NZ contest sparks hunt to find oldest TV

A competition to find New Zealand's oldest television had received almost 300 entries from Invercargill to Whangarei when it closed on Wednesday.

The competition, run by Going Digital at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, aims to spread the word that New Zealand is going to digital TV and letting people know what they need to make the switch.

The oldest telly competition has encouraged New Zealanders to rummage through their garages and attics for the oldest working TV set, or to snap up vintage sets that were sitting unnoticed in second-hand stores.

Going Digital national manager Greg Harford would not give NZPA any clues about the likely winner.

It has been 70 years since the world's first television broadcast -- if experimental television is excluded.

Black and white TV broadcasts started in New Zealand in 1960, with colour television airing from 1973. With 51 years of television in New Zealand, the competition is bound to rake in some dust-collecting TVs.

An expert judging panel has the job of identifying the winning set, which will in June be converted to digital.

The competition winner will receive a home theatre system, complete with a television with an in-built Freeview receiver and internet video. The winner will be announced on TVNZ's Breakfast show on Friday, 3 June.

Harford was thrilled with the response to the contest.

"We've been delighted with the number of entries and the level of interest shown in the competition. New Zealanders have searched far and wide for some of the earliest televisions and it's been fascinating to hear their stories," he said.

"Now we're looking forward to showing New Zealand that almost every TV set can go digital, including those with only wires for aerials.

"Making New Zealand's oldest working television go digital will prove to viewers that there is no need to go out and purchase a new TV."

Manawatu-Wanganui turned up the most antique-style TVs, with 43 emerging. Waikato was next, with 41, then Auckland (36), Canterbury and Wellington (both 26) and Hawke's Bay (19). Marlborough (three) and Tasman (two), tailed the entry list.

Going Digital has set up a website to outline regional differences, with a step by step guide to finding out what is the best method of digital television for each situation.

Households with Freeview, TelstraClear or Sky already watching digital TV will not be affected or need to do anything, unless they have other sets which have not gone digital. Freeview compatible devices such as TiVo or PlayStation 3's Play TV have also already made the switch to digital.

The switch to digital television will begin with Hawke's Bay and the West Coast in September 2012 and continue region by region until November 2013. The Going Digital website provides a map showing when areas will make the switch.

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