CHOICE membership

Apps/Function Problems with TV's


I’m no expert, but I understood that the important component was the tuner/recorder. ie, if it can decode HD, it can send that image as HD or lower, ie, that a SD TV can see HD TV Channels, but only at SD resolution?

So my DVD recorder can decode MPEG 4, but maybe it ist more complex than that, HD isn’t just HD, that it now comes in different HD specs and they aren’t compatible with older decoders. If true, a situation I think is grossly unfair. One can never keep up with technology. It seems wrong that perfectly good equipment has to be scraped, so that people with more current equipment can benefit, but at the expense of other users.


The first part is correct, the second part not quite. If the SD TV had a HD tuner, then yes, if it only has a SD tuner, then no. Most SD tuners would however pick up the HD channel but would be unable to decode it for watching.

Also, looking at the specs for your Panasonic device, it appears that it has a HD tuner. Some old reviews indicate that it will record in HD, but haven’t been able to see if HD tuner works with live to air TV.

Here is the link to the manual…

It may be worth reading (I haven’t done so myself) to see what it says.


Some vague wisdom from the linked ACMA site. A set top box, digital tuner, PVR etc all need the same MPEG-4 capability as a TV tuner to receive and decode.

Your TV is MPEG-4 compatible if you can see and hear the channels that use MPEG-4 standard. You may have to perform either a manual or auto-tune to receive the new channels first.

The age of your TV may also provide a clue—most TVs purchased before 2009/2010 tend to be MPEG-2 only, whereas many (but not all) TVs purchased after this date are MPEG-4 compatible.

It would appear a good generalisation that all digital non TV devices have the ability to convert the received signal and output it in a lower quality format. Assuming they have suitable connectors, EG Composite or component video. Our Fetch supports composite video, which even primitive CRT Tv’s were equiped to handle. Of course the picture as displayed is only as good as the TV. It might benefit from the more precise quality of the transmitted signal.

Agree the notion of deliberate technological change/obsolescence and churn is another way to keep us all poorer.

I do however accept some change as beneficial. The invention of the zipper and demise of buttons for the trouser fly might be one? Permanent press and the elimination of starched clothing is another? :rofl:

ACMA had this to say about the future. Roll over MPEG-4.

The free-to-air broadcast industry is yet to determine future directions for compression standards to be implemented in TV markets in Australia. While almost all new TVs bought today would be compatible with MPEG-4, not many are yet compatible with future transmission standards such as DVB-T2 or future video compression standards such as MPEG-H HEVC (H.265) that might be rolled out in the future.

Perhaps there is a more recent update to this with the latest Choice TV reviews?


I am very dissappointed not to have heard anything in the media about Choice having stood up for SBS consumers regarding the loss of TV channels to existing SBS viewers.

Not only is SBS Viceland not available any longer, but after a month of razamataz, telling us that Chaneel 32, although no longer Viceland would be the new Movie channel. However, that is apparently only for SBS users who have the most modern equipment, not that SBS information told viewers!

If this was Microsoft or Apple, and they had done something like this, eg, made Office Word, now only available to users with the most modern version of Windows, or the most modern desktop there would be uproar. But, neither SBS, nor it seems Choice, gives a damn.

My Panasonic DVD recorderDMR-XW380 specs says: Video recording system MPEG2 (hybrid VBR)/MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 But even after re-tuning numerous times Ch 32, as of today, no longer exists.
My TV is not HD, and Viceland is long gone!


A sad reality is Australia is a traditional dumping ground for old technology that is at its end date. While the world was adopting PVRs we still were being sold VHS like there would be no tomorrow. Then we got SD-only FTA TV products during the brief window before HD was rolled out, only to have to replace them after a short time to see all the FTA services… Many of us were and are ‘victims.’

There are some low cost HD set top boxes that can do limited feature recording such as this one for $40 and another for $48 that might suit if you have HDMI inputs or another one supported by the STB; and I expect you are aware of the dearer products such as Humax and Beyonwiz. Apologies for the HN links, they were just the first to pop up.

