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
Earlier access to digital TV through VAST
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today welcomed the passage through Parliament of a Bill that will provide more than 100,000 Australians with earlier access to digital television through the Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) service.
The Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Digital Television) Bill 2012 allows eligible communities immediate access to VAST, which provides 16 digital free-to-air television channels.
"Before this change, Australians could not access the VAST service until six months before analog television was switched off in their area. If they live in an open access area, they can now do so immediately," Senator Conroy said.
Open access areas will be identified by commercial free-to-air broadcasters in consultation with the Australian Communication and Media Authority. It will include parts of metropolitan, regional and remote Australia.
"This Government is committed to ensuring all Australians have access to the same number of television channels, no matter where they live," Senator Conroy said.
"This Bill is a practical step to allow eligible people to start enjoying the full suite of digital channels through the VAST service without delay. More than 100,000 Australians are still expected to connect to VAST," Senator Conroy said.
The Bill also allows for the VAST service to be provided to certain external Territories of Australia. This means viewers living on Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Coral Sea Islands or Norfolk Island will be to access the VAST service if they wish.
Viewers are encouraged to check the Digital Ready website www.digitalready.gov.au and use the mySwitch tool, to check their eligibility and whether the VAST service may be needed.
Date: 22 June 2012
Contact: Adam Sims 0408 258 457