Country retailers set to benefit from new Government TV scheme

By Patrick Avenell

CANBERRA, ACT: Regional Australians will gain access to the complete range of free to air TV stations, including the new digital stations, under new scheme announced by the Federal Government, according to the Minister for the Digital TV Switchover, Stephen Conroy. This new service has the potential to stimulate sales of new televisions at the retail level, as some viewers will be gaining access to channels for the first time.

Conroy last night announced a $375 million, 12-year plan to launch a new satellite service to furnish regional Australians with more television stations. Currently, some large regional centres, such as south central Queensland, don’t have access to major networks, such as Channel Ten.

Under this new scheme and satellite, all Australians are expected to receive access to the main FTA channels, and their digital sister stations. These channels include Go!, OneHD, 7TWO and ABC2.

"For many years, poor television reception has troubled some residents in regional and remote areas of Australia,” Senator Conroy said.

"The new satellite service will bring to those viewers the range of television services long enjoyed by Australians in capital cities.

"It will ensure that viewers who are unable to receive terrestrial television services are not left behind in the coming switchover to digital.”

The new satellite service will be called VAST, which stands for Viewer Access Satellite Television service.

"The VAST service will include the main standard definition channels providing Seven, Nine and Ten network programs, high definition channels, and new digital channels including GO!, 7TWO and OneHD. All national broadcaster channels will be available including ABC1, ABC2, ABC3, the forthcoming ABC news channel, SBS ONE and SBS TWO."

"The VAST service will also provide a dedicated news channel containing the local news content of the regional commercial television broadcasters from all regions of Eastern Australia.

"As a result, all Australians watching the satellite service will be able to see locally relevant news. The Western Australian broadcasters will deliver their regional news services as they do at present."

"The new satellite service is a key element of the Government’s strategy for the switchover to digital television in Australia which commences in the Mildura/Sunraysia area on 30 June 2010 and concludes at the end of 2013."

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