Samsung disappointed with lack of digital deadline

By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Samsung Australia has again expressed disappointment with the federal government’s failure to set a new target for the analogue TV switchoff, claiming certainty is now needed if consumers are to be compelled to make leap into the digital era.

In March this year, Samsung called on the government to set a new date for switchoff when Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, released a digital TV discussion paper and suggested the original 2008 goal was unrealistic.

In Senator Coonan’s new media policy released last month, the federal government suggested switchover would start in metropolitain areas within a two-year period between 2010 to 2012. But Samsung marketing manager – AV, Michael Apte, says the government needs to give industry and consumers a definite target.

“We need a firm timetable to work towards. Our product decisions are made well ahead of the market introduction and we also need time to educate consumers on the change over period. Giving a finite switch off date helps to avoid any consumer confusion,” said Apte.

However, Samsung has welcomed the government’s proposals to introduce multi-channeling in 2009 and end the HD simulcast mandate – measures which could offer consumers two extra channels with distinct programming per commercial network.

Apte says any increase in the amount of digital programming will help to drive the uptake of digital TV.

“The expansion of multi-channeling will offer more compelling digital content to the market,” he said.

“The removal of HD simulcast requirements on the free to air networks allows them to offer new programming not necessarily available to analogue viewers. This new content offers consumers further benefits in upgrading to digital television. While multi-channeling is not likely to drive adoption by itself, it adds to the range of benefits consumers will find on digital TV. Given the fast take-up of HD in-built TV, consumers are clearly adopting digital TV in ever increasing numbers.”

Samsung believes the plan to remove the 1,040 hour a year HD broadcast mandate will not be detrimental to HDTV sales.

“As it stands, the free to air networks are generally broadcasting well in excess of the 1,040 hours required under current legislation. Our information is that they are broadcasting as much HD content as possible. We anticipate this figure will grow over time, rather than reduce.”

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