Rural retailer caught out by digital TV switchover

By Patrick Avenell

BALONNE, QLD: A regional retailer has complained that he was misled over when the digital switchover would occur in his area. He’s been caught short on stock, and thinks the Government should be doing more.

Brett Nosse from Balonne Electrical, a Betta store, told Current.com.au that after receiving a provisional switch-on date later in the year for the St George area of southwest Queensland, he learnt without warning that ABC and SBS had begun broadcasting.

“We were getting absolutely no information about digital TV; they couldn’t even tell us when they were switching on or anything like that,” said Nosse.

“Well, shock and horror! They’ve actually switched them on yesterday [18/6/9], so you’ll find a lot of the regional areas coming on soon.”

Nosse reported that the St George area was now receiving ABC’s 1 and 2 channels, and ABC HD; SBS 1 and 2, and SBS HD. The region is still not receiving Channel Ten.

With the new stations coming to a region starved of free-to-air variety, there has been an increase in demand for TVs with built-in tuners and HD set-top-boxes. Nosse reported that he has been affected by stock issues.

“[We had] no set top boxes whatsoever because it wasn’t supposed to kick in until late July, early August. Digital TV, we’ve got plenty of.

“It would have been nice if we’d actually had some set top boxes; I would have liked even two weeks to get some stock in.”

Meanwhile, Nosse reported that consumer electronics retail had been quiet in his area recently. The draught that has affected many agricultural communities has hit Balonne, with Nosse saying that his status as the only retailer in the area has thus far saved the business.

“It’s pretty quiet, but we’re paying the bills and that’s sort of about it. If there were two stores we’d be dead, we’d be virtually bankrupt, both of us, but it’s still pretty tight because people just don’t have the money at the moment.”

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Read the Government’s response here.

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