A related thread is


They say it is on, and I have watched, SBS Viceland on Channel 31 but it is in HD format. SBS Viceland is also available on SBS On Demand for which I understand you do not need HD but you do need decent internet (25 Mbps or so at least to get good viewing but slower speeds may be adequate).

You can if you have a smartphone or tablet, use a Chromecast device and the Freeview FV App (Android see for iOS search the Apple Store) to cast from the internet to a TV with a HDMI input the Free to Air Channels such as ABC, SBS etc.

Also the TEAC STB that @TheBBG links under the $49 highlighted link will allow you to set the output resolution your TV supports.


It also has RF input and output and composite AV output so doesn’t need a HDMI input on your TV to see the shows you wish. If you wish to read the manual see



Unfortunately Microsoft is no different. In the past new windows versions were released and support for older versions cease. One running an old version of Windows often needs to replace the hardware to run a newer version, making both the old windows version and hardware redundant.

Hopefully with Microsoft plans to have a long life for Windows 10, the problem may not be as bad looking forward to that which has occurred in the past.

Unfortunately today many technologies have a short life (PCs are one example, phones are another when a new generation comes into fruition and older generations cease, making older ones redundant, changing from analogue TV to digital is another where a TV/VCR or some of its hardware became redundant, changes from dial up to NBN is another…and the list goes on).

Many consumers today also replace their TVs before their end of life…to get the next bees nees version. I expect that the broadcasters assume that most consumers have done such, even though there will always be a small number than will be impacted by changes they make.


Thank you both for helpful comments, and ideas for workarounds. However, my concern is that this is giving Choice, ie, @AlanKirkland and @DenisGallagher a cop-out.

This is a major Consumer issue impacting nationwide, probably affecting 000s, and I haven’t heard a squeak out of Choice. But, that is what they are here to do.

We all like to receive things, gifts, pay rises, etc, but taking them away has a far stronger impact, inordinately stronger. There has been much research on the latter. This is what SBS are doing taking away channels from 000s of viewers. Who cares if they are HD, my SD has been replaced with nothing!

I’m angry about it, and even more angry with Choice’s apathy.

I think you are missing the point re MS. I’m not talking about going back to analogue, the MS equivalent of going back to DOS, when MS does make changes they are announced well in advance, years ahead, and it starts with no ongoing upgrades and support, not total obsolesce. Digital has only been here a very short time, and yet it is already making expensive equipment obsolete.

I don’t want to watch TV in my office on a desktop, fine occasionally to catch up a missed program. I want the comfort of my lounge. I don’t think I am alone in this.


Thanks for tagging me @longinthetooth - I had not been following this debate.

This is unfortunately not an issue for us. As a not-for-profit organisation, it’s important for us to stick to the purpose for which we were established, which is to work for fair, just and safe markets that meet the needs of Australian consumers. This means that we typically work in areas where consumers are engaging with businesses in markets for goods and services. We don’t generally work on public sector (or public broadcasting) issues.

I was also going to suggest a few workarounds but I see that others have already done this. I do understand the importance of being able to watch some programs as they are broadcast on your TV, so I can understand that the changes must be particularly frustrating for you :slight_smile:


Why is everyone worried? I logged in and was notified that new channels are available. I did a scan and Ch 32 came up…

had a look at the guide on line and pre taped few movies as I will not be home when they are on…

Everyone moved to digital tv few years ago, no?


Of course, but not all digital TV sets are created equal. Mine, for example, does not receive several digital channels. I ended up buying a Fetch Mighty so I could receive them. shouldnt have bothered, I barely record anything and would not miss that capacity if it was absent. However, I dont think my Fetch has picked up the new SBS channels. I’ll have to wait for a firmware upgrade I suppose.


