TVNZ7 boosts digital fare

New Zealand broadcaster kicks off channel

Pubcaster Television New Zealand launched digital factual channel TVNZ7 Sunday to boost uptake for the Freeview digital free-to-air platform.

The Freeview consortium of broadcasters has added 13 channels since the service launched on May 2.

FromWednesday, the Freeview satellite platform will be complemented by a digital terrestrial platform.

TVNZ7 joins digital entertainment channel TVNZ6 plus the digital re-broadcast of TVNZ analog channels TV One and TV2; Media Works-owned TV3, high-def TV 3 and C4; Maori TV as well as regional focused Stratos.

TVNZ7 features 30% news content, as well as documentaries, current affairs programs and commentary shows.

It launched with “The Kingmaker Debate,” a live political debate between the minor party leaders as the country prepares for this year’s general election in the fall.

The pubcaster is using its two digital channels to air shows that meet its public service obligations, leaving main webs TV One and TV2 free to show more commercial fare, thereby protecting ad revenue.

TVNZ chief executive Rick Ellis said Sunday the new channel represents a major milestone in the evolution of TVNZ as New Zealand’s public service broadcaster.

“We can show more diverse local public service type programs in primetime,” Ellis said.

Ad free TVNZ6 and TVNZ 7 are funded with a government grant of $79 million over four years.

Freeview will take over free-to-air broadcasting after analog is switched off, either when digital is in 75% of homes or 2012, whichever comes first.

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