The End of Analog TV Signals on Track for Regional Queensland
Queensland, Australia (News4us.com) May 03, 2011
The move to digital TV is gathering pace with the Gillard Government announcing a switchover date for regional Queensland, and the launch of free to air digital TV services by satellite to viewers in remote and regional Western Australia via the Government-funded View Access Satellite Television (VAST) service.
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, said 506,000 households in regional Queensland across the Wide Bay, Capricornia, Darling Downs, Central Coast and Whitsundays, North Queensland and Far North Queensland switchover regions would switch to digital only free-to-air television on 6 December 2011.
“More than four out of five households in regional Queensland have already converted to digital TV, according to the latest Digital Tracker survey to the end of March 2011,” Senator Conroy said.
“Those households yet to make the switch to digital now have a deadline for when their analog TV signals will be switched off for good.”
Senator Conroy said the switch to digital only television offers improved picture and sound quality and greater program choice with access to new digital channels.
“In the lead-up to the switchover date broadcasters are rolling out new digital TV transmitters to improve the quality of digital TV reception throughout the switchover regions,” Senator Conroy said.
“This includes the upgrading of analog ‘self help’ transmitters to digital in several locations, and the installation of new ‘gap filler’ transmitters in other areas to provide better reception.”
Senator Conroy said that households in regional Queensland that do not have adequate reception of terrestrial digital TV services in their area six months before the switchover – 6 June 2011 – will be able to access the government-funded VAST satellite service to receive the full suite of digital TV channels.
The Household Assistance Scheme will provide practical help to eligible households in regional Queensland to make the switch to digital TV through the supply and installation of a high definition set top box at no cost to eligible recipients. This includes households where a person receives the maximum rate of the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension, Carer Payment, Department of Veterans’ Affairs Service Pension or Income Support Supplement.
The Satellite Subsidy Scheme will be available to assist those regional Queensland households that previously relied on community-operated analog ‘self help’ transmitters for their analog TV and who will receive their digital TV from the VAST satellite service.
Senator Conroy said free to air digital TV channels were now available by satellite for viewers in regional and remote areas of Western Australia who cannot receive terrestrial digital TV.
An agreement between the Government and broadcasters WIN and Prime Television (under joint venture WA Satco Pty Ltd) will provide the VAST service to Western Australia.
All of the digital channels from the ABC and SBS are currently available on VAST nation-wide including ABC2, ABC3, ABC News 24, SBS TWO and SBS HD.
Under the first stage of the agreement, satellite viewers in WA will be able to receive the standard definition commercial channels from WIN, GWN and TEN.
Under stage two, from 30 July 2011, the VAST service will provide all nine standard definition and high definition commercial channels, including the digital-only channels such as ONE HD, Eleven, GO!, Gem, 7TWO and 7mate.
“This is an historic improvement in the quality and choice of free to air TV services for people in regional and remote Western Australia, who will for the first time have access to the same number of channels as is available in capital cities,” Senator Conroy said.
VAST will be available to viewers in Western Australia who cannot receive terrestrial digital TV broadcasts, including those who currently rely on community operated ‘self help’ transmitters that are not being upgraded to digital as part of the switchover program and that cannot receive an adequate digital signal from another transmitter serving their area.
“From October 2012, the Government will provide a subsidy for approximately 32,000 households in Western Australia that currently rely on ‘self help’ towers for their TV to convert to the VAST satellite service,” Senator Conroy said.
“The Government is also providing funding to regional commercial broadcasters to roll out the full suite of digital TV channels by terrestrial broadcast throughout regional and remote Western Australia.
“As a result, all households in regional and remote Western Australia will have access to the same number of digital TV channels as is available in Perth through the digital switchover program.”
Senator Conroy said 79 per cent of households across Australia were now digital ready, according to the latest figures from the Digital Tracker survey for the first quarter of 2011.
“Whether by terrestrial or satellite broadcast, almost four out of five households across Australia has now made the switch to digital TV. This compares to less than half of households which were digital ready just two years ago,” Senator Conroy said.
The Digital Tracker summary report for Quarter 1, 2011 is available from the Digital Ready website at www.digitalready.gov.au
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