The earliest adopters bought what are called SD (standard definition) products. Not so long afterward HD (high definition) products and ‘services’ came to market. An SD product is technically unable to receive HD content - it can detect an HD service but is unable to decode the transmission format so one gets a blank screen.


This a consumer issue. I don’t see the logic to ignore certain suppliers.

I think this a little different as the consequence seems to be forcing patrons to change their technology at a national scale. SBS is Gov’ funded, so there is less incentive for the most of the media to do anything about this. If it can happen to SBS do Choice support these type of changes holus-bolus?


Did you make the same observations when TV evolved from analogue to digital and 100% of TV watchers had to upgrade, and how did that go? One has to pick the ‘fights’ to those they might win, and to those that are the comparatively more valuable to the most consumers when there are limited resources.


The situation we have here could apply to any channel any provider. SBS has had two main channel, SBS 1 & 2. About a year ago they changed the name of channel SBS 2 to Viceland. There was never any indication that SBS was going to remove SBS 2 from population wide availability, which they have done with a few weeks notice. It would be like any of the other providers just removing a station. Nearly all the other stations, no matter which provider, have both a SD and HD version, and they haven’t indicated they intend to close down any of their SD stations, SBS didn’t either. Now they have set a precedent; will the providers now shut down their SD stations with just a few weeks notice?

SBS had the option that all the other provider have ie, to have both HD and SD versions of their stations.

This has the potential to become a bigger issue, the tip of the iceberg, and Choice our Consumer Association, has made the Choice to do nothing.

Analogue to Digital - This was well planned, well informed process with long lead times. It involved both Gov’t and private sector information sources, including Choice.

Like the switch to NBN, everyone including Choice got on the same high end band wagon, the fastest speed service wasn’t delivering. Who cares about the low end internet users! It was years before the NBN providers actually started competing for the basic NBN service, the service that most people will benefit from. Even now we don’t have comparative usage data on different speeds and volumes that people actually benefit from, we don’t know if households actually need a particular speed/volume mix. Its like having a motorway outside your door, some use it to travel significant distances that save them measurable time, but is the time saving using a motorway for 2km trip to get a paper beneficial, if you had to pay a toll would you do so?

Most of us don’t need HD tv, the crispness of the image is of no significance when engrossed in a movie.

The testing Choice does on tv are about specs, rather whether we need HD for typical viewing on typical screen sizes. It doesn’t matter what level of HD an image is, you still can’t tell whether the tennis ball is in or out, without the electronic sensing equipment at the sporting venue. Our brains can only process a little better than 50Hz!


I personally find it more offensive that the stations provide exactly the same content on multiple services, often 2 x SD and 1 x HD be they reality shows, sports, or whatever. I feel the only reason for SD hanging on is because after so many of us buying SD equipment (that was already nearing obsolescence) it would have been a political catastrophe for everything to become HD. If everything was HD (or even if not!) it could be legislated the companies could not broadcast the same rubbish on multiple services simultaneously, that being another aspect that for me would be a better use of resources should it ever be pursued.


@longinthetooth, I don’t want you to think that we are apathetic to your concerns, and we note that you have received a response from our CEO. While we don’t typically deal with public broadcasting issues, we do understand the frustration when products become obsolete faster than your expectations. I’d like to expand on the issues at hand for you.

You’ve indicated that your tuner is the Panasonic DMR-XW380, which was released roughly nine years ago (the age of the technology is relevant in this instance). I have checked the manual and the Panasonic site, and it appears to me that your current device is not MPEG-4 streaming compatible and therefore will not pick up the SBS Viceland HD channel along with some others. Our research indicates that a high-end appliance like this should have a life expectancy of around eight years. When did you purchase the tuner? If it was more recently that eight years ago and from a retailer, you may still be able to make a claim for a partial refund under the Australian Consumer Law that it was not fit for your purpose of streaming HD TV.

