Hard News by Russell Brown


It's Choice, bro

Choice TV begins broadcasting tomorrow on Freeview HD channel 12. I'm not involved, but I'm delighted for my friends and colleagues at Top Shelf Productions that their big project is ready to roll.

When we're mourning Stratos and preparing the last rites for TVNZ 7, the launch of a commercial lifestyle channel might not seem so important, but, frankly, any expansion of choice in free-to-air television is welcome at this point. I also think Choice presents some interesting prospects.

The schedule is arranged by the day: Monday is Travel, Tuesday is Property and Design, Wednesday is Great Outdoors, Thursday is Food, Friday is Home & Garden -- and the weekend is for Entertainment. You've seen some of it before (such as Top Shelf's own What's Really In Our Food?), but most of the schedule is good first-run programming overlooked by other channels, including the Hairy Bikers cooking show and Design DNA

But the weekends will be the time to watch the channel develop. Choice will soon be showing New Zealand short films and heritage programming, and it seems likely that there'll be other local shows in future. As things stand, Choice is unlikely to attract NZ On Air support, so they'll have to find their own funding.

In a world where television is breaking down into pay-TV niches, launching free-to-air might seem ambitious, but the TV advertising market is quite strong at present. Choice will also target new-to-TV advertisers. I think quite a few people in the media and advertising industries will be watching with interest.

The Choice website is here and offers on-demand viewing, and there's also a Facebook page and a Twitter account. At present, it's only available on Freeview terrestrial, but that may change.

There are already promos rotating on Channel 12, but you may need to rescan your Freeview channels to see them -- I did. And I'll be having a look.

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