Stratos Television will start broadcasting free-to-air throughout New Zealand on Freeview’s digital terrestrial television (DTT) platform from March 1, 2011.
For viewers it means they will have access to the independent broadcaster’s smorgasbord of national and international programmes without needing to have a satellite dish. They will still need a Freeview digital receiver, but newer model TVs already have that built in.
Founder and chief executive of Stratos Jim Blackman says the move might be seen as brave for a company that gets virtually nothing from the government pots that dish out funding to other broadcasters.
“But we have been in business for more than 12 years and our audience share has grown to a point that we know we have close to one million people watching on a regular basis,” he says. “The time is right and we have access to international programmes that show New Zealanders a real alternative window on the world that our competitors don’t.
“If you look at our society today, New Zealand is not made up solely of English or American leaning culture. We have a real diversity of people and their cultures. One of my friends has 132 different nationalities at his school. That’s the real NZ. People deserve to see themselves and people like them on television every day. It also means we help build an understanding of our friends and neighbours – people who live in the same towns, even the same street as us and whose children go to school together.
“Advertisers, including the Government, should carefully consider where they are spending their and taxpayers’ money. Do they really reach key audiences?”
Stratos, which has been screening on DHT (satellite services) for the past three years, can already be seen throughout the country via Freeview and Sky Digital. For viewers that has meant having a satellite dish and receiver.
DTT is broadcast across the country from point-to-point via broadcast towers and can be picked up by 80% of homes through domestic antennas.
Mr Blackman says the move is being made ahead of the country’s progressive switch off of analogue transmission from 2012 – 2013.
Mr Blackman says Stratos will accept local programming that meets with its standards for suitability, content, quality and where it fits programming schedules.
Nearly 40 programme makers who supply Triangle, Auckland’s local TV station and sister channel to Stratos, have been told Triangle will continue broadcasting on its UHF frequencies until digital switch on.
Triangle Auckland is on UHF Channels 41, 42 and 52. Triangle’s sister channel, Stratos Television, currently broadcasts nationwide via Sky Digital (Channel 89), Freeview (Channel 21) and TelstraClear cable and in Christchurch and Wellington on TelstraClear cable (Channel 50).