In the Melbourne metropolitan area it's possible to receive up to six analogue terrestrial TV channels. As in the UK the analogue TV signal is to be switched off in phases and there is currently (April 2009) an information campaign running to raise awareness of the need for either a digital TV or set top box in the foreseeable future. In the meantime the analogue free to air channels are as follows:
- ABC1 - The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Australia's BBC, a government owned non commercial broadcaster. Like the BBC there are no adverts though unlike the BBC it is tax funded direct from the government and there is no TV licence. ABC1 carries a mixture of drama, comedy, children's TV, documentaries and current affairs programs. A number of shows will be instantly familiar to British ex-pats since the ABC buys a lot of shows from the UK, e.g. Spooks, The Bill, Midsomer Murders, Foyle's War, Grand Designs (strange seeing some of these without ad breaks). ABC1's program guide for Victoria is available here (ABC website).
- 7 - This is one of three major commercial TV channels available free to air in Victoria. 7 is partnered with Yahoo and shows a fair amount of home grown Aussie TV but also a number of US imports. It also shows a number of sports including the Friday night and Sunday evening AFL (Aussie Rules football) game, golf, rugby, tennis and the Beijing Olympics, though it lost the rights for the next Olympics (the 2010 and 2012 Games will apparently be shown by Nine on free to air and Foxtel). It also shows some news and current affairs programs. 7's program guide for the Melbourne metropolitan area is available here (Yahoo7/Seven Network website).
- Nine - Channel Nine is also a commercial channel and has a similar mix of programming to its rivals, Seven and Ten - some home grown shows, some US imports, some news and current affairs, some documentaries and some sport. Nine is partnered with MSN and its program guide can be found here (NineMSN site, seems to assume everyone lives in central Sydney so put in 3000 for the postcode).
- Ten - Network Ten is the third commercial TV station and like Seven and Nine has a mixture of Australian made TV and imports, mainly from the US. Among other sports Ten shows two more AFL games (Saturday afternoons) and currently has exclusive coverage of Formula 1. Ten's program guide is available here (Network Ten website, again seems to assume everyone lives in Sydney).
- SBS - Special Broadcast Services or SBS is a public service broadcaster similar to Channel 4 in the the UK, and like Channel 4 is obliged to meet certain criteria for program content. This basically means that SBS has a more global/multi-cultural slant than some of the other channels and also tends towards more factual programming, though it does also show drama, comedy, sport etc. It has a number of imports as well which, unlike the three commercial channels, come from many different countries and not just the US. Many of these also have factual content, e.g. both the UK and Australian versions of Top Gear, Mythbusters, series such as Long Way Round etc. Others are shown in languages other than English and are either dubbed or have subtitles. For some reason SBS shows the Eurovision Song Contest as well, which suggests that it's not possible to run far enough to escape it. The SBS program guide for the Melbourne area can be seen here (SBS site).
- Channel 31 - Channel 31 is a local non-profit TV station that can only be picked up in Melbourne and some other areas of Victoria, and even then the picture quality is pretty variable. Most of the Melbourne area has reasonable reception but in some places where there are tall buildings etc in the way of the transmitter the reception can be a bit hit and miss, and in most of the rest of the state it's non existent. The programming leans towards local and multi cultural, including some non-English shows. Their website is www.c31.org.au and has a page where the weekly Channel 31 TV schedule can be downloaded.
All of these TV channels with the exception of Channel 31 are available digitally as well (presumably Channel 31 will become digital at some stage as well) in addition to which some have additional channels broadcast different content and/or in high definition. Digital TV viewers can expect a choice of the following:
- ONE HD - One HD, formerly Ten HD, is Network Ten's high definition 24 hour sports channel. At the moment it includes some live sports events that are shown on Ten later, possibly oinly as highlights, some repeated events such as footy from the previous weekend shown again midweek, some US imports such as college and NBA basketball, some less mainstream sport such as the ANZ women's netball series between Australian and New Zealand teams, and some obscure stuff that virtually no-one outside the game has ever heard of before. Since in it's earlier incarnation as Ten HD it was not exclusively as sports channel and at the time of writing it was re-launched as OneHD only a few weeks ago it's still early days.
- ABC1 - as above.
- SBS - as above.
- 7 Digital - as 7 above.
- Nine digital - as Nine above.
- Ten Digital - as Ten above.
- ONE Digital - simulcast of One HD in standard definition.
- ABC HD - simulcast of ABC1 in high definition, though not all content is necessarily HD.
- ABC2 - similar content to ABC1 and includes repeats of some shows from ABC's main channel, though a certain amount of programming is unique to ABC2.
- SBS HD - simulcast of SBS in high definition, though not all content is necessarily HD.
- SBS World - soon to be launched digital only channel - SBS2 at Wikipedia. Currently (April 2009) this seems to be a simulcast of SBS.
- SBS 2 / SBS World News - 24 hour non English language news channel, apparently about to shut down in order to be replaced by SBS World.
In addition there are a number of digital channels that are either identical to existing channels (e.g. having auto-tuned my TV I can get 7 Digital on the digital channels 7, 71, 72 and 73, ABC1 on 2 and 21, and Nine Digital on 9 and 90), have a different name but are currently simulcasting as above (also ABC3 on digital channel 23) or are not yet transmitting (e.g. one on channel 34 that is labelled by my TV as "SBS 4" but at the moment is just a black screen). These are a mystery to me but might all be potential future channels. ABC and SBS both have a couple of digital radio stations that some TVs and set top boxes may also pick up.
