By Claire Reilly

SYDNEY, NSW: The pricing of the Federal Government’s Set-Top Box Scheme is “heavy”, according to JB Hi-Fi CEO Terry Smart.

In an interview with, Smart agreed with Harvey Norman and Ruslan Kogan, saying there is a considerable gulf between the cost of an installation and the $350 being allocated per set top box, as outlined in the 2011 federal budget.

“You can get a box for anywhere from circa $50 and have it installed for around $69 [with] training on top of that. Obviously there’s further support and ongoing support that needs to be calculated in to that. But yes, we felt it was a little bit on the heavy side. We tend to agree with a lot of other retailers who have made comment on it.”

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The Federal Government’s Household Assistance Scheme provides a means-tested assistance package of $350 to eligible households, in order to cover the cost of purchasing and installing a digital set top box.

Senator Stephen Conroy, the Minister responsible for the rollout of digital television across Australia, released a fact sheet on 13 May 2011 outlining how the $350 figure is being spent. The Minister said that this is an average figure that includes a 12-month warranty and a consumer hotline.

Terry Smart said that as the nation switches to digital television, set top boxes remain a focus for JB Hi-Fi.

“We’re conscious of the switch to digital, or the switch-off of the analogue network around the country, so it really is a state-by-state and sometimes store-by-store proposition on where you need to be really focused on it, in areas where the digital is approaching,” said Smart. “The whole visual category remains a great opportunity with the switch off of the analogue [network].”