Some of our Brisbane readers with certain models of TV’s might have had “new service” or “new channel” messages popping up in the last week or so. Or maybe you happened to be channel surfing and found out you had one extra channel added to the mix. The culprit…? Why, it’s 74 or TV4ME of course!
If you’re wondering why this is the first you’ve heard if it, the Seven Network has rolled out the station with a “soft launch” and it’s still in the testing stages. For those of you living in regional areas, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the station, broadcasting on 64 for several months now, through the Prime Network. Seven has now decided to expand the station into metropolitan areas.
An Australian first in the field of “datacasting” TV4ME will essentially offer a variety of programming in the areas of lifestyle, finances, community, education and shopping. Datacasting is not quite the same as a normal broadcast. It’s a layer of data that’s added over the standard TV signal that comes through (in this case) as an additional channel (similar to how Electronic Program Guides are broadcast or even Teletext if you can remember it!). This means that extra channels can be broadcast (yes, it’s true), but don’t expect the picture quality to take full advantage of your HD flat screens! Think YouTube quality without the search functionality…
Having a new station is all well and good, but it’s important to point out that not all Digital Televisions or Set-top boxes will be able to receive the channel. Since Digital TV launched in Australia, a type of compression called MPEG-2 has been used by televisions to convert all those zeros and ones into the pictures we see and the sound we hear. However, TV4ME uses MPEG-4 compression and not all older TV sets are able to decode it.
If you’re seeing a black screen, the case may be that your unit is not capable of receiving the new signal. Before you rush into your closest Videopro store consider if the content is really going to make or break your viewing schedule. Mainly geared towards infomercials and educational programming, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
If you think you should be able to receive 74 and are having difficulties, try doing a rescan of all digital channels on your set. If you are still having trouble, check to see if your set is MPEG-4 compliant in your owner’s manual.