With the GovSatellite Coverage in NZernment rolling out digital TV service across the country, there has been a strong advertising campaign to let people know about the changes at home, but not much information about changes aboard their boats. For those who are unaware, at the end of the year, the Analog TV signal will start to be turned off, leaving you with 2 choices for TV, Terrestrial Digital, or Satellite TV. Here in the bay the switch will be thrown at the end of 2013, but for those around the country, the changes could effect you much earlier. The good news is that the new system will be much clearer, have more channels and electronic program guides – but only so long as you have signal.

Terrestrial Digital is the cheaper of the two new options, but will still require some new hardware. The main thing to note when comparing Terrestrial Digital to Analog is that it will a have a much shorter range than the existing service and is largely limited to line of sight (like VHF). This means in some areas, including most of the Coromandle peninsular, it simply wont work and you will need a satellite antenna to get TV instead. At home, Terrestrial Digital TV is received by Bosch TV antenna with stainless groundplanethe long antenna which looks like a hairbrush with a flyswat at one end. These aerials are highly directional so since you are on a boat which moves, these will be useless to you, you will need an amplified, omni-directional antenna. Some options for antennas look like UFOs, but we have found the best range comes from a whip antenna made by Bosch, which give excellent results when used with a proper ground plane. The whip antenna is also much less obtrusive and cheaper than most of the other options. It is also worth checking what polarisation the local signal is - most aerials will work better on one or the other.

 Satellite TV on boats has always been the more expensive option however the cost is definitely falling. Decent dishes start at about $4500, and the great thing is you can go anywhere with it and not have any reception problems. There are cheaper options available however these are prone to rain fade and reliability problems, and we have not recommended them for a while. Despite the cost, satellite Freeview is not high definition, to get high definition content from a satellite dish a sky subscription is required. Satellite will be the only option for a lot of boaties who travel away from major centres,

 So what about those of you who enjoy crusing in remote areas, dont want a satellite dish but still want to keep up with whats happening in the world? Suprisingly the only real option is to use a cellular internet connection. Downloading news and videos can be done over a much wider area than from digital terrestrial as the cell phone network is much more widespread. A good internet box and aerial starts at $1500, which will download video at broadband speed in good reception areas. Data starts at about $30 per Gigabyte, which would last most people the better part of a month.