Published 19 June 2012

We have been restacked!

Wellington (NZ) viewers woke this morning to find they needed to retune their sets (and set-top boxes and PVR's) in order to continue to receive FreeviewHD services. It shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone, having been heavily advertised. Re-stacking is the term that was coined by the Ministry of Economic Development for the process of rearranging digital TV channels into less spectrum so they can sell off the rest for 4G mobile services. It will happen all over the country in the next few months. This morning, it was the Wellington area.

I have heard comments from people mostly from areas already re-stacked that the process on their TV wasn't obvious. Following is an outline of the process on three TV's and a set-top box familiar to me. Other makes and models will be fairly similar. (Where I use 'enter' this also means 'OK'.) If you have a security code or child lock set, you will need to enter the code.

Sony Bravia set

When switching on, you are greeted by a message 'Selected programme is not tuned'. No guidance as to what to do next. The advertising over the past couple of weeks should have at least supplied the clue that you need to re-tune the set.

Hit the HOME button, navigate left until you get to 'settings'. Navigate down until you get to 'Digital Setup'. Hit enter. Choose 'digital auto tuning' and enter. The set will commence looking for channels. On my set, it took only a minute before it had found the three new channels with all the Freeview services present and correct.

Samsung LA32C450 set

This TV greets you with 'Weak or no signal - Check antenna cable connection'. At least this set provides one possible cause. The one option offered is wrong because there is nothing wrong with your cable or connection.

Hit menu, navigate down two steps until you see 'Country'. Enter. Navigate down until you get to 'Auto Store' Navigate right and either select 'Digital and Analogue' if you still want analogue as well, or select 'Digital only'. Down arrow and press enter when 'SEARCH' is highlighted. My set took less than a minute to complete and all was well.

Panasonic Viera TH-L32U30Z set

Your message will be something like 'Poor digital TV signal quality'. Select digital TV by pressing the 'TV' button possibly more than once. Hit 'MENU'. Choose 'setup'. Navigate down and choose 'Digital TV tuning menu' and press OK. Navigate down and select 'Auto Tuning' OK. Be brave and ignore the dire message that 'all digital TV tuning data will be erased'. Press enter again. The set then finds all new channels and Freeview services. It may take a couple of minutes.

Zinwell ZMT-620 set-top box

On screen, it will display 'No signal'. No further help as to what you might do next. Hit 'menu' and scroll down to 'Installation'. Navigate right and select 'Auto Scan. Hit Enter. Enter the PIN 0000 or whatever you changed it to. Now choose 'New Zealand' and enter. It warns that 'All channels will be deleted, Continue?'. Go on, select 'Yes'. Once you select yes, off it goes and just over a minute later, all is done and it displays TV1.

If it still doesn't work

If you activated the auto-tune process, the set went off to search and ended up by saying no services found, then you may indeed have an antenna problem. Assuming you had Freeview services before and nothing else has changed, the aerial is the likely culprit. Frequencies used by Freeview after re-stacking are almost certainly lower than before and some antennas don't work as well at the lower frequencies. Clearly this means your reception was only just making it before and the last straw was the slightly lower gain of the antenna at the new frequencies. This will mean investigating your antenna and might require buying a new one, but you could try re-locating it. If the mounting pole (and coax) is long enough, try raising the height, although in some cases, lowering it might work too. Even as little as 1 metre might help. If you are a heathen using an indoor antenna, you are on your own, but relocating might also work for you.

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