Escapist TV for a captive audience

17:00, Sep 21 2012


Prisoners will soon have their own customised television content, in the form of two specially programmed "Corrections Channels".

As the digital switchover date looms, the Corrections Department is upgrading its ageing master antenna television system, which provides a signal to prisoners' cells and day rooms via a single antenna or dish.

A document on the upgrade released to The Dominion Post reveals the department considers it essential it retains control of new digital receivers, such as Freeview, rather than providing each prisoner with their own.

"Freeview interactive features will not be available to prisoners due to the security risk this could pose long term."

The preferred plan will allow the department to receive digital signals, then decode them back into analogue signals for prisoners through pre-programmed channels.


Corrections Services general manager Brendan Anstiss said prisoners were not allowed DVD or video players, but had full access to free-to-air channels.

The new Corrections channels would include educational and rehabilitative content.

Details of the cost of the project were withheld and the department would not provide a figure.

Clearvision Communications owner Sam Abrahams estimated that for a prison such as Rimutaka, the cost would be about $10,000 if the cables did not need replacing.

The project is expected to be completed by November next year.

Prisons including Hawke's Bay, Rolleston and parts of Auckland Prison have already completed the digital TV upgrade, which is under way until December next year.

The Dominion Post