NZ consults on digital dividend

Rose Major

New Zealand’s new government has started its consultation on what to do with spectrum freed up by the switch to all-digital broadcasting – the so-called “digital dividend”.

Digital switchover is set for between 2013 and 2015, with a net economic benefit of NZ$300 million to the country if the target is met.

The discussion paper seeks feedback on:

* The feasibility and viability of various digital transmission arrangements for regional television;
* Possible support that government might make, if any, towards the transition; and
* The community contribution and business models of regional television, now and post-digital switchover.

The discussion paper also seeks feedback on proposals that:

* One-third of the UHF band be allocated as the core reservation for digital television on a nationwide basis;
* One-third be used and allocated on a geographic basis to meet television licence commitments in urban areas and allow new uses such as broadband wireless services in less populous areas;
* The remaining third of the UHF band, approximately the frequency range 694-806 MHz, be allocated nationwide to new uses such as new cellular mobile technologies.

Communications and Information Technology Minister Steven Joyce said: “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.”

Feedback is also sought on options for regional broadcasters yet to transition to digital television.