I see your argument is also on the principle that this may affect a large number of people, that TV broadcasters are removing access to certain channels. We understand what you are saying, but we haven’t received a large volume of complaints on this issue yet, and I can’t find an overwhelming response on other online sources. We need to factor this in when we consider detriment and how allocate our finite resources, and we note that some have indicated that higher definition streaming is considered a benefit. Still, we’ll do our best to help anyone who is a member of the CHOICE Community with practical advice.

We also note that the speed of the change is factor for the Viceland channel, and we encourage you to offer this feedback to SBS. However, in terms of the transition to MPEG-4 TV streaming, this has been occurring for the past few years. It’s probably likely that in the next few years, we’ll see more TV channels will drop their SD broadcast option.

For other consumers that are experiencing compatibility/tuning issues due to the transition to MPEG-4 video format (or other similar issues), please add your comments to this thread and we’ll do our best to find specific solutions for you. As others have indicated, in this case the lowest-cost solution is likely to be running the channel via your laptop to the TV (potentially the cost of a cable) or a new set top box, which are available from around $40.

Of course, we would much prefer that our appliances remain functional into perpetuity or for long periods of time. What is reasonable is not always an easy question to answer, but while this is a very specific issue occurring to you now, the problem of balancing obsolete products with technological advances is not new and probably not something we will solve on a societal level in the short term unfortunately. I hope though, you can appreciate that we’ve done our best to help you out with this issue and my apologies that we weren’t able to find you a solution that is free from cost or effort.


(This issue is affecting me too. No more Viceland for me. No World Movies for me. All their promotion of the new channel is therefore a joke. After an auto-tune, Viceland disappeared. I assume the device knows that it can’t deal with the channels. To forestall a question, the device is more than 8 years old. Still disappointing though and still ultimately wasteful for me and wasteful for the environment.)

I am curious as to how someone can know what the broadcast parameters are. I can see that anyone can study the manual of the device that they have but, taking the example above, how would anyone know that the replacement SBS channels are “MPEG-4”? You can’t check a manual to see whether the device has a certain specification unless you know what you are checking for. It would be nice if the device would give a decent error message but that is not the case. No message at all. Channel just disappeared.

Why do you emphasise “streaming”? These channels have completely disappeared. Can’t view in real time. Can’t record. Can’t play back later. I suspect just no support of MPEG-4 at all. Can’t decode at all. Can’t process at all.

Um, it only went live yesterday. Give it time. Consider this a complaint. :slight_smile:


FWIW I have a number of Tv related devices including a Beyonwiz U4 that we are Very Happy with. All the devices picked up the change to SBS from Viceland (SD) to World Movies (HD) no worries, except the U4. The U4 would show World Movies as a service it scanned but would neither play it nor show it in the EPG. It appeared that the U4 had an internal problem updating the service from SD to HD.

The folks at Beyonwiz could not replicate the problem and spent about 30 minutes on the phone with me trying to isolate the problem but we did not find it and moved on to a factory reset. Eureka, although I had to reset all the customisations which were many. nb. Although we did a configuration backup prior to the reset, as part of the troubleshooting we found when the backup was reloaded the problem with SBS World Movies returned, so had to go from scratch.

This sbs page explains it.

If anyone has a device that is HD compatible but does not pick up a new service properly, try (after a configuration backup) factory reset. It might be the answer.

As for age of device, our oldest TV is from 2009 and is fully HD happy so check the specs of your device. It is not age alone.


My device is definitely HD compatible. It receives, plays and records channels that are 1080i (i.e. the maximum for HD broadcast TV as I understand it).

The SBS page doesn’t clearly distinguish between on the one hand HD v. SD (resolution) and on the other hand MPEG-2 v. MPEG-4 (encoding). I do need to check the manual for my device to confirm that it does not support MPEG-4, which may be the problem here.

Audio encoding is a whole other can of worms.

Update: Manual says MPEG-4 is OK. Will have to see how much work a factory reset would be. :frowning: However at this stage I have no idea why SBS is fail.