Australia announces digital TV transition package

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Package to drive digital television transition

The Rudd Government today announced a pilot package to drive the availability of improved television services as Australia makes the transition to digital.

“Digital television delivers many benefits to viewers and this package will help achieve the smoothest possible transition as we switch off analog signals,” said Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

“This package focuses on Australia’s leading digital television region of Sunraysia, centred on the city of Mildura in north-west Victoria, and will ensure that free-to-air digital television is made available to all viewing households.”

The suite of measures includes:

  • a package of in-home assistance to help targeted households
  • a new satellite service to extend access to digital TV
  • working with the local community to improve awareness and understanding of switchover
  • a labelling scheme to help consumers to easily identify digital ready products, and
  • a national call centre and a web site providing switchover information.

The Rudd Government has designed a progressive timetable for digital television switchover starting with Sunraysia in 2010.

“The Government aims to empower the community with the information they require to make the digital television switch.

“We will introduce a labelling scheme to help people identify digital-ready products and services, and we will run an information campaign in the region.

“Switching to digital TV is a straight forward and inexpensive task for the vast majority of Australians, however we understand that some viewers may need practical, in-home assistance to make the move to digital.

“That is why the Government will provide an assistance package to households in the Mildura licence area where at least one resident is a recipient of the full Aged Pension, Disability Support Pension, Carers’ Payment or equivalent payment from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.”

The pilot switchover package also includes the establishment of a new satellite service, which, with the cooperation of broadcasters, will extend viewer access to digital TV throughout the Mildura licence area.

“Some Australians live in areas where the broadcasters have not built transmitters or the terrain prevents signals reaching them, but this is no reason for them to be denied access to TV,” Senator Conroy said.

Senator Conroy said the Digital Switchover Taskforce will work closely with the broadcasters, retailers and antenna installers in the Mildura area to drive digital TV take-up by consumers.

The lessons learned from the switchover in Mildura will help to inform the approach to the broader digital switchover around the country.

“Digital switchover is important for all Australians as it not only provides access to 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,” Senator Conroy said.