My name is Andrew Boyden, and I write for TV blog web site Throng –www.throng.com.au
While I agree with the idea of having more free to air TV channels and greater choice, I do not agree with the fact that, at the end of 2010, there is less HD content on free to air TV than ever before.
Nine have not simulcast the Ashes is HD on GEM.
Seven’s feed for 7mate is standard defintion only, which in effect means Seven offer ZERO HD content at this point in time even though 7mate occupies Seven’s HD stream.
There is plenty of HD sport on ONE, but nothing of common interest to the majority of Australians.
ABC News 24 takes away the abillity to watch key ABC1 shows and documentaries in HD.
SBS ONE HD remains as the only main channel simulcast in HD although there seems to be very little HD content on SBS ONE in any case (I believe Who Do You Think You Are might be made in HD but I can tell Letters and Numbers is not. Most other shows seem to be SD).
Seven, Nine and Ten have many shows available in HD which do not end up being seen in HD on free to air TV as they no longer offer HD broadcasts of their main channels. Many Ten shows that end up on Pay TV like Glee, Burn Notice and White Collar are seen in HD on Pay TV but not free to air TV. There is at least some HD content on GEM.
HD TVs are more affordable and readily available than ever before.
Web blogs, Facebook pages and forums are filled with angry viewers who have spent money on HD equipment only to find there is next to nothing to watch in HD on free to air TV these days.
The GEM Facebook page in fact is filled with more complaints about the cricket not being in HD than there are positive comments about the content the channel offers.
The changes to anti-siphoning in 2011 are a positive step forward, but nothing has been done to address the issue of the lack of HD content on free to air TV now. The rule defiining how much HD content a free to air broadcaster should offer is serverely out of date and needs to be brought back into line with the situation now.
If the issue of HD on FTA TV is not addressed, FTA stands to fall further behind other sources as being people’s primary source of HD content. There will come a point in time where viewers simply will no longer stand for it and free to air TV will decline further in numbers.
Unless the ultimate plan is for free to air TV to take a back seat in the future, in favour for internet TV (which will in fact endure massive growth this dacade, thanks mostly to the NBN), then something should be done to keep free to air TV in Australia alive. It is not just the number of channels, the quality of channels need to be maintained.
I am sure that those who have invested billions in our free to air networks would surely agree – even though it is their own decisions, based on out of date regulations, that have placed us in the position we have now where we have very little free to air HD content.
In my opinion, a 4th channel for each of the commercial networks would solve the problem.
Details, thoughts and potential rules to prevent the 4th channel being taken advantage of in the text that follows, as posted onwww.throng.com.au: