First there was TV4ME which first aired in Prime’s regional TV markets on channel 64, then there was Seven with TV4ME on channel 74, then came Nine’s EXTRA on channel 94 (regional 84), then the WIN network jumped on board as well – now TEN are set to launch a so called “data casting” channel on channel 14.
TEN have teamed up with The Home Shopping Channel TVSN to air the channel on digital channel 14. TVSN has aired on Foxtel since the mid 1990′s. It is not known at time of writing whether regional affiliate Southern Cross Ten will also carry the service (which presumably would air on channel 54).
The new channel will launch on September 24 and will mean that Seven, Nine and Ten all four channels and all have datacast channels essentially made up of paid programming.
Now I know the networks make money out of these channels, but the question has to be asked – if they can broadcast four channels, one of them being HD, and three of them being SD, why can’t they broadcast their existing three channels in SD and then air the main channel in HD as well?
The current arrangement where the HD channels are GEM, 7mate and ONE means premium main channel content cannot be seen in HD in favour of secondary and much lower rating digital channel programming. Then there is the fact that on any given night, these HD channels may not actually show any content that is made in HD. Such a waste.
The situation is not likely to change until analogue is switched off everywhere.
2014 will be very interesting in terms of how the networks manage their digital channels. Nine for example have already indicated that the NRL will be seen in HD on the Nine network in Sydney and Brisbane in 2014. Currently, the coverage is made in HD, but airs on Nine which is SD. You can see a replay on Fox Sports in HD, but not see it live in HD.
When ABC launched ABC News 24, the public broadcaster acknowledged the issue of not being able to air any main channel content in HD and said the situation would change come 2014.
Meanwhile, 7mate and GEM are about to reach their second anniversaries.