Freeview has new channel
Freeview has a new TV channel. Lee Suckling finds out what it's all about.
If you've flicked over to channel 12 on Freeview in recent weeks, you'll have discovered Choice TV, a new lifestyle and entertainment channel.
"Choice TV is primarily aimed at providing Freeview viewers with programme genres that don't feature prominently in the schedules of the major free-to-air channels but rate very strongly when they do - they're more likely to be found on the pay-to-view channels (ie Sky)," says Alex Breingan, Choice TV's general manager.
"We're talking about content like travel, home and garden, food, festival feature films and documentaries. It's niche programming but there is an increasing demand for this kind of content; hence the popularity of pay channels."
Choice TV is headed by a small team of industry experts who have worked at the likes of TVNZ, Mediaworks, Sky and the BBC.
Julia Baylis is the creative programming mind behind the offerings on the new channel.
Bayliss has spent the past five years as head of programming and acquisitions for Living Channel and Food TV, and before that held a similar role at TV2.
The channel is privately funded by Top Shelf Productions. Using a unique schedule structure, Choice TV offers themed nights of television.
Monday comprises travel shows, Tuesday is full of property and design, Wednesday flaunts the great outdoors, Thursday is for foodies, Friday exclusively feature home and garden programming, and weekends are for general entertainment, including sitcoms and dramas.
It's all about "high-quality, unique and previously unseen shows", Breingan says.
The channel also runs 24 hours a day. First ratings from the channel aren't available until July 30, however, Breingan notes, "We've had a hugely positive response from wide range of viewers who are enjoying the broad selection of programmes on offer".
Programming consists of a large selection of international television, with great new British shows such as Celebrity Juice and Sugar Town expected to rate highly.
Australian shows include tabloid journalism-themed comedy Lowdown (narrated by Geoffrey Rush), and new American black comedies such as Lisa Kudrow's Web Therapy should please viewers in need of a dose of sarcasm.
Local shows such as What's Really In Our Food and Annabelle White cover the Kiwi market. Choice TV represents the evolving Freeview offering in New Zealand, akin to what is seen overseas.
"As New Zealand heads towards Digital Switch Over (DSO) there are parallels with other markets," says Breingan.
"The UK and Australia for example, have both gone through this process already.
''Australia now has around 12 free-to-air digital channels providing viewers more choice.
The UK went digital almost 10 years ago and has around 30 Freeview channels.
"Considering NZ's small population, the fact we have the same number of channels as Australia is great news for viewers."