Without fanfare a new TV channel is now available on your Free-to-air TV – in Sydney anyway. Right now it’s just a slide with no audio, but very soon it could be anything from a new niche genre channel to a HD simulcast of the main Channel 7 signal.
Appearing on sets as Channel 76, it’s taking up a fair bit of the network’s spectrum for a slide (1.4mbps), EFTM can confirm the new channel is currently being broadcast in MPEG-4 which leads us to speculate that the network is about to announce and launch a simulcast of their main channel in HD as Channel 9 did less than one month ago.
Using their available spectrum, they could easily launch a whole new channel in MPEG-4 with new content such as 9Life or SBS Food Network, the difference being that would be available only to those with compatible MPEG-4 sets, which as we’ve seen from the 9HD experience is problematic for many.
The most likely scenario is that 7 is doing broadcast “head-end” tests for MPEG-4 broadcasts, in readiness for a HD Channel launch.
I would speculate that if they announce a HD Simulcast, 7mate will drop back to SD and at the same time they could then launch a new niche content channel in MPEG2 – available to all Australian TVs, with the 7HD channel available only to newer MPEG-4 compatible channels.
A Channel 7 spokesperson confirmed to EFTM they were aware of the new channel broadcast, but at this time no formal announcement had been made regarding new or HD channel launches.