An article was published recently in the Bingara Advocate entitled, "Are you ready for digital TV?" The article below was written in response to it by Nerida O’Loughlin, Executive Director of the Digital Switchover Taskforce.
Digital Switch-over explained
I refer to the letter ‘Digital TV reception’ published on 15 August 2012. I would like to provide your readers with some information about digital TV in Bingara and the new Government-funded Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) service.
Bingara is in the North West Slopes and Plains area of the northern NSW switchover region, which is set to switch to digital-only TV on 27 November 2012.
Some people in the Bingara area will receive variable TV coverage from the Upper Namoi TV tower, 62 kilometres south west of town at Mount Dowe. Other people in the area may not be able to receive adequate coverage from Upper Namoi because of terrain obstructions (such as hills and trees) blocking the signal. The best option for these people is the Government’s Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) service.
VAST is available to people across Australia who cannot access all the digital free-to-air TV services in their area from a local tower. VAST provides all the free-to-air digital channels, and a dedicated local news channel; providing people in Bingara with access to local news from Tamworth as well as other areas in NSW.
Converting to VAST requires a satellite dish and VAST set-top box. The retail cost for a high definition VAST set-top box is about $280. A 65cm satellite dish is about $100.
Installing VAST is a one-off expense and there are no ongoing subscription or other costs involved. People already getting their TV through the Aurora direct-to-home satellite service can usually re-use their existing dish and cabling.
There may be some people in Bingara eligible to receive VAST equipment and installation at no cost through the Household Assistance Scheme.
If you are eligible, you should have been sent a letter from the Department of Human Services inviting you to apply. If you think you may be eligible you should call the Department of Human Services on 1800 556 443.
Finally I would like to clarify the issue raised in the letter about the Warialda TV tower.
The broadcasters have elected to upgrade the Warialda TV tower from analog to digital. The choice of sites to be converted to digital is a matter for broadcasters who fund the conversions themselves.
The Government has funded the VAST service as a key element of the digital switchover program to ensure all Australians can watch the full suite of digital TV services, wherever they live. There are already over 84,000 household across Australia accessing VAST.
I encourage anyone with questions to visit our Digital Ready Website www.digitalready.gov.au or call the Digital Ready Information Line 1800 20 10 13 today.