Senator Stephen Conroy’s office responds to disgusted retailer

By Patrick Avenell

EPPING, VIC: The office of the Minister in charge of the Digital Switchover, Senator Stephen Conroy, has responded to this morning’s disgusted Betta retailer, outlining what the Government is doing for rural Australians regarding the move to digital transmission.

In a statement to Current.com.au, the Minister’s spokesperson said the analogue switch-off in remote central and eastern Australia will be in the second half of 2009, but no date has been confirmed. He did say that “ample notice” will be given for country areas to prepare themselves.

“The Government’s digital television switchover timetable sets out a region-by-region timetable for the transition to digital television, allowing Australians ample notice to become ready for analogue switch-off,” said the spokesperson.

In preparation for the switchover, and to see what unique factors influence it in rural areas, the Government is undertaking a digital switchover pilot program in the Mildura region of Victoria. This test will incorporate in-home assistance for targeted households, a new satellite service to extend access to digital television, a labelling scheme, community feedback and telephone and website information services.

“The Government will closely monitor digital switchover in the Mildura region in order to inform decisions on switchover for the remainder of Australia,” said the spokesperson.

As for the lack of information from the Government, a situation that “disgusts” Balonne Electrical director Brette Nosse, the Minister outlined the following consultation strategy.

“The Digital Switchover Taskforce is actively engaged in industry consultation, including with retailers, on the planning for Australia’s digital transition.

“To consult widely with both industry and the public, the Taskforce will release a discussion paper on the provision of digital television services to communities in areas of signal deficiency by mid 2009.”

 The office of the Minister said retailers who required more information about the switchover should visit the official website.

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