Today is the day that Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Adelaide, Perth, and Darwin will get a few new free-to-air digital TV channels. Just like in 2009, Channel 9 is again simulcasting its main TV channel in Full HD 1080i as 9HD, but it's using new technology to do alongside its existing 9, GO and GEM broadcasts, as well as introducing a new channel called 9Life — all using nifty MPEG-4 compression.
The Nine Network is calling it "9HD-Day". It's two years to the day since the launch of Channel 9's lifestyle broadcast GO, which will be re-named as part of the overhaul. GO becomes 9Go!, GEM becomes 9Gem, and 9Life is a new channel focused on lifestyle programming and replacing the infomercials on eXtra.
To get the new channels, you'll need to re-scan; if you don't already know how to, pick up your remote, look for the menu button, then search around until you find the setup or installation page where the auto-tune option is. Auto-tuning your TV will likely reset any favourites or special rules you had set up, but it's the only way to get Channel 9 in glorious, glorious 1920x1080i50.
You'll need a MPEG-4 compatible TV or set-top box to receive the new channels; any device that touted support for Freeview supports the encoding, but older TVs and hard-drive video recorders will be left out in the cold. The main Channel 9 broadcast will remain in the legacy MPEG-2 compression, though, so older and newer digital TVs alike will still be able to view it. (If your TV already receives the Racing Channel, it supports MPEG-4.)
In 2012, ACMA laid out its plans for the evolution of Australia's free to air digital TV network, including the rise of MPEG-4, DVB-T2 and the rise of HbbTV — known around Australia as FreeviewPlus. We're just starting to see those plans come to fruition, with FreeviewPlus hooking live TV into catch-up apps and MPEG-4 meaning better, clearer image quality with more programming on offer.
It's usually a good idea to re-scan for channels every now and then anyway, so just take this as an especially good excuse to. You'll be able to watch The Block in high def! [9HD]