Free digital TV on cards for disadvantaged viewers

Last updated 05:00 15/12/2011

Up to 60,000 disadvantaged television viewers may be provided with digital set-top boxes paid for by the Government so they can continue watching television when analogue transmissions are shut next year and in 2013, an official says.

Sky Television spokeswoman Kirsty Way said Sky and its Igloo joint venture with Television New Zealand had expressed interest in supplying the boxes, but both were turned down.

Neither was invited to participate in a subsequent closed tender, scotching speculation in a newspaper report yesterday that Igloo could get a leg up from the assistance scheme. "We won't be involved unless there is a huge turnaround somewhere, which we are not expecting," Way said.

Greg Harford, manager of Going Digital, the division within the Culture and Heritage Ministry charged with preparing the public for the analogue switch-off, would not say which companies were still in the running but they are likely to include consumer electronics manufacturers. The ministry was still working out the details so no final decisions had been made, Harford said.

He expected officials would brief newly appointed Broadcasting Minister Craig Foss early in the new year.

Former Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman committed last year to an assistance package for "those who really need it".