Australia - Conroy sets Digital TV switchover timetable

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today released the timetable for the switchover to digital television.

“The digital TV revolution is in full swing and Australians now know when they will need to be digital-ready,” Senator Conroy said.

“The digital television switchover is a challenge on the scale of the 1966 decimal currency change. The Rudd Government’s region-by-region approach will ensure Australia is best placed to meet the 31 December 2013 deadline for analog switch-off.”

The Victorian region surrounding Mildura, which leads the nation with digital TV take-up, will lead with analog switch-off in the first half of 2010.

Under this timetable analog broadcasting will cease in the Mildura/Sunraysia district in a window between 1 January and 30 June 2010.

“The regional broadcasting licence covering the Sunraysia district in northern Victoria has the highest penetration of digital TV in Australia, at over 70 per cent of homes, so it makes sense to start there,” Senator Conroy said.

“This particular community is already well informed about the benefits of digital TV after the third commercial network entered the market in 2006 and drove take-up with digital-only broadcasts.”

“Depending on local conditions and community feedback I will set the final date within the switch-off window next year. Importantly people in this community now have plenty of notice to be digital-ready.”

“The Digital Switchover Taskforce will be working with broadcasters, retailers, antenna installers and the wider Sunraysia community throughout 2009 to ensure information is available to assist people to join the digital TV revolution,” Senator Conroy said.

The Taskforce is developing an extensive labelling scheme for digital-ready TV equipment and services and will launch a communication campaign to raise awareness of the label to assist consumers early next year.

Broken Hill in NSW and Mt Gambier, Riverland and Spencer Gulf in South Australia will turn off analog broadcasts in the second half on 2010 and the rest of regional Victoria in the first half of 2011.

Regional Queensland, excluding remote western and northern areas, will switch-off analog in the second half of 2011. The major regional centres of NSW will switch-off analog in 2012.

Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast, Perth and Tasmania will switch-off analog in the first half of 2013 and Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, remote western, central and eastern Australia will be digital-only by the end of 2013.

“After years of inaction by the previous Government, the Rudd Government has made a firm commitment to digital television switchover and is taking practical action to ensure a smooth transition,” Senator Conroy said.

Digital switchover is important for all Australians as it not only provides access to such things as better picture and sound quality and additional channels but it will also free-up spectrum which can be used for the delivery of new and improved broadcasting and communications services.

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