Viewers in regional Australia rejoice….
The Federal Government says you’re going to receive exactly the same TV channels as the folk in the big smoke.
Senator Stephen Conroy today announced that the Government has partnered with regional commercial broadcasters so all Australians can access the same number of TV channels, no matter where they live.
The Government will provide $34 million over four years to regional networks in South Australia, remote and regional Western Australia, and remote and central Australia to deliver all channels, including GO!, GEM, 7TWO, 7mate, ONE, and the soon-to-be-launched ELEVEN.
Initially commercial channels will be in standard definition.
“This is an historic outcome for regional Australia,” Senator Conroy said. “For decades, viewers in smaller TV licence areas have put up with having only two commercial TV channels, often missing out on some of the country’s most popular programming.
“True equalisation of TV services in Australia was long considered impossible; the Gillard Government is proud to have achieved the realisation of what has been a long-held dream for many people in regional and remote Australia as part of the digital switchover program.
“This means viewers in these areas will receive the same number of commercial channels as people in capital cities,” he said. “All they need to do is install a set top box or, if they prefer, buy a new digital TV and connect it to their existing aerial – just like people in capital cities.”
The Government will provide 50% of capital and operational costs for new transmitters until the end of the digital switchover in 2013, with regional commercial broadcasters meeting the remaining and ongoing costs.
It’s certainly an ambitious promise, despite not making make any mention of other regional areas.
If it goes ahead in time for ELEVEN it will mean regional viewers won’t miss out on shows such a Neighbours and The Simpsons when they make the leap from TEN.
WIN, Prime, Southern Cross and Imparja will announce the rollout schedule in coming days.
ABC and SBS services – including ABC2, ABC3, ABCNews24, and SBSTWO – will also be provided via both terrestrial and satellite broadcast, and will include their high definition channels.
“Once the rollout of these new channels is completed, any viewer anywhere in Australia who cannot access the full suite of commercial digital TV channels via terrestrial broadcast will be able to access VAST,” Conroy said. “This will end once and for all the digital divide in TV services between regional and remote Australians and those living in our cities.”
Viewers in blackspots will have access via Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST). The government has previously announced subsidies for set-up costs to eligible households.