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Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Big Switch.

Social media hashtag is #thebigswitch.
So, July 1 is approaching. The biggest affiliation shuffle in Australian history, is about to take place, with Southern Cross moving from Ten Network programming, in three aggregated markets (along with three joint ventures that previously carried Ten), to Nine Network programming and Win moving from Nine Network programming in three aggregated markets + some others to Ten Network programming. This is simply, a switch of programming, not channels, but will come with it’s own problems which we will get into, in a bit. However, the Southern Cross/Win change for QLD, at least, isn’t the first time a “shuffle” has happened.

History Behind the Switch.
Editorial cartoon, from Mackay Daily Mercury, December 31, 1990.
Sourced from SLQ microfiche.
Anyone in regional QLD, who remembers the final year of solus broadcasts in 1990 can remember the grip many people thought QTV had on Nine affiliation (including the 1990 season promo for Nine, (featuring Jermaine Jackson) filmed in and around Cairns), and the progress RTQ Rockhampton (owned by Win) and DDQ Toowoomba made towards a strategic alliance for Ten affiliation (beginning with RTQ switching to TVQ’s news upon Bruce Paige starting with Ten post “Lifestyles of The Rich and Vocal” saga), despite the network’s financial problems. At the same time, DDQ’s owners, who also controlled NRTV (itself preparing for Ten affiliation, a year after QLD aggregated) developed a radical plan, which would have seen the southern QLD Vision TV feed (including news presentation, which would see Toowoomba stories sent by satellite) operated out of NRTV’s home at Coffs Harbour. Eventually, the Vision TV brand was phased out in favour of Star Television, and the home straight for aggregation was in sight… until Christmas Eve, when Win not just bought DDQ, but made a titanic move, just seven days before aggregation: sign with Nine, leaving QTV, who had planned to sign formally with Nine, to rush a deal with Network Ten’s administrators, into taking their content. Some residual things remained, with the NRTV change: with the Coffs Harbour facility running both Win’s Southern QLD feeds and NRTV’s feed for a time: (which saw when the Gulf War kicked off: WIN’s room running Nine’s overseas links (e.g. the US ABC News) and the NRTV room running Ten’s (CNN) before Win returned southern QLD facilities to Toowoomba, while most newspaper editors were caught unawares, due to Xmas break, and published post Xmas TV guides for the lead in to January 1, (prepared pre Xmas Eve) with Star starting with Ten content...
Original schedule for January 1, 1991 for Toowoomba, from the Toowoomba Chronicle, December 27, 1990.
Sourced from SLQ microfiche.
A move like pre-designing TV listings, for such a important event, like aggregation without making space for a last minute: would not happen un-noticed by the public today, with the rise of social media and the 24hr news cycle.

Right now, I’ll give you the three tips that will be vital, for the switch to go as smooth as anything.
#1: Retune on July 1, not now.
Even though, Southern Cross/Win are hoping to stay with the existing LCN’s, it doesn’t hurt to retune your television sets/STB’s/PVR’s come July 1. The reasoning is simply, due to changes in channel lineups caused by “The Big Switch”.
E.G. Win post July 1:
8: Win (carrying 10 programs not Nine)
80: WinHD (carrying 10 programs not Nine)
81: Win (simulcast of 8)
88: (Most likely to be Eleven, replacing 9Go)
82: (Most likely to be One, replacing 9Gem)
86: Gold (Win’s existing datacasting channel)

9Go simulcast on 83, 9Life on 84 and Extra (datacast channel supplied by 9) on 85: will be removed from the Win multiplex.
Southern Cross post July 1:
SC9: (Expected to be 5 and 51, and carrying Nine’s programs not 10’s)
9Gem (Expected to be 52, and replacing One)
9HD (Expected to be 50)
9Go (Expected to be 53, and replacing Eleven.)
Aspire TV: (Expected to be 55, SCA’s existing datacasting channel)
54: TVSN will be removed from SCA’s multiplex, and replaced with 9Life.
For viewers of the newly changed Nine affiliate, expect a wait for a change to HD, and the addition of 9Life to the multiplex, even though placeholders exist.
However: A retune may indeed be mandatory, if ACMA decides to mandate that SCA and Win must change their LCN’s to reflect their new affiliation circumstances: that is, Win changing from 8’s to 5’s and vice versa for SCA. It is simply, a wait and see approach.

