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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

News: Labor Announces Satellite Broadcasting to Improve Rural Digital Television Reception

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IMAGEThe Labor Government is set to introduce satellite television  broadcasting as part of a series of infrastructure upgrades to provide digital television to “blackspot” areas.

In a media release published yesterday on the Labor Party website the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Stephen Conroy said "This is a fantastic outcome for people in regional Australia, many of whom have received limited television services for many years."

Senator Conroy also claimed that "All regional Australians will now receive the same television services as people in the cities.” He also mentioned a “dedicated local news channel” in the system.

The cost of the satellite system is yet to be determined, and the Government is promising subsidies to “eligible” households who are not upgraded by the broadcasters.

Digital terrestrial transmitters will also be upgraded as part of the scheme, with new transmitters in Underbool and Ouyen near Mildura to be built. The Mildura licence area will be one of the first affected in the analogue television switch off, with the old signals ceasing prior to June this year.

The Liberal Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Tony Smith MP said in his own media release yesterday that he hopes the scheme “doesn’t end up as yet more Labor pie in the sky.” Smith also suggests that rural viewers should “believe it when they see it.”

A representative of Tony Smith’s office today told One Cuckoo Short of a Nest that it is “too early to say” whether the Liberals would continue with a satellite system if in power or opt for terrestrial upgrades instead. The representative explained that the Liberal party had “not been provided with enough information from Labor” on the details of the plan, including on how the subsidy will work or how much it will cost to upgrade the 100 transmitters involved. When asked if they saw an opposition policy being released on rural digital television services, the representative stated that “there will be a lot of policies released before the next election”, including a “full policy released” on this portfolio.

Free TV Australia’s CEO Julie Flynn has stated in a Free TV media release that “this is a big win for regional viewers who will lead the way in the transition to digital-only services.” The media release also states that “Free TV broadcasters are pleased” with the Government funding of a satellite service for those unable to receive terrestrial services.

Flynn also states that “Free TV will continue to work with the Government to deliver a smooth transition to digital services for all Australian viewers”.


To view a list of current Australian free-to-air television channels, see “What’s On The Box?”.


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