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More and better digital television for rural West Australians.



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Senator the Hon Helen Coonan Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate

Media Release

Media Contact: Jane McMillan 0438 690 305

www.minister.dcita.gov.au

19 October 2006

More and better digital television for rural West Australians

Television viewers in rural and regional Western Australia will soon be able to receive more and better digital television services, Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, announced today.

“A Bill passed by Parliament yesterday extends to rural and regional areas the same level of digital television service that is available in Perth,” Senator Coonan said.

“The WIN and Prime commercial television networks can now introduce a new, jointly-operated, third digital commercial television service for regional viewers. WIN and Prime expect to begin digital services in regional and remote WA in the second half of next year. The jointly-operated third digital service will follow shortly thereafter.”

The Australian Government has supported this expansion through almost $20 million in funding for WIN and Prime to roll out digital TV in regional and remote WA.

“All up, the Australian Government is providing up to $250 million through the Regional Equalisation Plan to help regional and remote commercial broadcasters introduce their digital television services,” Senator Coonan said.

The Australian Government is also providing around $1 billion in funding for the progressive roll-out of ABC and SBS digital television services throughout Australia. More than 93 per cent of WA viewers are now able to receive ABC and/or SBS digital television services.

Viewers can receive digital television services via a digital television or a set top box that converts digital signals for viewing on analogue television receivers. A set top box could cost households less than $100.

“Analogue television transmissions will continue, alongside digital, in regional and remote Western Australia for several years so viewers have a reasonable time to upgrade their technology,” Senator Coonan said.

“This is all part of the Government’s comprehensive plan to energetically drive Australia into the digital age. In the package of media reforms passed by Parliament this week are measures to encourage a range of new digital services.

“By next year, new services including free-to-air, in-home, digital only channels or even perhaps ‘snack’ television - small segments of TV content delivered over a mobile device much like a mobile phone could be available.

“Both national broadcasters will be able to show a range of new and exciting content on their digital multi-channels and commercial broadcasters will be permitted to augment

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their current offerings with a high definition digital multi-channel by next year and a standard definition multichannel by 2009.

“This is great news for consumers and could potentially mean there are up to 30 new mobile TV channels, eight new in home digital channels and a range of new multichannels from both the national and commercial broadcasters.

“With these new services and the spread of digital television across Australia we hope to make the digital experience in Australia more attractive for consumers so we can energetically drive take-up of digital television in Australia.”