Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity
Regional Victoria to switch off analog TV in fifty days
Almost half a million households across regional Victoria will make the historic transition to digital-only free-to-air television in fifty days' time, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy said today.
Launching the fifty day countdown to digital switchover for regional Victoria in Ballarat today, Senator Conroy said the switch to digital-only television represented a significant milestone in the history of television broadcasting in the State.
"In another fifty days, the analog signals used to inform and entertain regional Victorian households since the 1960s will be switched off for good, and all free-to-air TV will be transmitted in digital only," Senator Conroy said.
Senator Conroy said regional Victoria was well prepared for the switchover to digital TV, which provides better sound and picture quality and greater program choice with access to new channels.
"By the end of 2010, 81 per cent of households across regional Victoria had converted to digital TV. This represented a huge increase on the 45 per cent of households that were digital ready in early 2009," Senator Conroy said.
"As of February 2011, the number of digital ready households across regional Victoria was closer to nine out of ten."
"Indeed, households in places such as Bonnie Doon, Howqua, Hopetoun, Boolarra, Jeeralang and Yinnar have already switched to digital-only TV through the upgrading of their local TV transmitters in preparation for the switchover," Senator Conroy said.
Almost 20,000 households have been converted to digital through the Government's Household Assistance Scheme.
"This Scheme ensures that eligible households, including those in receipt of the maximum rate of the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension, Carer Payment, Department of Veterans' Affairs Service Pension or Income Support Supplement, who need some extra practical help to switch to digital TV, are able to enjoy the benefits of digital TV along with other regional Victorian households," Senator Conroy said.
The Government is also assisting households without any terrestrial TV coverage to be receive the full benefits of digital television through the new Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) service. This includes around 2,500 households who have relied on community-operated 'self help' analog transmitters that are not being upgraded to digital.
"These households are eligible for a $400 subsidy to help with the cost of moving over to the new satellite service, which will give them access to all of the free to air digital channels provided by the ABC, SBS and commercial broadcasters, as well as a dedicated local news channel," Senator Conroy said.
Senator Conroy said four Digital Switchover Liaison Officers were working with their local communities across the state, and the Digital Switchover Taskforce in his department would continue to be active across the state to raise awareness about how to get ready for the switchover on 5 May 2011.
"I strongly encourage people who are looking for more information or advice on getting ready for the switchover to contact the Digital Ready Information Line on 1800 20 10 13 or visit www.digitalready.gov.au," Senator Conroy said.
"In fifty days' time, the way television is broadcast across regional Victoria will change forever, and we want to ensure that all households are ready for this important milestone."
Date: 17 March 2011
Contact: Minister's Office (02) 6277 7480