Nearly half of homes watch Freeview - survey

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 05:00 16/05/2012

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Freeview says a Government-commissioned survey suggests nearly half of homes are now using its free-to-air television service and that Sky subscriptions may have dipped slightly.

The survey was carried out by researcher Colmar Brunton for Going Digital, which is charged by the Government with preparing people for the closure of analogue broadcasting this year and next.

Based on a phone poll of nearly 2000 households, it estimated 47 per cent of households with a working television had Freeview, up from 41 per cent three months ago, while the percentage of homes with Sky's pay-television service dipped from 57 per cent to 55 per cent. Some households had both.

Sky itself has claimed a lower take-up rate of about 50 per cent for its service.

Going Digital manager Greg Harford said the Colmar Brunton numbers were "self reported"; it was no surprise Freeview's penetration was up, but he could not comment on whether the survey really revealed a drop in Sky's patronage.

Freeview general manager Sam Irvine said the figures "supported his view that the last 20 per cent of households to convert to digital were always more likely to choose Freeview".

Sky is to launch a lower-priced digital service, Igloo, this month or next, which will provide a third digital option for households yet to make the switch.

That will possibly be in collaboration with Television New Zealand depending on the outcome of a Commerce Commission investigation into the joint venture.

A cloud on the horizon is that news and current affairs channel TVNZ7, only available on Freeview and Sky, will close next month.

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- The Dominion Post

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