By Chris Nicholls

NEW ZEALAND: New Zealand has launched its first free-to-air HDTV broadcast service, bringing the country into line with Australia and other nations in the race to HD content.

The move, announced yesterday, means TV1, TV2 and TV3 will start broadcasting high definition content from April.

Australia’s top two chains with a presence in the New Zealand appliance retail market, Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi, both saw the move as a positive that could boost HDTV and other related equipment sales there.

Harvey Norman director David Ackery said the move was “fabulous”, and would push sales up, as all HD content to date in New Zealand had been disc-based.

“As usual, we will be well positioned to take advantage of it [the switch-on of free-to-air HDTV],” he said. 

JB Hi-Fi chief executive Richard Uechtritz confirmed the move would help push flat screen sales further.

“People will be a lot more interested in high def and updating their screens, regardless of whether it’s a standard def flat panel or whether it will help the penetration rate of plasmas and flat screens, once people get their min around the quality difference,”

However, he said as a retailer, the move would not affect models sold.

“It’s more a [case of] ‘What the supplier puts out, we’ll sell,” he said.