range of secondary channels (such as 7mate, 9GEM, 10Bold and SBS WorldWatch) move to the more efficient, MPEG-4 digital technology,” Ms Fair said.
Most viewers will not notice any change, which will affect ABC, SBS, 7 Tas, WIN and 10 Tas main channel. However, a small number of viewers with old TVs might need to go to a different channel number to keep watching their free local TV services. This is because some older sets might not be able to properly display MPEG-4 high-definition channels.
Ms Fair continued: “These upgrades are intended to improve picture quality and choice of TV services, including a wider range of channels offering the high-definition picture quality that more and more viewers expect.
“Viewers whose old TV sets are not ready for MPEG-4 are already missing out on some channels and high-definition pictures, which are all available for free,” said Ms Fair.
Ensuring Continued Access
Free-to-air TV provides an essential service to all Australians, so Tasmania’s TV networks are taking steps to help any viewers confused by the changes on 5 October or who need any help to regain access to network TV.
Beginning in September, community service announcements on all affected channels will publicise the change. There’s a website and an online video so viewers can check if they are affected and, if so, what they can do about it.
“From early September through to the end of October we have also set up call centre support with a free-call number, 1800 489 755, to troubleshoot any problems viewers might encounter,” said Ms Fair.
Background to these changes
For most viewers, the change in channel number will not have any impact. However, viewers can check now to see if they will be impacted. If viewers can already receive the full range of multichannel TV services available in Tasmania, such as 7mate, 9Gem, 10Bold and SBS WorldWatch. If your set is able to display any of these today, it’s unlikely you’ll notice any change on 5 October.
If, however, viewers get a black screen for these services, or an error message, they will need to use the two-digit channel numbers to find the primary TV services after 5 October. The new channel numbers are:
Getting the best from free-to-air TV
Viewers who need to use the new channel numbers to continue watching the services in Standard Definition might like to know, that they are missing out on the highest quality pictures and the full range of additional channels.
For those who might already be considering updating their TV, investing in a new TV is the simplest way to access the full range of high-definition programming and multi-channels available in Tasmania.
For those who wish to retain their current TVs, set-top boxes offer a much cheaper solution. These devices, obtainable from electronics stores at an affordable price point, should ensure future access to the full free-to-air TV offering while using an old TV receiver.
For the time being, the Standard Definition versions of all five primary channels will continue to be available to all viewers, as the TV networks have no current plans to convert these services to MPEG-4.
It is hoped the Tasmanian channel changes will furnish valuable information to TV broadcasters about the extent of any continuing reliance on much older TV sets, as the industry looks for ways to improve the free-to-air TV offering in future.
For further information and updates, please visit freetv.com.au
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