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Trevor Mallard

29 November, 2007

Process for analogue switch-off to digital TV

Broadcasting Minister Trevor Mallard today outlined the process for managing New Zealand’s complete switch from analogue to digital television.

"The switch-off is still some years away but Cabinet has signed off on the transition process to make sure good planning is in place. At the moment about 45 per cent of households receive digital television and a final date for analogue switch off will be set once that figure has reached 75 per cent of television households or in 2012 - whichever occurs first,'' Trevor Mallard said.

"A steering group made up of industry and government representatives will be formed to manage the transition, ensure there is good public information, and address issues of consumer interest before the final switch-off.

"We want time to gauge viewer interest and see how quickly New Zealanders voluntarily take up digital television before we set a firm date to switch off analogue signals. We expect the full transition period to take between six and ten years.

"Analogue switch-off is likely to occur throughout New Zealand on a region-by-region basis, within a one-year timeframe. There will also be a trial switch-off in a selected region to test consumer and industry responses.

Trevor Mallard says the shift to digital television will produce an estimated overall net benefit of around $230 million to New Zealand, assuming analogue switch-off is achieved by 2015.

"Benefits include cost savings of around $123 million because less energy is required for digital transmission. Viewers will get better reception, an electronic programme guide and more content to choose from. In the six months since Freeview launched, there are already three new digital services in addition to digital versions of existing national channels."

Freeview, a consortium of New Zealand’s free-to-air broadcasters including TVNZ, MediaWorks and Maori TV, delivers free digital television via a set-top box.

The Cabinet paper outlining the switch off process is at www.mch.govt.nz

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