Regional WA’s two commercial networks, GWN7 and WIN, have announced the date that their respective networks will be switching on digital transmission in Bunbury and the South West region of the state.
The switch on, scheduled for 28 July, will not only see the launch of digital transmission of the primary channels GWN7 and WIN but will also include Ten West and multi-channels 7TWO, 7mate, GO!, GEM, One and Eleven.
The commercial channels will join the existing local digital broadcasts of ABC and SBS.
Although GWN7, WIN and Ten West launched digital broadcasts in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Mawson, Mingenew and Karratha a year ago, their transmissions included only the primary channels.
Bunbury will be the first market in Regional WA to receive the extra commercial multi-channels, with the rollout expected to be completed across the state by early 2012.
GWN7 Chief Executive Officer Doug Edwards welcomed the new digital era for local viewers:
“Regional WA viewers will now be able to enjoy the whole digital experience. Put simply – this means more choice of free-to-air television with superior quality picture and sound. With the addition of 7TWO and 7mate, we are now offering greater choice for our audience”.
WIN’s manager of Legal, Regulatory & Network Affairs Shirley Brown said the digital launch brings some equality to viewers when compared to their city cousins:
“The roll out of the full suite of digital channels has been a long wait for the viewers of regional WA, we are pleased that the wait is nearly over and viewers will receive the same services as viewers in Perth have received for some time.”
Regional Western Australia is one of the last markets in Australia to receive digital broadcasts of commercial television – more than a decade after the first digital television broadcasts were launched in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. As a result, Regional WA currently has the lowest conversion rate to digital television – with only 58 per cent of households currently converted to digital television, well below the national average of 79 per cent.
Regional WA is set to complete the transition to digital television with the shutdown of all existing analogue signals in the second half of 2013.