Exclusive by Patrick Avenell

BRISBANE: In a bid to sure up the support of retail groups and retailers for the Freeview service, CEO Robin Parkes has been travelling the country talking to who she calls the “front line” of her business – the retailers themselves.

Parkes is currently in Queensland on the final leg of this trip, and in a break she explained to Current.com.au what the benefits were to the Harvey Norman franchisees and Retravision proprietors of the world.

“It’s giving them, in a year where there’s no Olympics and no World Cup, which is usually a driver of TVs and set top boxes, it gives them a reason to sell,” said Parkes

“People are going into stores and saying, ‘we want to upgrade to digital’ or ‘we want a set top box’, or ‘I’m moving from a set top box to an integrated TV’, so it’s driving [consumers]back  into the retail store.

“In fact our campaign that goes to air in April says, ‘for more information go to your local retailer’, so we’re using them as our front line in explaining Freeview.

“We explain the content deliver part and we’re leave it to the retailer to explain the technical equipment needed so they can actually tailor it to each person’s particular needs.”

Parkes claims that around 70 per cent of Australians are not ready for digital-only television transmission. Considering the early adopters are usually the most up-to-date with modern technology, it leaves a lot of technically naive consumers needing to be serviced. We asked what Freeview was doing to prepare retailers.

“We’re working with all the retailers. I’ve met with every head office retailer and also with Narta to work with all the retailers on this launch.

“There’s been a lot of confusion from the consumers about what this is all about, so they’ve been very supportive in us coming to see them and giving them information, working with them, giving them point of sale material, giving them retailer training, and just explaining [Freeview].

“The retailers have the challenge in talking to a group of non-technical savvy group of customers, when they’re used to talking Blu-ray and high def and they’re now talking to people who’ve probably never had a DVD.

“So there’s a big challenge for these retailers to make the complex technological message very simple for them.”