Ministry of Culture and Heritage

New Zealand’s switch to digital TV is running smoothly on the home-front – but TV broadcasters are having a rough ride through a jungle of bungles by state agencies.

More than 90 per cent of home viewers are now ready for the final switch to all-digital TV at the end of this year – but many of the country’s free-to-air broadcasters are having a tough time shifting to the new digital world.

The death of Stratos Television last week is a sad, bad story – and we have not seen the end of it.

At 11:00am on Friday, 23 December, Stratos Television vanished quietly from the programme menus offered by the Sky, Freeview, and Telstra Clear distribution networks.

Official papers show Television New Zealand won $79 million in government funding for its advertising-free channels TVNZ 6 and TVNZ 7, by claiming they would be self-funding by 2012. Now they are closing the new channels down to enhance profits.

Television New Zealand told the last Labour government that two advertising-free channels it was launching to lure viewers onto the Freeview digital transmission platforms would be self-funding by 2012.

Ructions over free-to-air television coverage of the Rugby World Cup raise major questions about the sustainability of New Zealand’s approach to public broadcasting

It had to happen sooner or later – and rugby is just the issue to get New Zealanders exercised about the $230 million worth of taxpayers’ funds being spent annually to provide us with public broadcasting services.