Across Australia the switch to Digital Television was a progressive one which took place over many years and judging by the number of calls I received on both Radio and Podcast technology shows – a successful one for most Australians. 2014 presents a new challenge as the nation takes its final step in the move to Digital – the retune!
Apart from better quality and more channels, one of the key drivers of the switch to Digital TV was the federal government’s “Digital Dividend”. The idea being that once all the TV stations are broadcasting in Digital, the “space” in the air known as “spectrum” which was used by Analogue TV could be auctioned off by the government.
That Auction took place last year and looks to have brought in a healthy couple of billion dollars. However, the space that was auctioned off isn’t available just yet. Across the country all the TV transmitters need to be changed to move the channels into a single block together, freeing up a large contiguous block of spectrum – more valuable than lots of little bits and pieces.
So how does this affect you?
As a viewer, the end result is no different. The same number of TV channels are being broadcast, they will appear on the same channel numbers on your TV. However, behind the scenes your TV and the transmitter need to have a bit of a reconfiguration which actually moves several channels around.
What do you need to do?
Every single Television in Australia must be retuned in 2014. The specific date depends on the area you are in – Sydney happens tomorrow Tuesday 18 March. For your local date check the Government’s retune website.
Retuning your TV isn’t as easy as you might hope on some sets. Every single make and model is different. The basic principles are the same. You need to get into your TV’s menu – to do this, grab your remote and find the MENU button.
Once in there, look for an option related to “Setup” or “Channels” or “Tuning” Look then for an option to “Auto-tune” or “search”. This will set your TV off looking for the latest channel configurations.
It’s a process that takes about 3-5 minutes, and if you’re worried about doing something wrong to your TV – don’t be – the worst you can do is a factory reset, and the good news is – that will force a retune also.
What if I don’t do it?
If you don’t retune your TV you won’t get all the stations available on Free-to-air TV. In different locations across Australia this will affect different channels. In Sydney, if you do not retune your TV – when you next go to watch SBS channels (SBS ONE, SBS HD, SBS 2, NITV) you’ll get a black screen or “no signal”. A simple retune will ensure you’re getting every channel.
Once I’ve done my TV is that it?
That’s it for that TV, but you should remember that every Digital TV needs to be retuned, so if you’ve got a TV in the kitchen, the bedroom, the man-cave or anywhere else, it needs the same treatment.
Additionally, take the time to think about your neighbours and relatives, particularly the elderly – this isn’t the easiest process in the world – so pop round and help out your friends, family and neighbours.
I have Foxtel – do I need to do anything?
Yes. While you won’t need to do anything to your Foxtel box, and viewing channels like SBS (channel 104 on Foxtel) won’t change – don’t forget that behind every good Foxtel connection is a standard TV. Should you choose at some stage not to keep your Foxtel service, or if your Foxtel service is unavailable for technical reasons, how will you watch TV?
To check and retune, disconnect your Foxtel box from the TV and flick through the channels using your TV remote control. If you’re not getting all those Free-to-Air Digital Channels (ABC, ABC2/4, ABC3, ABC News 24, SBS, SBS HD, SBS 2, NITV, Seven, 7Mate, 7 Two, Nine, Go!, Gem, Ten, One, Eleven and more) then you need to retune.
Plus, don’t forget those TVs in the house that don’t have a Foxtel box.