By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: The federal government today backed the introduction of an official labelling scheme for digital TV products in the form of an easily-identifiable symbol to help consumers understand the capabilities of digital TV equipment.

Similar labelling regimes have been introduced overseas, such as the UK’s ‘Digital Tick’ logo which assures consumers that their products will work after the analogue-to-digital television broadcast switchover.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will oversee the introduction of the labelling scheme, which is likely to take the form of an industry code of practice registered with the ACMA.

Details of the scheme and its roll-out have not been announced, but the government pointed to the water and energy labelling schemes for whitegoods as fine examples of successful mandatory labelling.

Products to be labelled will include digital televisions, set-top boxes and digital PVRs.

Samsung Electronics today welcomed the labelling scheme, saying it would give consumers confidence in buying digital TV products and help educate buyers.

“It seems a fairly prudent, practical step to at least warn people that the product they are buying may have a limited lifespan or limited functionality,” Samsung marketing manager – AV, Michael Apte, told today.

“The good news is that our research shows that consumers want to switch to digital – there is a genuine demand for the product – it is just about education and making sure the system works.”

Earlier this year, Sony deputy managing director, Carl Rose, also expressed support for a digital products labelling scheme to assist in consumer education, akin to the Digital Tick used in the UK.

The federal minister for communications, Senator Helen Coonan, today released the $20 million Digital Action Plan (DAP) outlining the government’s strategy for achieving digital switchover.

Senator Coonan also announced the creation of Digital Australia, which will be responsible for implementing the DAP and coordinating switchover.

Speaking at the ACMA annual conference this morning, Senator Coonan said the labeling scheme will be an important part of Digital Australia’s education campaign.

"Every weekend across Australia consumers are wandering around electrical stores buying television equipment they think will last them for years and years," said Senator Coonan, quoted in the West Australian.

"Clearly, consumers must be informed that to continue to receive television in the future they will need to buy a set-top box or at least a television with an in-built digital tuner."