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Digital futures discussion document

Ministers’ release: 11 August 2009

The options for the use of radio spectrum after digital switch-over of television services is the subject of a discussion paper released today.

New Zealand’s move to digital-only television is inevitable and makes sound economic sense, says Communications and Information Technology Minister Steven Joyce and Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman.

“Most countries have made, or are making, the switch-over to digital television, and analogue technology is rapidly becoming obsolete.  We will need to keep up and we’re on track to make the full switch-over,” says Dr Coleman. 

The paper seeks comment on new uses for radio spectrum after the switch-over to digital-only television transmission.  Feedback is also sought on options for regional broadcasters yet to transition to digital television. 

“Digital television technology makes much more efficient use of radio frequency spectrum than analogue technology, it also reduces transmission costs and energy consumption,” says Mr Joyce.

“In simple terms, eight to ten programmes can be broadcast in the spectrum required by a single analogue transmission.

“Viewers benefit too, with better quality sound and picture and increased choice of content and services.  Early and efficient digital switchover brings a significant net economic benefit to New Zealand, estimated to be over $300 million if DSO happens by 2015.

“This is an exciting prospect for New Zealand.  Having a significant amount of spectrum available for new uses will enable New Zealand to keep up with international developments in wireless communications and information technology, to improve productivity and economic performance.”

The paper also considers the challenges faced by regional broadcasters yet to move to digital transmission.

“Regional broadcasting provides an important complement to content on national networks. Government is keen to hear those broadcasters’ views on what are workable options for their future in a digital world” said Dr Coleman.

The discussion paper is available on both the Ministry of Economic Development’s website, and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage’s site The final date for submissions is 30 September 2009.  

Updated on 7th October 2019