Digital television must be right for the bush

January 25, 2009

Nationals Senator for New South Wales John Williams has called on the Federal Government to ensure there is a smooth changeover from analog to digital television service in rural and regional Australia.

As part of a staged national switch-over schedule which ends on December 31 2013, the Rudd Labor Government has set a six month window between July 1 and December 31 2012 when the analog signal will be switched off in the Bingara area.

“When in Government the Coalition laid much of the foundation for Australia’s digital television future, which will bring with it many dividends including better picture and sound quality, as well as more free-to-air content for viewers,” Senator Williams said.

“I have previously asked Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Steven Conroy for an assurance that the digital signal would be at least the equal of analog, but his answer was less than convincing.

“My office has received complaints about poor television reception in parts of the Bingara area, and by committing itself to a six month window for the switchover, I am concerned the Government could still leave these areas with poor or no reception at all."

“It needs to offer grants to assist communities to upgrade analog equipment to digital, including self-help transmission sites, eliminate blackspots and also subsidies to assist disadvantaged viewers to purchase a necessary television set-top box.”

 “The Rudd Government reluctantly accepted a Coalition condition which will require a quarterly report to the Parliament out-lining the identification of digital television black-spots in each region across the country and the steps that are being taken to eliminate them before switch-over”, Senator Williams added.

If you have any concerns about digital switch-over, including information about existing digital black-spots, or require additional information please contact Senator Williams’ office on 6721 4500.