Freeview to drive digital take-up

Australia’s free-to-air commercial television networks together with the nation’s public broadcasters today formally announced the establishment of Freeview.

The consortium has been formed to help drive take-up of the free-to-air digital television platform in Australia.

Freeview shareholders include the ABC, SBS, the Seven Network, the Nine Network, Network Ten, Prime, WIN and Southern Cross. The ABC’s Director of Television, Kim Dalton, will Chair the not-for-profit organisation.

Mr Kim Dalton says Freeview will work to ensure all Australians continue to enjoy the great range of programming offered by free-to-air broadcasters as the nation transitions from the analogue to the digital platform.

“This is an extraordinary step forward for the free-to-air broadcasters. Together we have pioneered digital television in Australia, investing millions in infrastructure and converting our equipment and studios accordingly. Now it’s time for Australians to reap the rewards; Freeview will offer viewers more channels, great content and the very best quality picture and sound,” Mr Dalton said.

From next year, Government legislation will allow the commercial free-to-air networks to broadcast an additional standard definition (SD) channel each, in addition to their primary SD channels, and their recently added high definition (HD) channels. The three new channels, together with the two ABC and two SBS channels and their respective HD channels, will bring to 15 the suite of channels to be marketed under the Freeview umbrella.

To receive all the Freeview channels, consumers will need an HD digital-set-top box, digital video recorder or an integrated digital television.

Freeview will be launching an awareness campaign in the coming months to ensure consumers are ready for when the full suite of 15 Freeview channels are available next year.

Ahead of the launch, Freeview is working with manufacturers to ensure appropriate technical standards are met on all television or digital set-top-box equipment that will carry the Freeview badge.

Freeview will work closely with all relevant areas of Government to ensure consistent messaging.

[release from ABC TV]