Channel 9 broadcasting in HD but will it work on your TV

there's a catch...

It’s TV announcement season and that means all the TV networks are presenting their plans for 2016 for their new TV shows, new ideas and perhaps even new channels.  We’ve seen two new channels announced – the Food Network from SBS and 9 Life from the Nine Network, but the announcement getting loads of attention is Channel 9 broadcasting in High Definition.  But there’s a catch.

From November 26 if you retune your Digital TV, you’ll get the new 9 Life channel, plus you’ll find Channel 90 is the normal “Main” Channel 9 in High Definition.  That’s if your TV can receive it.

You see there is a limit to how many channels a network can broadcast.  Each network has 23Meg of spectrum up there in the airwaves within which they can choose to broadcast whatever number of channels they choose.

A typical SD channel might be 4 Meg, a HD channel might be 12 Meg.  Theoretically more, but as the demand for more channels comes from the bosses at the networks, the techs need to squeeze the channels in and that means compromising quality for quantity.

There is a solution.  It’s called MPEG-4.  It’s a compression technology which allows a high quality signal to be broadcast in even less space than would currently be required (the current standard being used is MPEG-2).

It was confirmed by MediaWeek today that Nine will be broadcasting the HD channel using MPEG-4 compression.

The problem though is that MPEG-4 has not been standard in new TV’s since Digital TV was introduced.  It’s really only the last 5 years or so that all TVs have supported MPEG-4.

So if you have an older TV or a TV that can’t “decode” MPEG-4 – you will not be able to see the 9 HD channel.

Here’s how it looks (not 100% accurate, just a graphical representation of how the Nine Network are going to fit a new channel in AND simulcast the main channel in HD.


As you can see, they are dropping one of their Extra Channels, but the simulcast is a heavy load on spectrum that could only really be offset by the introduction of MPEG-4.

In reality, Nine won’t lose out with this little change, because 100% of homes can watch the content on Channel 9.  The question is what percentage can?  With HD penetration not at 100% on its own (sits perhaps between 90 and 95%) then MPEG-4 penetration could 70% or even lower.

Think about those second or third TVs in the bedroom, man cave or kitchen.  Those are older and likely don’t support this newer technology.

So, you won’t miss out on the cricket. But you might have to watch it in Standard Definition, until you buy a new TV:)

How can you check?

Good news is the Seven Network recently launched a Horse Racing channel on channel number 78 (Channel 68 in regional areas) – turn that on, because it’s in MPEG-4 already, so if your TV can view the TV channel, your TV will be able to watch Nine HD when it switches on, November 26.



Trev produces two of the most popular technology podcasts in Australia, Your Tech Life and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He hosts a nightly radio show on Talking Lifestyle, 8pm Monday to Friday in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show and A Current Affair. Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave. Like this post? Buy Trev a drink!
18 Comments on this post.
  • Alan ross
    30 October 2015 at 11:01 am
    Leave a Reply is on channel 68 in Wollongong, at least on my TV anyway.

    • Trevor Long
      30 October 2015 at 12:55 pm
      Leave a Reply

      Yes, Prime – thanks Alan, I’ve updated to reflect.

  • david wood
    1 November 2015 at 1:35 pm
    Leave a Reply

    will win tv be broadcasting in hd as well?

    • Trevor Long
      4 November 2015 at 11:38 am
      Leave a Reply

      We dont know yet sorry

  • Simon Yeo
    4 November 2015 at 11:33 am
    Leave a Reply

    So that explains why I can’t get the racing channel. Looks like I won’t be watching cricket in HD after all.

  • Sir John of Rabbit (@Bunnyboi007)
    9 November 2015 at 12:45 pm
    Leave a Reply

    Hi Trevor, So what version will Foxtel be broadcasting on channel 100?

  • Anthony Gunther
    16 November 2015 at 8:24 am
    Leave a Reply

    My four year old Sharp TV won’t receive it either but my eight year old TiVo does? Got to love technology and it’s routine built in redundancy. I’m sure those thousands of ‘near new’ tv’s destined for the tip appreciate the 24h shopping channel taking up the extra bandwidth forcing mpeg-4 compression. Channel 9 – Still the one!

  • Mike Spinks
    26 November 2015 at 9:19 pm
    Leave a Reply

    Some TV’s may may need a setting change to allow tuning for mpeg 4 this was the case with both my Panasonic sets. Over 5 years old. Originally I could get 9O had when I auto tuned. But I can now after turning on accept Avi4 through a menu setting. So may be other TV’s also require this. Good luck

  • Cathy O’Brien
    27 November 2015 at 9:30 am
    Leave a Reply

    So what you are saying is if you in a regional area (Wollongong is 45kms from Sydney gpo so not that bloody regional and most ppl work in Sydney!!!!) bad luck no 9life or cricket in hd! Good to see that tv stations are still perpetuating the metro/regional divide and letting us know we are irrelevant!

    • Trevor Long
      27 November 2015 at 9:35 am
      Leave a Reply

      Well yes, but you need to remember that Channel 9 is the Nine Network, Operating Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide Perth etc, they do not own or operate the regional stations.

      You need to lobby your local station to update their content offering – it’s actually nothing to do with the Nine Network.

  • todd fuller
    27 November 2015 at 1:37 pm
    Leave a Reply

    can i change a set top box settings to watch 9hd

    • Trevor Long
      27 November 2015 at 1:41 pm
      Leave a Reply

      What do you mean? Have you retuned?

  • Roger Mills
    3 December 2015 at 11:36 am
    Leave a Reply

    sound but no picture, both racing and 9hd, been searching for a mpeg4 decode download, to load on my internet tv box, does 1 exist ?

    • Roger Mills
      7 December 2015 at 10:36 am
      Leave a Reply

      Could my problem be antenna ?

  • Loraine.
    31 March 2016 at 10:59 am
    Leave a Reply

    I have a Phillips TV about 7 year old….sound no picture on Lifestyle racing chanel no picture no sound only telling me it is the racing chanel were do I go from here ….is there a set top box I can use.

    • Trevor Long
      31 March 2016 at 2:20 pm
      Leave a Reply

      Yes, your best bet is to buy a Free to Air Digital Set-top box – most major retailers will sell them

  • susan Wilson
    6 November 2016 at 10:19 pm
    Leave a Reply

    I am appalled at your tv station for showing women hunting lions. Shame on you. I will never watch ch 9 again. What will you show next. People skinning animals. You disgust me

    • Trevor Long
      7 November 2016 at 7:30 pm
      Leave a Reply

      Great job Susan, leaving a comment about a TV station on a page reporting news about a TV station. You’ll go a long way

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