The Great Digital Switchover: why we’re leaving analogue TV behind, and how to make the most of it

At midnight last night, Northern Ireland switched off its old analogue television network and joined the rest of the UK in going digital.

Did you know we’re following suit? Any West Coast and Hawkes Bay residents who weren’t aware found out the hard way last month. The rest of the country has some more time, with the upper North Island being the ones to switch off the lights on 1 December 2013.

For you, dear viewer, there are positive spinoffs in switching to Freeview or Sky. You get much clearer pictures than with the ol’ rabbit ears, access to many more channels and programmes, and a user-friendly on-screen TV guide.

With MySky you can also pause, rewind and record with the press of a couple of buttons. Even better, whenever the Kiwis play league against the Aussies you can switch to Ray Warren’s masterful commentary:

Remember: that’s Setup>Audio language>English alt.

Most importantly, the analogue network will be auctioned off and used to build awesome fourth generation cell phone networks. The 4G network is between 10-100 times faster than 3G – important in a world that’s switching more and more from computers to mobiles and tablets.

The economic benefit of the switchover and move to 4G? Anywhere between $1.1-2.4 billion over 20 years, according to a study by the Ministry of Economic Development.

Going Digital is the website with all the knowledge you need and then some. With most people clued up on the basics – 83 percent of New Zealand households have at least one digital set and of those, 91% know they do – the rest of this blog will seek to answer some of those questions you may not have thought to ask.

Got more than one TV?

Going Digital releases a quarterly report into how good their missionaries are at converting the masses. The May-July 2012 edition of Digital Tracker shows that while most households have switched over their main set, 36% of households with more than one have yet to digitalise the others.

If you want digital television on every set, every set needs to have digital television. You can always connect more than one set to a single box but then, if auntie wants to watch The View, then everyone has to watch The View. Sky customers with multiple sets may want Multiroom before they wind up redefining the term ‘nuclear family’.

Yessir, just don’t hurt us.

If you’re a Freeview subscriber you can hook your TVs up to the same box; however for the same reason you’ll probably prefer a separate receiver for each TV (provided they don’t already have Freeview built in).

Can you get special assistance?

That depends on your circumstances, funnily enough. The Government has funded a Target Assistance Package for those who are:

–       75 or older with a Community Services Card;

–       Receiving a Veteran’s Pension or Invalids’ Benefit; or

–       Former recipients of those benefits who transferred to New Zealand Superannuation upon turning 65.

This assistance will provide a set-top box for one TV, installation and training in using it.

Is this going to be expensive? Not really – Digital Tracker reckons 10% of households have people aged 75 or older, and 5% have people on Invalids’ Benefits. With just 14% of the nation yet to switch, it’s estimated it’ll cost the taxpayer between $12-18 million – not a bad price to help those facing the most barriers.

If you fall into one of those categories but have already made the switch, you can’t claim backdated help under this package. Just find something fun to watch and try not to think about it.

What should you do with your old TV?

Keep it – you don’t need a new TV set to get digital television.

If, however, you are marking this momentous occasion by purchasing a 70-inch plasma, recycle the old set rather than chuck it. Televisions and computer monitors contain aluminium, glass and copper, which can all be reused. They also have not so nice things like mercury, lead and barium that have no business in our landfills.

The Government – yep, them again – established the TV TakeBack programme to provide a home for these orphaned tellies. This scheme launched in Hawkes Bay and the West Coast on 1 October. If you live in either region, recycling your set is free until the 28th (hurry!) and after that the cost “will be kept as low as possible.” The scheme will be rolled out around the rest of the country alongside the switchover.

If you can’t wait that long, contact your local council or e-waste specialists to find out where you can dispose of your TV thoughtfully.

Anything else on your mind?

Got any other questions about the digital switchover you’d like answered? Going DigitalFreeview and Sky TV are all pretty thorough.

Or you can ask us in the comments below or on our Facebook page, as your humble blogger has learned almost all there is to know about this topic. We also know a thing or two about real estate photography. So go on, try and trip us up.

7 thoughts on “The Great Digital Switchover: why we’re leaving analogue TV behind, and how to make the most of it

    • Hi Pat, what channels you get on Sky depends on how much you want to pay. Every package comes with the ‘basic’ channels (One, Two, 3, Four, Prime, UK TV, Comedy Central, the kids’ channels and heaps more) and then if you want the movies, sports, and other ‘premium’ channels you pay a bit more.

      With Freeview you get whatever they give you – all the basic channels plus others – so they have more control there. However they’re very likely to add more channels rather than take any away. Hope that helps!

  1. it certainly doesnt work well with the crappy weather we have so have the time we miss all the good bits on tv becuse no signal how do u fix that the old tv’s didnt do that fuzzy but still could see were as digital u get nothin

    • Hi Jan, you’re not wrong! It gets very frustrating trying to watch a rugby game only to lose reception to the weather. Not sure what to do about that to be honest. Best to keep telling yourself that the positives – crystal clear pictures 99% of the time – outweigh the negatives of the occasional (yet, indeed, frustrating) outage. Thanks for your comment 🙂

  2. Rugby World Cup packages to tour with other spectators and players to take part in the ultimate festival of rugby will appeal to followers of the game. Every four years the World Cup tournament comes around. This is like a climax that aficionados will patiently wait for. It builds up over years, months, weeks, days, and hours until the moment of the finals kick-off. Many people will save assiduously for years o be part of a tour.A party of rugby followers is likely to be a diverse group. The game knows no social, physical or psychological barriers. Quick small people have become legends of the game. Giants, both tall and wide, are central to the scrum and normal men are needed on the flanks. It is known as the gentlemen’s game for hooligans and both types are likely to be represented in any game.^

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