$6.7 million pledged for ‘digital-ready’ TV labelling

By Chris Nicholls

CANBERRA: The Federal government has announced a $37.9 million strategy to drive Australia’s transition to digital TV, with $6.7 million set aside for a new labeling scheme to inform customers about which television-related products are digital-ready.

The strategy, announced today in Canberra, will be split between various other projects, with $8.5 million going to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to help with technical switchover-related projects, including an evaluation of digital TV transmission and reception throughout Australia.

In addition, $4.8 million will go to a ‘Digital Tracker’ project, to assess issues such as public awareness of the coming switchover, intention of households to convert and actual conversion rates.

To deal with the issue of reception in multi-unit dwellings, $1 million will be spent over two years for research into the problem.

The bulk of the money, though, $16.9 million, will go to the Digital Switchover Taskforce, which will coordinate the switchover program within the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

“The Australian Government is committed to digital television and this funding will help drive a smooth transition,” said Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy.

The Government has also convened an Industry Advisory Group, which consists of broadcasters, retailers, manufacturers, antenna technicians, public and commercial housing agencies, as well as government departments to discuss issues arising from the changeover. The first meeting will be convened on 9 April 2008.

“We need to use the valuable expertise of retailers to provide expert and consistent advice to consumers on what digital solution will best suit their needs,” said Senator Conroy

While details of the new labels have not yet been announced, the concept will show customers whether any equipment they purchase will be compatible with the coming digital TV switchover. They will not differentiate between standard and high definition, though.

Consumer Electronics Suppliers Association spokesperson Brian Douglas said the association was happy with the announcement.

“CESA is very pleased by this strategy launch by Senator Conroy. We’re very happy with the support for a labelling scheme on receivers and digital equipment to indicate that they’ll receive a digital signal.

“This is the Rudd government’s commitment to the switchover and putting money where their mouth is, particularly in giving money to ACMA. So it’s welcome news by industry.”

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