Some key numbers to remember for manual tuning for major centres
(RTQ is Win’s QLD callsign and TNQ SCA’s QLD callsign):
Cairns: RTQ: VHF Ch12, TNQ: VHF Ch6 (via Bellenden Ker TX, repeaters may be available mainly via UHF.)
Townsville: RTQ: UHF Ch35, TNQ: UHF Ch36 (via Mt Stuart TX, repeaters will be available for areas surrounding Townsville.)
Mackay: RTQ: UHF Ch 33, TNQ: UHF Ch 32 (via Mt Blackwood TX. Repeaters on different channels are available in the Whitsundays.)
Rockhampton: RTQ: UHF Ch 35, TNQ: UHF Ch 36 (via Mt Hopeful TX, Repeaters throught Capricornia are available on different channels)
Gladstone: RTQ: UHF Ch’s 31/50, TNQ: UHF Ch’s 32/49 (via TX’s east/west of Gladstone)
Bundaberg/Wide Bay: RTQ: VHF Ch 10, TNQ: VHF Ch 8 (via Mt Gooneneman TX, and is only QLD TX to reflect new channel affiliations post July 1, thanks to post DTV switch restack.)
Sunshine Coast regional: RTQ: UHF Ch 46, TNQ: VHF Ch 47. (Via Bald Knob regional TX, with repeaters for Gympie, Rainbow Beach, Cooloola Shores and Tin Can Bay)
Darling Downs: RTQ: UHF Ch 31, TNQ: UHF Ch 32. (Via Mt Mowbullen TX with repeaters on different channels in surrounding areas, including Toowoomba city itself, served by three repeaters.)
Granite Belt/Southern Downs: RTQ: UHF Ch 43, TNQ: UHF Ch 44 (Via Mt Tabor TX, with local repeaters on different channels)

#2: Don’t rely on your EPG.
Why, suddenly not rely on your EPG? The reason is, that it will not be accurate post-Friday. Your best bet, is to consult with something that you thought doesn’t exist anymore: a physical TV guide.
A physical TV guide, will give you the channels in the right spots, and have advertising for the correct channel, carrying the correct programming.
Physical TV guides can be found usually, in newspapers and of course TV Week: expected to have it’s highest sales in years in regional areas next week. A tip: Don’t panic buy copies of TV Week.
Online guides are just as handy, but will expect some issues come next week.

And most importantly, #3: Don’t panic.
When we mean “don’t panic”, we mean for people who fear that their favorite shows have disappeared, or whether or not Paul Taylor will be reading the news on Win next week, to simply realise the following.
-WIN and Southern Cross are affiliated stations. That means, Paul Taylor won’t be popping up on Southern Cross to read the news. He is not contracted to Nine, but contracted to Win, a affiliate, and Win will be taking Ten programs from July 1 not Nine’s.
-Win’s local news will return to 6pm slot on July 1, with new graphics and new theme music: due to the affiliation change, as Nine was sublicencing “Cool Hand Luke” along with graphical elements to WIN, as part of their previous affiliation.
-Family Feud can only be found on 11/One from July 1, due to Win’s news moving to 6pm.
-Nine main channel content will not be available in high definition in aggregated areas excluding northern NSW from July 1, until a date in the near future, due to technical upgrades. This same issue precludes 9Life from directly changing.
-Southern Cross still has no local news bulletins at this time, but is hoping that the Nine affiliation can encourage the restart of local news services.
-Nine in Brisbane is expanding coverage, to make up for the WIN loss, while also preparing for a Gold Coast news fight, come July 4, when Seven launches head to head at 5:30. Don’t expect any SC9 QLD schedule to be final, especially if Nine has something really big to reveal to counter Seven’s GC advances.
And finally –If you are a regional advertiser, this will be a fun time indeed, especially if you have longterm contracts with Win/SC (that were signed before the switch), that won’t carry over to the new affiliate. The prediction will be that SC’s ad-rates will rise, and WIN’s ad-rates will fall once 9/10 switch.


And that is it. If you want any more answers to questions, this site can direct you to Southern Cross’s website: www.nineon5.com.au, and Win’s: www.wintv.com.au . Both broadcasters have great social media presences, and will plug the switch at every opportunity. So sit back, relax and enjoy another piece of television history, one that will be forever remembered as simply, “The Big Switch”.

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