The conversion of analogue to digital television continues with the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy announcing that all analogue television services in regional Victoria will be switched off by 5 May 2011.
The switch-off will affect local transmissions of ABC, SBS, Prime, WIN and Southern Cross Ten in the regional markets of Ballarat/Western Victoria, Bendigo/Central Victoria, Shepparton/Goulburn Valley, Gippsland/La Trobe Valley and Albury/Upper Murray. The Mildura/Sunraysia region has already made the transition to digital-only transmission.
In the latest Digital Tracker survey, covering the period April to June this year, approximately 76 per cent of households in the regional Victoria market (excluding Mildura) have converted to digital and 95 per cent of households are aware of the pending switchover from analogue.
In converting transmission infrastructure to digital-only transmission, some smaller transmission sites, including Bonnie Doon and Howqua, will be switching off analogue services later this year, while the areas of Hopetoun, Lorne, Jeeralang/Yinnar South and Boolarra will switch off analogue in February 2011.
Households that will not be able to receive digital television via normal terrestrial transmission, or currently rely on self-funded analogue transmission facilities that will not be converting to digital, will be eligible for access to the satellite-based VAST service, providing access to programming from all networks including the new digital multi-channels. VAST will also include a local news channel.
Households who need to switch to VAST may be eligible for government subsidies, and those on pensions, carers payments or other forms of income support may also qualify for assistance in converting to digital TV through the Household Assistance Scheme.
Regional Victoria is the third market in Australia scheduled for analogue switch-off, following from Mildura/Sunraysia in June this year, and Regional South Australia, scheduled for 15 December.
The Melbourne metropolitan area will lose analogue transmission by the end of 2013.
Information on the digital TV transition, including details on how to access the Satellite Subsidy Scheme or Household Assistance Scheme, can be found at the Digital Ready website or telephone the Digital Switchover Taskforce on 1800201013.