stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Wed Jan 6 10:06:38 AEDT 2010

by Emma Chalmers  January 06, 2010 12:00am

ALL Australian homes will have access to 16 free digital TV channels 
within the next four years under a plan to bring satellite coverage to 
the regions.

The Federal Government yesterday announced a satellite service for 
viewers in regional blackspot areas as part of the analog signal switch-
off at the end of 2013.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the satellite signal – which 
will cost $40 million a year – was both a safety net and a future-
proofing measure to cater for population growth.

"Our commitment is to ensure that all Australians get access to the same 
level of services," he said yesterday.

"All regional Australians will now receive the same television services 
as people in the cities."

About 247,000 Australians are not reached by a broadcaster-run TV tower 
and 155,000 of those rely on local council-run services many of which, he 
said, were held together with "sticky tape".

Under the plan, the TV broadcasters have agreed to upgrade 100 of the 600 
local council towers to provide homeowners with digital TV via a set-top 

Residents in areas not upgraded will be able to get a satellite service 
and receive a $300 subsidy to pay half of the cost of installing a 
satellite dish.

The list of sites to be upgraded is under negotiation between the 
Government and broadcasters.

Pensioners who need to install a set-top box will also get in-home 
assistance from the Government.

Homes in blackspot areas will have to pay the full $600 cost, but the 
Government is not sure as yet how many will be affected.

"When they flick the switch it will be come apparent because you'll have 
a blank screen," Senator Conroy said.

The first Queensland regions to make the digital switch from mid-2011 
will be Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville, Cairns and Toowoomba.

Senator Conroy said regional Australians would still be able to watch 
local news services with a dedicated local channel included in the 

"Digital television means new channels and new content and better sound 
and better picture quality," he said.

The switch-off will also allow the Government to potentially reap more 
than a billion dollars from the sale of the remaining wireless spectrum, 
which will be auctioned off before 2013.

Senator Conroy said it was an "important national asset" and its auction 
was a "once in a generation opportunity" for new communications services.

The US spectrum sold at auction for $US19 billion ($A21 billion).



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