16 Sep 2010

Government unveils plans for digital TV switchover

7:31 pm on 16 September 2010

Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman says people should not rely on the Government to fund their transition to digital television.

The Government on Thursday announced that New Zealand will complete the switchover to digital television from the old analogue network by November 2013.

It says the digital service will mean enhanced reception, more channels and will give people the ability to receive high definition television and potentially 3D TV.

People with older style TV sets will require a digital decoder. The West Coast and Hawke's Bay will be the first areas to be switched over.

Seventy per cent of households already receive a digital television signal through Freeview, Sky or Testra Clear.

Dr Coleman says the Government will announce a financial assistance package for those who are struggling to make the transition later next year. However, he says the threshold for that assistance will be high.

"We're certainly not going to be leaving needy people without television signal but ... we see that as being a relatively small group of people right across the country.

"People shouldn't think if they sit back and do nothing - if they do genuinely have the means to get into digital television - that the Government's going to automatically come to the rescue."

A $16 million education campaign about making the transition to digital TV will begin later this year.