ONE HD: SC10 & Foxtel ‘fess up
Updated: So will regional and Foxtel viewers be getting ONE next week? TV Tonight puts the hard questions to Southern Cross and Foxtel.
UPDATED: ONE may be launching next week to city viewers but regional television viewers will be waiting until mid year to see the new 24hr sports channel on Southern Cross Television.
Greg Dodgson, Chief Operating Officer for Macquarie Southern Cross Media, told TV Tonight the delay was caused by extensive changes to upgrade its facilities to 23 markets.
“We still haven’t built our infrastructure and we’re still testing to be able to carry it across all the sub-markets and towns in our broadcast footprint,” he said.
“We’re committed to carrying ONE but we’re still in a testing phase. And we’re still building to be able to put it across the 23 markets that we’re going to carry it in.
“It’s likely to be the middle of the year, which is not far away.”
So far some Southern Cross viewers are seeing high definition testing pictures.
“What you’re getting on the HD service is pretty pictures from around the country. It’s what we call a loop tape. That’s our programming that we’re putting out the moment because we’re building the infrastructure and testing to carry ONE.”
But not all regional viewers (ie. Central Australia) will wind up getting ONE because government regulation only requires the HD signal in specific markets.
“There’s not a requirement to broadcast in HD in those areas and you can appreciate the cost involved in broadcasting. We’re not going to put it any further afield then we’ve got to,” he conceded.
TV Tonight has made available maps of four key regional markets: in Queensland(Aggregate market A), Northern NSW (Aggregate market B), Southern NSW (Aggregate market C) and Victoria (Aggregate market D). Tasmania and Darwin maps were not supplied.
In tight economic times Dodgson concedes the arrival of ONE is a taxing challenge.
“The metros (TEN) have only got to put out in 5 markets. This takes my Playout Centre that I look after from 35 to 63 Channels. There’s nothing like it in the rest of Australia. It’s just substantial.”
SC 10 says when the time comes it will be promoting the start date on-air and in its regular program guides.
Meanwhile Foxtel, which no doubt views a 24 hour sports channel as direct competition, says the onus on adding extra channels is dependent on channels covering the costs of adding to satellite capacity. Each network has separate retransmission deals.
Foxtel cable viewers who have the IQ2 and currently receive TEN HD will be able to access ONE HD.
Until an extra satellite is launched later this year, satellite viewers in other cities will be kept waiting.
“Currently Foxtel cable subscribers have access to all FTA standard definition and FTA HD channels via Foxtel, including TEN SD and TEN HD,” said a Foxtel spokesperson. “Any additional channels launched by the FTA channels will be available to cable customers subject to each channel’s retransmission agreement.”
Until an agreement is reached over costs, the standard digital version of ONE will not be available to Foxtel viewers either.
“In relation to satellite Foxtel customers, Optus will be launching a new satellite later this year – providing additional capacity – and we may retransmit the additional Channel TEN channels subject to Channel TEN agreeing to cover the cost of obtaining the satellite capacity to retransmit its new channels.”
UPDATED 16 March: Greg Dodgson has qualified statements made in relation to SC10 owned markets (Aggregate Markets A, B, C, D) over markets that are shared with other companies (including Tasmania and Darwin). Contrary to earlier information there is a requirement to broadcast HD into Tasmania and Darwin, however they are not fully owned SC10 stations. This means Tasmanian and Darwin viewers WILL get ONE in HD on SC10 at the same time as other markets.
“I’m confident they’ll get them in the middle of the year like other viewers but we don’t fully own that signal,” said Dodgson.
SC10 also has no plans for its secondary digital channel.
“When we broadcast ONE HD in the middle of the year it will come out as HD. But we don’t have any plans yet with our SD2 channel.”
TV Tonight apologises for any confusion (particularly for Tassie & Darwin viewers!) in the ever-changing landscape that is digital television! Please note in order to avoid further confusion, previous comments relating to these markets will be deleted.