Digital TV available to remote Central and Eastern Australia

15 December, 2010 by IF

Press release from the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Stephen Conroy said the full benefits of Australia’s transition to digital-only free to air television would be available to people living in remote areas of Central and Eastern Australia from today.


“The Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) service is now available to households throughout the Remote Central and Eastern Australia TV licence area,” Senator Conroy said.

“Households that rely on satellite for their TV reception, or which cannot receive adequate signals from terrestrial broadcasts, will be able to access the full range of ABC, SBS and commercial digital TV channels, as well as a dedicated local news channel, from the new VAST digital TV satellite service.”

“This represents an historic shift in services for satellite free-to-air television viewers,” Senator Conroy said.

“Viewers moving from the old Remote Area Broadcasting Service (RABS) to VAST will go from having only four analog TV channels with limited local content to receiving the same number of TV channels as viewers in capital cities, as well as access to local commercial news for the first time.”

The Gillard Government is providing $375.4 million over 12 years to provide transmission of the full suite of digital free-to-air channels from VAST.

For current RABS satellite viewers, the new VAST set top box can be connected to existing satellite dishes.

The VAST service has been available to viewers in the Mildura/Sunraysia since June, and to viewers in the regional South Australia and Broken Hill TV licence areas since September.

From today, VAST is available for viewers in the Remote Central and Eastern Australia TV licence area, which includes regions of the Northern Territory, South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

VAST is expected to become available to viewers in remote Western Australia early in 2011.

Senator Conroy said around 130,000 households in more than 700 regional and remote communities that rely on community operated self help analog TV transmitters would be eligible for government assistance to switch to the new satellite service.

“The Satellite Subsidy Scheme will provide a subsidy of between $400 and $700 for eligible households and is being progressively rolled out as part of the digital switchover program,” Senator Conroy said.

“Under the Scheme, a high definition satellite set top box, satellite dish and cabling will be supplied and installed by a government-contracted installer. Households will be required to make a one-off contribution of between $200 and $350 for the installation.”

The Executive Director of the Digital Switchover Taskforce Andy Townend said the Satellite Subsidy Scheme is currently open for regional Victoria and will be made available for households in remote and regional Queensland from 20 April 2011.

“The Scheme will operate in Remote South Australia from September 2011, and New South Wales from November 2011. Households in the Northern Territory, Tasmania and Western Australia will have access to the Subsidy during 2012.”

Mr Townend encouraged households that are thinking of converting to the VAST service, and in particular those in remote and regional areas that rely on community-operated self help transmitters, to contact the Digital Switchover Taskforce to check whether they might be eligible for assistance through the Satellite Subsidy Scheme.

“Our website features a special tool – mySwitch – that can help you predict the digital TV coverage at your house, and whether you can expect to receive TV from terrestrial broadcasts, or whether you may need to consider using the VAST service,” Mr Townend said.