SBS HD and Viceland changes to MPEG4

Are you not receive SBS HD, Viceland or SBS World Movies anymore?
These SBS reception problems are most likely due to the switch from MPEG 2 to a newer encoding format, MPEG4.
As an antenna installer in Perth, I often am required to diagnose these issues and explain to the customer that their TV antenna may not be at fault

What is MPEG2 and MPEG4?

MPEG (Motion Picture Experts Group) is an organization that originally developed the most commonly used encoding method
for video, MPEG2 and later MPEG4.  It’s basically a digital method of storing and transmitting video data such as on computer files, DVDs.  This same encoding format is
contained within the signal that your TV antenna picks up

When digital TV was introduced into Australia in 2001, all video streams contained within FTA transmissions were MPEG2, as such most televisions and set top boxes
supplied and sold in the Australian market were able to decode MPEG2 and not MPEG4.  MPEG4 is a newer version of the MPEG encoding format that allows higher compression with similar picture quality.  This allows more channels to be transmitted on the same frequency from the same network, which is important for HD content.

In 2015, the racing channel got introduced that used MPEG4, this was the first channel in Australia to use MPEG4 encoding.  Although it was not very commonly watched,
most viewers had no issue or cause for concern.  Starting from 2017 to 2019, SBS services began to switch from MPEG2 to MPEG4, the exact dates varied throughout different regions of Australia.  This switch happened in Perth in 2019.  Many viewers would come home unable to watch SBS HD, World Movies, and Viceland.  Generally televisions 8 years or older are highly unlikely to be MPEG4 compatible, however it is advised to verify this yourself for your specific TV

How to diagnose the problem

Standard definition SBS channels would still be viewable.  The table below shows all SBS channels and MPEG standard used as of July 2020.
To determine whether your TV is able to receive channels with an MPEG4 stream, go through the following checklist

1.  Perform an automatic channel scan, this has been shown in some isolated cases to work

2.  Check if your TV is able to receive any SBS channels at all including the SD channels, example SBS One (Channel 3).  If you cannot receive any SBS services, your problem is not related to MPEG4 compatibility.  If you can receive SD SBS channels, and cannot receive any of the HD channels 31-32, then MPEG4 compatibility is your issue

3.  Visit your TV manufacturers website and contact the support line with your TV model number to get confirmation.  Ask if a software update is available for your TV as certain models have software updates to enable MPEG4 compatibility

4. Google search your TV model number along with the word MPEG4, example – Samsung UA40H6400 MPEG4.  This may bring up search results that relate to your TV model and MPEG4 compatibility, such as on manufacturer websites, or discussion forums which can often contain helpful answers.

If it has been determined that your current TV set is not able to decode MPEG4, a digital set top box can be purchased allowing it to be used to receive both MPEG2 and MPEG4 channels and re-use your existing TV simply as a display.  If you currently are a subscriber of Foxtel using an IQ3 or IQ4 set top box, you can plug your coax cable from the TV antenna outlet into your Foxtel box which will be able to receive all channels, MPEG2 and MPEG4