Working or living away from your homeland can make even the most experienced expatriate homesick at times. All around the world you can find "Kangaroo" or "Kiwi" bars that serve downunder beer and have rugby or AFL on the bigscreen. Australian's are well served with hometown news in the Asia Pacific region via the ABC's international television service "ABC Asia Pacific". However until recently our Kiwi neighbours have had leaner pickings when searching for television news from home.
A feed of Television New Zealand's One News has become a welcome addition to the free-to-air television offerings to be found on Panamsat 2. The feed is not intended for direct-to-home viewing, in fact the exact reason why the 6PM nightly news from Auckland is being transmitted across the Asia-Pacific is yet to be confirmed by us here at MediaExplorer.
Some free-to-air satellite viewers have conjectured that the daily broadcast is being directed to television stations in the South Pacific, while others are wondering if the signal is intended for the inhabitants of New Zealand's Antarctica outpost, Scott Base. The crew at Scott Base are the ultimate expats, spending their six month tours of duty in the freezing cold, largely cut off from the rest of the world often amid months of darkness.
Scott Base and it's satellite link made dramatic headlines in early 2005 when the Intelsat 804 satellite died unexpectedly on January 15th. Intelsat quickly arranged for an alternative link to the Antarctic outpost via their other pacific satellite, Intelsat 701. What looked like an ideal solution was soon foiled when it was discovered Mount Erebus obstructed the low look angle of the Scott Base dish to Intelsat 701, preventing a reliable 24 hour a day signal. The permanent solution has been for to use Panamsat 2 for Scott's communications links, which has led some to speculate that the TV One News feed is for reception at the base.
Scott's dish sits barely above horizontal being located almost at the southern limit of communications for working through satellites in a geostationary orbit above the equator. The dish is 9 metres in diameter and housed inside a 14-metre diameter, geodesic dome that resembles the well-known white domes at Pine Gap in central Australia. The dome allows the dish to withstand the severe weather conditions of Antarctica.
The daily feed of the TV One News appears to be uplinked outside of New Zealand judging from the Telstra TOC test patten that precedes the feed. The signal is most likely transmitted from the Auckland studio to the Telstra television operations centre by the optical fibre link that spans the Tasman Sea.
Perhaps the One News feed has nothing to do with the Antarctic, at the moment this theory is yet to be confirmed. However regardless of the intended delivery point of the broadcasts, expatriate Kiwi's in Australia and the wider Asia-Pacific region are enjoying the nightly news from Auckland via their backyard dishes. The feed is seen daily between 4 and 5PM Australian Eastern Standard (Sydney) Time.
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