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Sun could overshadow RWC games

Rugby fans watching the World Cup at home could have their live coverage disrupted by a natural phenomenon related to the position of the sun.

All channels broadcasting live matches next month – Sky Television, TV One, TV3, Maori TV and Te Reo – will have a complete loss of their broadcast signal due to sun and satellite positioning.

Sun outages happen during the summer and winter equinoxes in April and September, when day and night are of equal length.

The phenomenon occurs when the satellite passes directly between the antenna on earth and the sun. All World Cup broadcasters share the same satellite – Optus D1.

Sun outages would hit regions at slightly different times but disruptions would last for a quarter of an hour each day, for a fortnight, TVNZ Transmission services manager Wayne Huggard told NZPA.

Viewers who had a standard satellite-dish would experience outages between September 4 and September 12. The peak outage would be at 1.20pm at on September 8, and last for 14 minutes, he said.

The World Cup kicks off on September 9, when New Zealand play Tonga at Eden Park.

A pool match between Scotland and Romania on September 10 at 1pm has been scheduled during a sun outage.

Transmission of digital television to households with UHF aerials would be uninterrupted, as they did not rely on a satellite for transmission.

Viewers with traditional analogue aerials and those who received television through TelstraClear would not be affected.

TelstraClear spokesperson Gary Bowering said it transmitted Sky Sport by hybrid-fibre cable fed directly from Sky Television. Sun outages were not an issue, as a satellite was not required for its service.

“That’s the advantage of non-satellite transmission,” he said.

TV3 Transmission Manager Ray Smith said homes with larger satellite dishes would be more prone to sun outages.

“Sun is a source of noise – it overcomes the signal,” he said.

“A larger dish would make it worse – the sharper the focus the more it will see the interference from the sun.”


By Shawn McAvinue of NZPA


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