Analogue TV switched off in Hunter

NBN engineer George Hird will switch off the station’s analogue transmitter atop Mount Sugarloaf at 9am today – 50 years after it was used to broadcast the first televised images to Hunter homes.

NBN used its analogue transmitter for its first broadcast on Sunday, March 4, 1962, when production manager Matthew Tapp took viewers on a half-hour pre-recorded tour of the Mosbri Crescent studios, followed by Murray Finlay, who read a half-hour news bulletin live.

Mr Hird, 68, joined the station in 1968 and spent 12 years in the 1970s and ’80s on day work at the Mount Sugarloaf transmitter tower, often carrying out maintenance after midnight.

‘‘Everyone associated the Mount Sugarloaf transmitter with me, we’re almost synonymous,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m part of the infrastructure and site.’’

He then installed analogue and, in the early 2000s, digital transmitters for NBN across 48 northern NSW transmission sites.

Under the government-organised switch to digital, northern NSW transmission sites will cease to transmit all free-to-air television signals in analogue formats from today.

‘‘It’s a bit sad in some ways, the change in technology,’’ Mr Hird said.

NBN manager of broadcast engineering and technology Stephen Brown said the station had spent $30million buying digital transmitters for transmission sites, consulting about the construction or upgrade of transmission sites at Warners Bay, Belmont North, Stroud and Anna Bay, and converting its studio to digital production.

‘‘Certainly for NBN it’s auspicious that this is happening in the same year we celebrate 50 years of broadcasting– it’s all tied up with a nice bow, we turn VHF channel three [NBN analogue] off and move to a digital future.’’

Viewers will need to have a digital television or set-top box to tune into the digital frequency.

Mr Brown said antennas may also need to be checked or repointed to a new transmission location.

Digital Ready Information Line: 1800201013.

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