Viewers in the bush kept waiting for 9HD as WIN cites “short notice”

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EXCLUSIVE: A number of viewers have been asking about WIN’s plans for the primary channel to switch to High Definition.

TV Tonight can reveal WIN TV CEO Andrew Lancaster has issued a memo to staff earlier this week:

As you will be aware Nine are planning to air their main channel in HD and to launch a new channel by the end of this week.

Due to the short notice given, WIN Network will not be launching these channels at the same time as Nine.

From a broadcast engineering perspective, WIN is a more complex business with a great deal more markets across a larger geographic area and as such the addition of any new channels will take time and substantial capital investment. We are moving to have the capacity to run new channels across our network with our main channel being aired in High Definition our priority.

As we get closer to a launch date for WIN’s HD channel we will update you.

47 Comments:

  1. “From a broadcast engineering perspective, WIN is a more complex business with a great deal more markets” What a load of rubbish. They basically repeat the same info – & I assume local content could be scaled from SD to HD with existing software/hardware at the flick of a switch? If they have the gear for HD, then they can solve it, regardless of technology or bandwidth. If it’s so complicated I’ll take the job & fix it tomorrow. We can’t teach experience!

  2. Nine have had HD infrastructure in place for over 10 years in the broadcast chain. For WIN to carry on like this is unprofessional and are selling their viewers short…

  3. With half of these comments having no idea on how free to air work in this country (its free to air – dont like it dont watch it… and pay for your TV via streaming or Foxtel then you can complain as much as you want)… Alot of people think its so easy to just change things… its not… and I havent seen Sth X or Prime jump up and say we’ll do it next week! (they will when they are ready to) the short answer is that its a massive job it took Ch9 12 months to do it and they have no where near the same amount of area to cover… and to the guy saying WIN had 15 years to ready itself…. OMG! – I really like TV Tonight i enjoy Davids articles, and i know people have a right to complain or have an opinion… but some of these comments are just plain stupid… Rant over.. ( i use to work for WIN, I don’t anymore)

    • And of course there would not be this issue of “WIN has around 30 regional markets to cover” if all of the regional stations they bought and then gutted were still locally owned & operated.

    • Because Nine has 6 metropolitan areas to cover and WIN has around 30 regional markets to cover, NBN has 6, Imparja has 2 and Southern Cross Nine has 2. That’s around 40 HD feeds the regional Nine affiliates need to sort out, as well as 9Life and moving Gem to SD. Not as easy as it seems and with 1 months notice you can understand why we’re not seeing them just yet.

    • Nine, in their wisdom, have added an extra channel to simulcast 9HD in SD for people who don’t have an HD capability or their kit cannot decode MP4.

      As a bonus for the network, I understand that some PVR’s are unable to fast forward MP4 coded programs.

    • Because NineHD is MPEG-4 whereas GemHD was MPEG-2.

      Did it occur to you that they needed to pull a (new) rabbit out of the hat to fit all the new channels into the same amount of data?

  4. I am an hour from Melbourne and we can’t even get decent Television.. At least once a week Prime or Win will be fuzzy, have no sound, or images, and that’s living in the middle of Ballarat.

    Time for Regional TV viewers to stand up and demand we get decent television. It can’t be rocket science.
    I am waiting and waiting for the NBN so patiently to finally be able to throw my television out. Hopefully Mid 2016 they say!

  5. This may be over simplifying things as I don’t pretend to fully understand the technical side of this, but is there any reason WIN can’t swap their WIN SD with their Gem HD re-broadcast so that regional viewers can get at least a HD primary channel – and do a SD simulcast on one of their GOLD channels (do they really need 2)? Also is 9 still providing a HD feed for Gem or are we now just getting upscaled SD? I understand that WIN would have a challenge upgrading their thousand or so transmitters to broadcast HD in MPEG4, and along with the potential 9/SCA – WIN/10 affiliation changes I can see why WIN would be hesitant to make the change, but living in a capital city (Hobart) – which although classed as regional – we are yet again subject to a second rate service.

    • Yes, there is a technical limitation preventing WIN from doing just that. WIN produces around 30 WIN SD channels for their broadcast markets. But they don’t produce as many Gem HD or Go! channels. So, in many cases, a single Gem channel can cover multiple regions and contain less localised advertising. In other words, there aren’t enough Gem’s to simply swap to WIN HD’s.

      • So local content can’t be changed to HD from WIN ‘cos of 30 WIN SD stations? I think you are confusing local areas vs (30) overall stations nationwide? How are they technically limited in each local broadcast area with the same bandwidth as their metropolitan neighbors? It’s not a case of technology – the regional broadcasters simply fell asleep & don’t have the right person on the job!

        • It’s not about bandwidth at all. All of WIN’s transmitter sites are perfectly capable of receiving and transmitting WIN HD and 9Life right now. It’s all about where the channels originate and the kind of equipment they’re being switched on. They’re clearly not HD and it’s not a simple matter of switching Gem HD to WIN HD for all their markets, because Gem HD is shared across more than one market in a lot of cases. I’m not batting for WIN or making excuses for them. They should have known years ago when they opened MediaHub that everything will eventually be HD again. But there’s no harm in identifying the problems they face in getting WIN HD on the air. Problems they could have avoided.

          • Smacca, “All of WIN’s transmitter sites are perfectly capable of receiving and transmitting WIN HD and 9Life right now”: No that’s simply not true. NineHD is in MPEG-4 and simply wouldn’t fit in the VHF 8 channel (7MHz bandwidth gives 23.1 megabits) along with GEM SD, GO, NineSD and one Extra channel.

