Regional Australia gets digital TV boost

People living in blackspot areas have just got some good news with the Rudd Government announcing a new satellite service to provide better quality digital TV services for regional Australia.

According to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, this service will allow regional Australians to access the same quality services as city areas.

“All regional Australians will now receive the same television services as people in the cities,” he said.

“This is a fantastic outcome for people in regional Australia, many of whom have received limited television services for many years.”

Conroy was confident the new service will vastly improve all aspects of digital TV for regional areas.

“This historic decision will dramatically improve the choice and quality of television services for regional Australia as we move towards digital switchover,” he said.

“For the first time, all free-to-air digital television services, including the original three commercial and two national channels, as well as new digital services such as ABC2, ABC3, SBS TWO, GO!, 7TWO and ONE HD, will be available to all Australians, no matter where they live.”

The final cost of the new satellite service will be determined after negotiations between broadcasters and service providers have taken place, but the Government has outlined that $40 million per year for four years will be committed to the task.

As a part of the new agreement, broadcasters across Australia will upgrade more than 100 existing regional analogue ‘self-help’ transmission facilities to operate in digital, while the Government will fully fund and build the new digital satellite broadcasting service.

Viewers that currently rely on these ‘self-help’ sites will simply have to install a high definition set-top box to access the entire range of digital television channels on offer. Households that still can’t receive a digital signal after the sites are upgraded will be served by the new satellite. These viewers will have to install a satellite dish to access the full suite of services.

Conroy said that a subsidy will be put in place for eligible households in order for them to upgrade to satellite services.

“The Government will provide a satellite conversion subsidy to eligible households currently served by ‘self-help’ transmission sites which are not upgraded to digital by the broadcasters,” he said.

“This landmark agreement would not be possible without the cooperation of Australia’s free-to-air broadcasters and I would like to acknowledge their constructive approach to digital switchover.”

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