Another milestone in Australia’s transition to digital-only television broadcasts has passed with regional Victoria’s remaining analog signals now switched off.
Communications minister Senator Stephen Conroy announced today around 455,000 households in regional Victoria now receive digital-only TV following the shutdown of analog television signals.
"The switch off of analog TV in regional Victoria is a significant milestone in Australia’s switchover to digital-only television by 2013," Conroy said.
Analog TV broadcasting commenced in regional Victoria in 1961 and ended this morning when analog services from 66 transmitter sites were switched off.
The conversion of regional Victoria on May 5 is on schedule and comes nearly a year after Mildura/Sunraysia region on the NSW-Victoria border was the first area in Australia to go digital-only.
The “regional Victoria” area covers most of the state, with Melbourne and the remaining areas not scheduled for cut over until 2013.
Conroy said regional Victoria is the largest switchover so far in the roll out. Late last year regional South Australia and Broken Hill in far-western NSW went digital-only. Some 200 homes in that region opted for satellite TV services instead of digital.
Sine the roll-out began the biggest complaint is the tolerance of digital TV compared to analog, which, when switched off, left some houses without any signal.
Members of local digital TV forum, Dtvforum.info, in regional Victoria are posting their experiences with the switchover.
“Here [Latrobe Valley] it’s been depressing all week to see so many perfectly working CRT TV’s being tossed out in the street,” one forum member wrote.
“My neighbour got a free Bush STB from the government for his old CRT, but his picture quality is poor.”
Another forum member wrote: “Actually it is depressing because a lot of people will get rid of perfectly good, low energy CRTs and will replace them with el cheapo LCDs and plasmas (full HD of course) and they will get a worse picture than before.”
“Because of the low bit rates used by the broadcasters, CRTs connected to a STB give a better picture when viewing [free-to-air] TV. Not everyone watches Blu-rays all day long.”
In November Conroy announced a $34 million federal grant to provide full TV services to remote areas.
Some communities in regional Victoria that previously relied on local analog “self help” transmitters, or were unable to receive terrestrial signals, have moved to the new government-funded VAST satellite.
“The introduction of VAST, and the upgrading and introduction of new terrestrial transmitters by broadcasters, is providing all regional Victorian households with access to the same number of digital TV channels as is available in Melbourne,” Conroy said.
Around 25,000 households have been converted to digital TV through the government’s Household Assistance Scheme, which provides eligible households with the supply, installation and demonstration of a HD set top box.
The assistance scheme will be available for another month and the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy did not immediately release figures on how many households in the region opted for VAST or are still using analog-only television.
In December Regional Queensland will be the next region to switch to digital-only TV.
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