            Swapping GemHD for WinHD would have kicked off all the people who can’t view GemHD currently because it’s HD (there are still a percent or two that can’t pick it up thanks to some short-sighted and/or untruthful political lobbying 17 years ago). That one or two percent matter a lot in ratings terms, or you could easily convert it to 1% or 2% of advertising revenue if you like? That’s real dollars you’re cutting off.

            However, the point of the reforms 9 years ago was to promote new channels like GEM and ONE and 7mate and News24 that would encourage people to buy HD…

    • I don’t mean to be complicated but each tv broadcaster has a limited frequency range to use for digital TV. The number of channels available for each broadcaster may depend on the content definition & the latest technology. Win should be able to replicate Ch9 100% including local content with existing hardware & software? C’mon WIN – what about our Cricket Season? Due to short notice – really – don’t you have a job to know about these things -cmon wake up…..

      • How is it actually possible for Nine to launch a new channel and their regional affiliate “should be able to replicate Ch9 100% including local content with existing hardware & software” ?? They actually need hardware to replicate a channel that never existed prior to November in 9Life’s case. Fair enough they have some HD hardware for their existing Gem HD services, but not enough to convert all WIN’s to HD (and then convert all the old Gem’s to SD too). It’s a pretty simple and obvious problem which you’re making out to be non existent.

      • Even if the nine network owns WIN, regional areas would still be waiting for the new channels anyway. At the time when GO was launched nine Darwin didn’t air GO and didn’t arrive until 15 months later. It was owned by nine. I was living in Darwin at the time but now reside in the southeast surburbs of Sydney. And noting some posts even when HD comes, there’s no sure thing every TV will be able to air it.

    • JoelyD, great question. But the answer is rather simple: Some viewers can’t view HD whether it’s MPEG-2 or MPEG-4, because of some short-sighted lobbying in the late ’90s from News Corp, the ABC and Alex Encel. This resulted in a few viewers owning SD-only decoders.

      For this reason alone, Nine have to continue broadcasting SD MPEG-2 and can’t simply use the combined bitrate of their new simulcast to provide HD MPEG-2 that everyone could view (‘everyone’ who used to be able to see GEM HD, I mean).

      • It’s to do with ownership really. Perth and Adelaide used to be in the same boat until quite recently, so you would have seen them up in arms about the same thing if it wasn’t for the recent purchase by Nine of those two cities.

  6. Thankyou for this story David. WIN are the worst at PR for their viewers. They have no facebook page, their twitter feed only consists of upcoming shows. How exactly are the going to update their viewers? The only way it seems you can contact them is by phone or a letter. I dont believe that they only heard that 9 were going HD recently. Theyre full of crap. They could at least in the meantime to broadcast the cricket in HD on GEM. The boycott of WIN continues. The picture is illegible

  7. Nine will again raise affiliation fees in the new deal, while streaming passed WIN. WIN would be investing large sums of money for something that will bring in no extra revenue. WIN doesn’t have to do HD if they don’t want to.

    Nine can reach 5m people in Sydney with 3 or 4 transmitters have spent 15 building up HD capacity so for them it was just a simple matter of switching a few things around.

  8. spectrum warrior

    I’ve seen Canberra GEM having pop ups advertising the new Channel 9 service. I guess that’s what is called false advertising. I would normally contact ACMA , but let’s face it, I might as well tell my next door neighbor. Tax dollars at their best !

  9. I think as someone pointed out elsewhere, the fact that the ongoing affiliate deal between 9 and WIN is still up in the air, and that Nine have been in merger talks with SCA (talks which have excluded WIN) is probably the main reason why they haven’t done anything. The relationship between 9 and WIN hasn’t exactly been harmonious for the best part of a decade now…

  10. While I can see Nine isnt obligated to tell its affiliates what their plans are, you would think its the courteous thing to do to keep them ‘in the loop’.
    I would like to know just how the TV system is organised. Years ago the Regionals banded together to buy programs for screening on their respective stations, but what happens now that most are little more than Translators and take what is delivered to them because if they pay any sort of fee to the Metro channel then they should be appraised of any changes and added channels if they have to do any adjustments to their equipment.

    • I live in Sydney but can pick up WIN from Woolongong. So at the moment I have 9 & GEM in HD. Not complaining. But I understand how frustrating for regional viewers.
      Think it’s a bit wrong for WIN to blame 9. They could easily take on the Main WIN Channel in HD and offer Life after a restack of their channels at a later date. Unless they don’t have the infrastructure in their studios for HD.

  11. And once again the regional viewers are dealt the short stick. Worst part about this one though is that – if what WIN are saying is in fact an accurate depiction of what occurred – it is solely Nine’s fault. If they had looped in their regional affiliates earlier so that it could have occurred nationally then we wouldn’t be in this situation where about 40% of the country (yes roughly 40% of the country live outside of the top 5 cities) are missing out – that’s about 10 million viewers. But then you have the argument that well what if the government abolished the reach rule then would we be in this mess given there would be no one for the blame to be passed onto. Unfortunately though I think it would have just meant we wouldn’t get a primary channel in HD till 2020 cause the networks don’t want to spend that much money – it’s easier to split the expenditure with the affiliates and…

  12. Port Douglas to Port Arthur, all of WA, and most places in between. A huge task. Seems Nine even cut their Nine-owned NBN Newcastle out of the loop, NBN citing “short notice” also.

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