HD won’t go off-air in Channel Nine switch for regional viewers

Confident: Jack Bird is tackled by Aidan Guerra of the Maroons during game two of the State Of Origin series on Wednesday.The high-definition channel 9HD will be broadcast into Canberra, Wollongong, southern NSW, regional Victoria and regional Queensland from next Friday when Southern Cross Austereo switches over to showing Nine’s channels.

The regional broadcaster said last week thatit would not be able to upgrade its transmission equipment in time for the July 1 switch, when itdrops its “Southern Cross Ten” branding and begins carrying Nine’s name and programs as rival WIN swaps to showing Network Ten content.

Ordering, importing, installing and testing of new HD equipment was expected to keep 9HD off-air until mid-August, Southern Cross Austereo said.

The delay was a blow to regional viewers, especially fans of live sport such asrugbyleague,and risked taking the gloss off the historic expansion of the famous Nine brand beyond Australia’s capital cities.

But Southern Cross Austereo confirmed on Thursday that it had scrambled with the help of technology supplier Cisco to make the 9HD channel available on channel 50 on remote controls.

“Recognising how much our viewers value the quality of high definition, our technical staff have been working tirelessly to get HD to air as quickly as possible,” the network’s head of regional media RickLenarcicsaid.

“From day one, when we start broadcasting Nine programs in standard definition on channel 5 on the remote control, we will also be broadcasting 9HD on channel 50,” he said.

“The third State of Origin on Wednesday July 13 will be in HD. In addition, in Queensland and NSW, all NRL season games on Nine, starting with the Storm versus the Broncos on July 1, will be in HD.”

While the 9HD service – launched by WINin regionalmarketsinMarch – will not be interrupted by Friday’schanging channels, the lifestyle channel 9Life is not expected to be available until mid-August.

From next Friday, the Nine, Gem and GO! channels, and such programs asThe Voice, Love Childand60 Minutes,will move from WIN channels 8 and 80 to 84 on viewers’ remote controls to channels 5 and 50 to 54.

WIN’s channels willchangetocarrying such Ten programming asMasterchef, The ProjectandFamily Feud.WIN will relay Ten’s primary channel on 8, Ten’s HD channel on 80, ONE on 81 and Eleven on 82.