Watchdog tells Seven and Nine: You can do the grand finals in 3D, but no more

Nine will be allowed to broadcast the NRL grand final in 3D after all, the media watchdog has ruled, while granting Seven permission to do the same with the AFL grand final.

The ruling came less than a week after Nine announced it was showing the game, only for the Australian Communications and Media Authority to say the network had failed to file a report on its previous 3D test broadcasts and did not have permission to do any more.

ACMA also signalled that after the Nine and Seven football broadcasts, it would be calling a halt to further 3D trials for the time being. The ACMA announcement said:

“The Australian Communications and Media Authority today announced that it will issue licences to the Seven Network and the Nine Network to conduct trial broadcasts of 3D TV in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Newcastle, Adelaide and Perth covering the AFL and NRL grand final matches, respectively.

“The ACMA also indicated that it will suspend consideration of any further 3D TV trials while it conducts a review of certain spectrum, licensing and consumer policy issues associated with 3D TV.”

ACMA also had a warning for punters who were thinking of rushing out to buy a 3D TV to watch the games, which see the 3D coverage sponsored by Harvey Norman on Nine and Panasonic on Seven. ACMA said:

“The ACMA again reiterates that consumers should be aware that trials typically involve lower power transmitters than those used for regular free-to-air services. As a result, not all consumers in trial areas will be able to receive the 3D TV broadcasts, even if they have a 3D television.”

Consumers who buy 3D sets face potentially owning a white elephant, as none of the networks currently have spectrum available for regular free to air 3D broadcasts.

ACMA has published a discussion paper on the topic. It warned:

“Aspects of uncertainty regarding 3D TV have prompted the ACMA to consider whether there is a risk of consumer expectations of widespread and continued availability of free-to-air 3D TV services. If information does not reach consumers that free-to-air trials of 3D TV are limited in duration, it is possible that consumers may purchase a 3D-ready television receiver because they believe that they will have access to a regular free-to-air 3D TV service.

“A further possible risk is that the consumer making the purchase may be in a city or region in which trials are conducted, but not in the coverage area for the trial. The lower power levels used to transmit the trial services mean that coverage areas are generally smaller than those for regular digital television services.

“During the recent trials there were media reports of people purchasing 3D TV receivers in the expectation of receiving the broadcasts, when in fact these people resided in areas that were outside the coverage area of the trial, or in an area for which broadcasters had not sought approval to conduct trials. The trial report provided by the Nine Network also indicated some confusion by consumers.”


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