Digital television in New Zealand

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New Zealand completed the transition from analogue to digital television on 1 December 2013.

Initial consultations with industry and decisions by Government in 2005 and 2006 led to a hybrid platform of terrestrial and satellite services being adopted.

A free-to-air satellite service commenced in 2007, and terrestrial services covering 75% of the population commenced in early 2008. Licences were provided for 3 transmitters at each site, and the terrestrial coverage was extended to 86.5% of the population in 2011/12.

See the Freeview website(external link) for coverage information.

How the switchover was managed

A series of policy decisions in 2008, 2009 and 2011 established the overall digital switchover process.

These included:

  • policies for conversion of analogue licences to digital licences
  • support for regional broadcasters
  • a targeted assistance programme for viewers, and
  • a series of stages to switch off of analogue transmissions.

These policies have now been fully implemented by either Radio Spectrum Management (RSM) or the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

Digital terrestrial services were placed in the UHF frequency band, and operated in parallel with existing analogue services, which used both VHF and UHF bands. The initial digital UHF frequencies were changed (restacked) in 2012 to ensure efficient long-term use, and to free up spectrum in the 700 MHz range for allocation to new uses. These changes meant that some viewers had to retune their televisions or set-top boxes.

See Cellular management rights in the 700 MHz band (Auction 12) for more information.

Current digital television frequencies

For the current state of digital television frequencies, see the Digital Television Channel Usage Table [PDF, 46 KB].

Impact on radio microphone operating frequencies

The introduction of digital television and the reallocation of the 700 MHz band for 4G mobile broadband meant that radio microphones had to switch to the alternative frequencies 502-606 MHz and 622-698 MHz.

In these frequency ranges, radio microphone users are a secondary user in the spectrum, so have to work around the primary user (digital television) by making use of unused channels and spaces in the spectrum.

Radio microphones are licensed under a General User Spectrum Licence.

Radio microphone devices

For more information about the consultation that led to these decisions, see the Radiomicrophones consultation.