TVNZ Poised to Pull HD Trigger

On the eve of TVNZ unveiling its 2011 schedules, the broadcaster has confirmed it will be fully HD capable within the next two months.

“With complex installations such as these, it is always difficult to pin down an exact day and time but we aim to be fully launched by the end of this year,” TVNZ’s media management chief Lindsay Chalmers told

But don’t expect to see wall-to-wall HD in primetime as an early Christmas present.

“More HD content is likely to be phased in as content is purchased in HD rather than SD,” Chalmers says.

“Based on TVNZ acquiring enough HD content in the first place, the infrastructure is capable of delivering all primetime on TV One and 2 as HD.

“We will only be limited by how much content we are able to acquire/afford in HD.”

But given TVNZ has been working towards an HD switchover for the past two years, expect most of the content licensed for 2011 and beyond to be in 720p, which is the broadcaster’s HD standard, with 5.1 audio.

TVNZ will preview some of these shows to media and ad agencies on November 8, when it reveals its new-season strategies.

They will include new Warner Bros series like Undercovers, Chase and Nikita while ongoing staples like Chuck, Human Target, Supernatural, Private Practice and even Coronation Street also will premiere in HD next year.

However, there are no plans to broadcast news and current affairs in HD, even though TVNZ’s had HD capability in this area for some time.

“Although many aspects of the acquisition and editing systems are HD-capable, the nature of news gathering is that it occurs in the field,” Chalmers says.

“As such, there is still work to do in enabling link and feeding systems for HD, plus a mixture of SD and HD capability around New Zealand, therefore operationally it makes sense to remain in SD for the time being in our overall production.

“Sport is likely to be on a case-by-case basis and rights related.”

Given TVNZ used a major sporting event like the 2008 Olympics Games to showcase its HD potential, why has it taken so long for TV One and TV2 to become full HD channels?

“The Beijing Olympics were streamed back to TVNZ live and required very little of the existing infrastructure to manage this ‘to air’,” Chalmers says.

“Traditional broadcast infrastructures like TVNZ and TV3 were built many years ago and before the advent of HD. HD requires significantly higher degrees of storage, bandwidth and entirely new processes to handle it.

“TVNZ started its current project to enable it to do HD in significant volumes prior to Beijing but not in time for it.”

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