30 September 2012 will mark a milestone in New Zealand television history with the switching off of the analogue TV signal in Hawke’s Bay and on the West Coast.
The first official television broadcast in New Zealand began at 7.30pm on 1 June 1960 and could only be seen only in Auckland. Programming ran for three hours and included an episode of The Adventures of Robin Hood, a live interview with a visiting British ballerina and a performance by the Howard Morrison Quartet.
A lot has changed in New Zealand TV over the past 52 years but not everything as even a TV used back in the 1960s can go digital with the right equipment says Going Digital National Manager Greg Harford.
Television was introduced to New Zealand in stages much like the move to digital 52 years later. Television was only available in Auckland in the first year of transmission, Christchurch was the second region to get TV in June 1961 followed by Wellington four weeks later and then Dunedin in July 1962.
Starting with Hawke’s Bay and the West Coast of the South Island, including St Arnaud and Murchison, New Zealand television is going digital in stages over the next 15 months.
With just days until the move to digital TV in Hawke’s Bay and the West Coast more than nine out of 10 homes in each region have gone digital. After 30 September anyone in these regions who isn’t watching Freeview or SKY won’t be able to watch TV.
Based on experiences overseas there will be a small percentage of households that won’t be digital by 30 September.
“The Going Digital information campaign that has run over the past 22 months has always been about making sure those people who want to continue watching TV know what they need to do and when and those people choosing not to go digital are making an informed choice,” said Mr Harford.
Over the past 22 months Going Digital has been running a comprehensive public information campaign in Hawke’s Bay and the West Coast to make everyone aware of the change. This has included an extensive advertising and communications campaign, mail drops, public information stands and door knocking more than 21,000 homes in the Bay.
The Going Digital campaign was launched in November 2010 to give New Zealanders plenty of time to plan for the change. And there is assistance available for those groups most likely for face technical and financial barriers in going digital,” said Mr Harford.
While Hawke’s Bay and the West Coast will be making the move to digital TV in just weeks the rest of the country will be following suit in stages. The rest of the South Island goes digital on 28 April 2013 followed by the lower North Island on 29 September 2013 and finally the upper North Island on 1 December 2013.
The move to digital gives TV viewers better quality pictures and more channels and it also frees up radio spectrum which is ideal for next-generation mobile telecommunications services. These will support our economic development by offering faster and cheaper mobile broadband services for New Zealanders.