Know the Lingo

Confused? Dont be...

Here is a handy glossary of terms that can help explain what some of the terminology is:


Analogue is the old way of transmitting television signals. Analogue TV reception can be affected by signal reflections (ghosting) and noise interference (speckles or snow on the picture).


Digital is a new way of transmitting television signals. Sound and picture is converted into a digital information stream before being transmitted. Digital signals can transmit sound and picture plus additional services such as onscreen TV guides. Homes can receive digital television from land-based towers, satellites or via cable.

Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT)

This is one of three ways that homes can receive digital television. Digital terrestrial television signals are transmitted through a network of land-based towers. Most homes in New Zealand (86 per cent) already have access to this free-to-air service. [Please click here for further details.] You will need a UHF antenna and set-top box or a television with Digital Free to Air built in to receive DTT transmissions.

Cable TV

A cable network delivers television through cable networks. In New Zealand, TelstraClear provides this service in Wellington and Christchurch.

Digital reception

Reception of one of the digital transmission services (Digital Free to Air HD, Digital Free to Air satellite, SKY or TelstraClear cable). This requires either a set-top box or a digital set-top box with an appropriate antenna (UHF aerial or satellite dish).


A Personal Video Recorder/Digital Video Recorder is a device which records and stores video in a digital format. Storage devices can include a built-in/external hard drive, USB flash drives, SD cards or other peripheral devices. Some Digital Free to Air set-top boxes can also record and store data. It is important to note that not all DVRS have digital tuners. If yours doesn’t, it won’t work without a set-top box after your region has gone digital.


Videocassette Recorders allow the recording of a television programme on tape for playback later. VCRs can be used to record programmes from an analogue transmission or a digital set-top box, but the quality is generally inferior to that of a PVR/DVR. In order to continue using your VCR after your region has gone digital, you will need to connect it to a separate set-top box. However, you may find it more convenient to purchase a new PVR.

Set-top box/decoder

A set-top box/decoder is a device that converts digital signals so they can be watched on nearly any television. Different kinds of set-top boxes are available depending on whether you use a satellite dish or a UHF aerial to receive your television signal.

Satellite dish

A circular type of antenna designed to receive signals from a satellite. These must be accurately aligned and are typically used for receiving SKY or Digital Free to Air services.

Coax (Coaxial cable)

A cable used to connect an aerial or receiving device to a set-top box or television, and sometimes between a set-top box and a television receiver.

A-V leads

Audio-video leads. Cabling used between accessory equipment (e.g. set-top box, TB, Personal Video Recorder and Video Cassette Recorders) and a television receiver. These leads provide a higher quality connection than using a coaxial cable.

Integrated digital TV

Television sets featuring in-built UHF digital tuners. This means a viewer does not require a set-top box to watch digital television as long as they live in a DTT area and have the correct aerial.


A SCART is a kind of cable which can connect TVs to set-top boxes.

UHF Aerial

An aerial that receives “Ultra High Frequency” signals. These aerials are used to receive the analogue transmissions of Maori Television, Prime and Trackside, and are also used to receive the Digital Free to Air HD digital service.

VHF Aerial

An aerial that receives ‘Very High Frequency’ signals. These are physically larger than UHF aerials and may not work after your region has gone digital.


Television that requires users to pay a subscription for access to programming. New Zealand’s pay-TV providers, SKY and TelstraClear, provide services using satellite and cable respectively.

Free-to-air (FTA)

Television content that is available to viewers with suitable equipment without further or ongoing charges. In New Zealand, the Digital Free to Air HD and Digital Free to Air satellite services are available free to air.


‘High Definition’, or HDTV, refers to the quality of the television picture. The Digital Free to Air HD service provides HD content on some programmes. SKY also provides HD services. Each service provider can determine the particular HD format they use.

Frequencies (or radio frequencies)

A term used to describe the airwaves used for radio communications. Broadcasting services (both radio and television) use distinct portions (frequencies) of the radio-frequency spectrum. Services such as cellular, mobile radio also use the radio frequency spectrum.


Electronic Programme Guide. An onscreen menu selected by the viewer that displays scheduling information for television, radio and other programme content. EPG’s are provided on digital, but not analogue television transmissions.

Internet TV

An online service where broadcasters make their content available to internet users as they request it. An example is TVNZ On Demand or I-SKY.