The three commercial TV channels can be a source of frustration for newcomers, and indeed for Australians. Aside from the ad breaks, which are annoying but understandable, all three have an infuriating habit of starting programs late. The networks seem to be content as long as a show goes out somewhere vaguely near the scheduled transmission time, and while this applies to the UK as well here it can mean starting a program more than ten minutes late. If you record a lot of TV you have to bear this in mind and allow a hell of a lot of leeway either side of the supposed start and finish times. Another thing when watching recorded TV is that when skipping forward through ad breaks it's easy to miss the bit where the break stops and the show you're watching starts again because they tend not to have an "identifier screen" displayed for a few seconds between the two. Finally, and most annoying of all, is that the commercial networks are known to start showing a new series only to move it to another slot without telling anyone, or even drop it altogether, a few weeks later. This may be because that all three appear to have US style ratings holidays at certain times during which none of them feel the need to make an effort, that the whole ratings thing seems fairly cut throat and if a show doesn't seem to be doing well enough in the battle of that time slot it gets moved rapidly, or in at least one case because it's an import that flopped in its own country and since they only made a handful presumably got bought cheap to fill a slot for a couple of months. The bottom line is this: shows will often suddenly stop in the middle of the series without explanation and with no apparent reason only to start again weeks or even months later, and quite possibly at a different time or day. Or not at all. If you like TV shows that are on the commercial networks here you should either be prepared to be mucked around or give up and order your favourite shows on DVD.
Your UK TV in AustraliaEdit
Since Australia and the UK use the same voltage for many TVs, especially newer models, to work in Australia there will be little more to do other than changing the plug or using an adaptor. However, some may show the picture normally but without any sound. The reason is apparently that sound and pictures are carried on different frequencies and UK TVs are programmed to look for the sound signal a certain frequency away from whatever frequency the picture is being received on. It seems that in Australia there is a larger gap between the picture frequency and the sound frequency than in the UK, so the TV will basically be looking in the wrong place for the sound. If the TV has extended menus with country options the obvious first step is to see if Australia is on the list. If so then once it's been told that it's in Australia the TV ought to look in the right place for the sound and work just fine. If there is no Australia option in the countries menu it might be simplest to buy a new TV when you get here, although the Germans use the same sound settings as in Australia so the TV may well work properly if you set the country to Germany instead (of course this might also mean the language in the menus changes to German as well).
If you didnt know already , you may be pleasantly surprised to find out that 99% of DVD players are region free, I dont think anyone is quite sure why this is kept such a secret but I'm sure its something to do with branding in various countries and deals between film makers etc
Anyway heres a link to show you how to make your DVD region free so you can play DVD's from all over the world
PLEASE NOTE. THIS IS A FREE SERVICE, DONT BE DUPED INTO THINKING THAT YOU NEED TO PAY TO GET YOUR MACHINE MADE REGION FREE BY SOME OF THE COMPANIES YOU SEE ADVERTISING ON THE WEB
Downloading TV shows from BitTorrent
Usenet is essentially a large scale discussion forum. It predates the world wide web by roughly 10 years. Discussions are split into different Newsgroups. There are roughly 30,000 different groups.
It is possible to include binary files in posts to newsgroups. A binary file is defined as something other than text. It is this ability that enables the distribution of media files on Usenet.
Usenet news servers continually update each other with their content, distributing the content around the internet. ISP's generally include news server functionality as a part of their service.
Accessing content on Usenet
1. News servers
ISP's generally host their own news servers. For example iinet have one at freenews.iinet.net.au. To access the content on it set up a newsreader with the details provided by your ISP. Many email programs (such as Outlook Express) double as newsreaders, however freeware and software is also available. For example Forte Free Agent (free),News Shark (paid) or UseNext (paid).
The interface looks very much like an email inbox. With new posts being listed in posting order.
Large files (for example a TV show) will be split into multiple parts, one post per part. This is because there is a size limit on file posting. In order to obtain the complete media file a user is required to first obtain all the parts that make up the file by downloading each message. Each part will be in an individual rar file. Using unarchiving software such as winrar or izarc these files are extracted and combined into the original and complete media file.
In summary: Connect to the news server. Download all parts of the file. Unzip all parts back into the original file.
The limitations of using Usenet in this way are that locating all parts of the file can be difficult; they may be mixed in with multiple other posts in high volume news groups, could be posted over a number of days or may be missing. In addition Newsgroup content is only available for a short duration before it is removed from the server.
2. Paying a Usenet hosting service.
There are a variety of different providers on the internet. In general they have the following advantages over free access:
a) They host content for longer because they have their own copy of every Usenet binary file. This means that media files will be available for anything up to 100 days after posting.
b) They check that a post is complete and in some cases unzip the file for you on their own servers.
c) You can queue files for downloading. For example you can add multiple episodes of a TV show to a queue and download the entire queue in one zip file.
One example of this service is http://www.easynews.com
In summary: Sign up to the service. Search for the files. Add them to the queue. Download them.
Finding out what is available
In general if a file is available on torrents it is available on Usenet. If you are using a paid Usenet service then a search function will be available however searches are usually per newsgroup. In order to search all newsgroups then a free service such as binsearch can be used: http://www.binsearch.info/
Speeding up your downloads
The primary advantage a Usenet service has over torrents is speed. Torrents download slowly over a number of days and rely on peer availabilty. Usenet services provide a unique URL for your file and therefore it can be downloaded directly. To maximise the speed of this download an application such a Getright, or Reget could be used. These applications open multiple threads to the same file, combining them as it is downloaded. As a rough guide a 30 minute TV show can be downloaded in 12 minutes.
List of Usenet groups for media files
The primary usenet groups for UK specific TV shows are: