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Commercial TV expansion plans on track in northern NSW



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MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS

COMMERCIAL TV EXPANSION PLANS ON TRACK IN NORTHERN NSW

Federal Government planning for the staggered introduction of more commercial television services in Northern New South Wales is well on track, the Minister for Transport and Communications, Mr Kim Beazley, said today.

Most of the 1.4 million people living in what is known as Approved Market B under the Government's commercial television equalisation policy, will be able to watch at least one new commercial service from 31 December 1991.

Complete coverage by two new commercial services will largely be achieved by July 1992, giving viewers in Northern NSW a choice between three competing commercial stations.

"Thanks to equalisation, this will be the same level of competition and choice as that enjoyed by viewers in the mainland capitals, and denied to regional Australians for too long," Mr Beazley said.

Equalisation of commercial television, already implemented in Southern NSW and Queensland, is based on combining single commercial television markets in the eastern States to form larger, multi-station entities.

The fourth and last stage of the equalisation program in the eastern mainland States, which will bring two additional services to regional Victoria, is scheduled to begin early in 1992.

Mr Beazley said the multi-million-dollar upgrading of numerous Commonwealth transmission sites in Northern NSW, essential to the success of equalisation, was also enabling the Government to provide additional ABC radio services in many centres.

The Northern NSW equalisation market covers five regions---Grafton/Kempsey, Manning River, Newcastle/Hunter River, Richmond/Tweed and Upper Hamoi.

At present, NRN services Grafton/Kempsey and Richnond/Tweed; Prime Manning River and Upper Namoi; and NBN Newcastle/Ranter River.

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"NBN will extend its service throughout most of the market on 31 December 1991, while Prime will move into Newcastle/Hunter River, on the same date and to Grafton/Kempsey and Richmond/Tweed in July 1992," Mr Beazley

said.

"The third service, provided by NRN, is likely to extend to Newcastle/Hunter River on 31 December 1991 amd into Manning River and Upper Namoi in July 1992."

NRN had planned to extend to Newcastle/Hunter River in July 1992, but has indicated that it will lodge a revised implementation plan at the end of May 1991. It is understood this will seek ministerial approval of a 31 December 1991 start date in Newcastle/Hunter River.

The value of early commencement of many new services in Northern NSW outweighed any advantage in waiting for a uniform start in July 1992, Mr Beazley said.

The Government's equalisation policy, announced in 1986, is fostering competition among broadcasters and giving viewers in regional areas much wider choice in commercial television.

Southern NSW, known as Approved Market C in the Government's equalisation policy, was the first region to receive additional commercial services, early in 1989.

In Queensland (Approved Market A), new services began on 31 December 1990.

Most Tasmanian viewers should have access to one additional commercial television service in 1993.

Widespread acceptance of equalisation in Southern NSW and Queensland had vindicated the Government's decision to give some four million regional viewers in eastern Australia a better deal, Mr Beazley said.

Attachments to this media statement shows New services and areas to benefit in Northern NSW; a map of the Northern NSW aggregated commercial television market; a background paper on equalisation.

Media contact: Graeme Barrow (06) 274 7856

Attachment 1

COMMERCIAL TELEVISION EQUALISATION IN NORTHERN NSW

Once commercial television equalisation has been achieved in Northern NSW, the picture in the five equalisation districts will look like this:

District Present

service

Services by July 1992

Grafton/Kempsey NRN NRN + Prime + NBN

Nanning Pivpr Prime Prime + NBN + NRN

Newcastle/Hunter River NBN NBN + Prime + NRN

Richmond/Tweed NRN NRN + Prime + NBN

Upper Namoi Prime Prime + NBN + NRN

Within these five districts, the following centres (estimated population figures in brackets) will receive one new service from 31 December 1991, joining the existing operator:

Grafton/Kempsey: Grafton and Kempsey districts (88 203); Coffs Harbour (20 797). Existing operator NRN; new service NBN.

Manning River: Taree, Port Macquarie districts (165 261); Forster (11 239). Existing operator Prime; new service NB N .

Newcastle/Hunter River: Newcastle (district), Maitland, Raymond Terrace, Kurri Kurri (603 350); Murrurundi (1850); Upper Hunter (district) (21 000). Existing operator N BN; new service Prime. (It is likely that NRN will also start in this district from 31 December 1991.)

Richmond/Tweed: Casino, Ballina, Lismore (324 843); Murwillumbah (28 157). Existing operator NRN; new service NBN.

Upper Mamoi: Moree, Narrabri, Gunnedah (45 139); Glen Innes (5971); Inverell (9963); Armidale (20 630); Tamworth (49 354). Existing operator Prime; new service NBN.

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Within these five districts, the following centres will be serviced by a third commercial television operator in July 1992 :

Grafton/Keepsey: Grafton and Kempsey districts, Goffs Harbour: Third operator Prime.

Manning River: Taree, Port Macquarie districts. Third operator NRN.

Newcastle/Hunter River: Newcastle (district), Maitland, Raymond Terrace, Kurri Kurri, Upper Hunter (district). Third operator NRN. (This operator may begin broadcasting in this district from 31 December 1991.)

Richmond/Tweed: Casino, Ballina, Lismore, Murwillumbah. Third operator Prime.

Upper Na*oi: Moree, Narrabri, Gunnedah, Armidale, Tamworth. Third operator: NRN.

Present network affiliations: Prime: 7; NBN 9; NRN 10.

ATTACHMENT 2

Equalisation of commercial television services in Northern New South Wales (Approved Market B)

Note: Tenterfield is within the AMB equalisation area

fc g g g i Equalisation g j j s s | Area