Network Ten has announced that it will be launching a high definition simulcast of its main Ten channel on Wednesday 2 March.
The announcement, which relates to Ten’s signal in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, follows the Nine Network‘s move to simulcast its main channel in high definition back in November — with ABC set to follow later this year and speculation that Seven will too.
And, like Nine has done with Gem, Ten will revert its secondary channel One to standard definition.
Ten HD will also follow 9HD‘s lead and broadcast via the more efficient MPEG4 format, but this is something that will limit access to viewers who have sets dating not much further back than 2009.
All credit to Ten and the other networks for finally reacting to audience sentiment for access to the primary channel, and hence their premium content, to be in high definition — but there is some serious spin in the network’s message.
Ten’s press release is breathless in its excitement: “For the first time, viewers will be able to enjoy Ten programs in stunning HD”.
Ten seems to have forgotten that it — like all networks — broadcast a simulcast of their primary channel in high definition back in the last decade. Some programs were simulcast in High Definition as early as 2001.
It was in 2009 that Ten was the first of the networks to ditch the HD simulcast of its main channel in favour of a separate channel, One HD. It gave viewers an extra channel but came at the expense of High Definition programming from its main channel. Eventually, Nine, Seven and ABC all followed suit, replacing their HD simulcasts with separately programmed HD channels: Gem, 7mate and ABC News 24. Only SBS has continued to broadcast its primary channel in both standard and high definition formats.
In effect, Ten is now only going back to what it was delivering to viewers before 2009, but is tripping over itself in its enthusiasm to “redefine how audiences watch their favourite shows” and “transform the audience experience, providing a crystal-clear picture and sharp, stunning images”, like they’re doing something as modern as tomorrow.
Plus, there’s some undue credit given the current federal government where “changes to legislation have allowed us to bring all the excitement of HD to Ten for the first time.” This is misleading at best. It is true that some legislative change was made last year — but that was to give the networks the option to convert their primary channels exclusively to High Definition broadcast and not be forced into a standard definition simulcast as previously obliged in legislation.
What Ten (and Nine) is doing now is nothing that it hasn’t been allowed to do for the last decade or so — in fact, SBS has been doing the same thing all along. The only real difference now is that MPEG4 technology allows more channels to be squeezed in to the limited bandwidth the networks have available — but that is a technical improvement, not a legislated one. And there is so far no indication from any network, Ten or otherwise, that they intend to follow the new legislation and ditch their standard definition broadcast of their primary channel. To do so would risk shutting off the undetermined but believed to be still significant share of viewers who do not have high definition tuners. And no broadcaster, commercial or otherwise, would be game to do that just yet.
Viewers will no doubt love the change to increase access to High Definition programming, but don’t spin the message to be something it isn’t.
The full press release follows:
Network Ten will redefine how audiences watch their favourite shows on TEN when it launches Channel 13, a free-to-air high definition (HD) simulcast of its primary channel, at 3pm AEDT on Wednesday 2 March.
Using the very latest in HD technology, TEN HD on Channel 13 will broadcast TEN’s premium sporting events in vivid detail, starting with the eagerly anticipated first leg of the 2016 V8 Supercars calendar – the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide – from Friday 4 March to Sunday 6 March and the 2016 Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne from Friday 18 March to Sunday 20 March.
For the first time, viewers will be able to enjoy TEN programs in stunning HD, including I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!, Family Feud, The Project, The Living Room, NCIS and Modern Family.
TEN HD on Channel 13 will also simulcast the brand new content coming to TEN over the next few months, including Long Lost Family, All Star Family Feud and The People V. O.J. Simpson, as well as new seasons of returning local hits such as MasterChef Australia, Offspring, Shark Tank, Gogglebox, Bondi Rescue, Territory Cops and Have You Been Paying Attention?.
The dedicated HD channel will transform the audience experience, providing a crystal-clear picture and sharp, stunning images.
Network Ten Chief Executive Officer, Paul Anderson, said: “Nothing beats watching HD on the big screen at home and we are excited to showcase our sporting and general entertainment content in the highest possible quality.
“There has been a clear, growing demand from our audiences for HD and I’m delighted that recent changes to legislation have allowed us to bring all the excitement of HD to TEN for the first time.
“Network Ten is a clear leader in innovation across television and digital media. Our investment in this area is an important next step in our mission to deliver the very best viewing experience for our audiences,” he said.
Ten has also clarified that there is no known arrangement at this stage for its regional affiliates, such as Southern Cross Ten, to follow suit in offering a high definition simulcast of the primary channel.