New Free-To-Air Channels Unlikely To Launch In January 2009

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On January 1 2009, all the commercial free-to-air networks are entitled to launch a second SD channel, to show unique programming in conjunction with their original SD and HD channels.

If you’re hanging out for that day, hoping to see a heap more Neighbours spin-offs quality programming, you’re about to be disappointed. The Age is reporting that Channel 10 boss Grant Blackley doesn’t think we’ll see any extra channels until well into 2009.

“We’re capable of launching from January 1 (but) I don’t think any network has said they will physically launch on January 1.”

The hangup seems to be not just finding the programs to show, but also the long search for advertising dollars – at the moment, the free-to-air networks have no OzTAM ratings data for their HD channels to take to advertisers to help sales. That will change by the end of the year, but it will still take a couple of months before the networks will be comfortable launching a third channel.

Of course, Channel 7 was tight-lipped as to whether they’re targeting the Jan 1 date, and Channel 9 are far behind when it comes to digital technology (plus they’re too busy wasting money suing IceTV), so when they launch a second SD channel is anybody’s guess.

Hopefully when they do launch we won’t have to sit through B-grade entertainment – if I have one complaint about the HD channels it’s that sometimes the selection of HD programming is terrible. Just because a show is high-definition doesn’t mean it’s high quality…

[The Age]