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Tuesday, 28 June 1994
Page: 2192

(Question No. 1324)

Senator Bell asked the Minister representing the Minister for Communications and the Arts, upon notice, on 14 April 1994:

  (1) On what basis did residents of Forth in northern Tasmania privately erect a tower near Braddon's Lookout to provide a repeater to improve television reception in the area.

  (2) Does this repeater function in respect of public as well as commercial television.

  (3) On what basis does the concept of free-to-air television apply to potential television viewers.

  (4) How many `self-help' or other private groups have secured `licences' for television repeaters in Tasmania.

  (5) Is it a fact that the Forth repeater must be upgraded in order to receive the TVT Channel 6 signal.

  (6) Is it also a fact that the cost of any repeater upgrading that is required as a result of integration has to be borne by the local community; if so, why are the residents of Forth different from the residents of Devonport.

  (7) Have local communities been responsible for the upgrading of any other television repeater or translator facilities in Tasmania to accommodate integration; if so, which ones.

Senator McMullan —The Minister for Communications and the Arts has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

  (1) & (2) It is understood that the Forth community has established a self-help rebroadcasting facility which has enabled delivery of ABC and TNT television services.

  (3) The extension of further transmission facilities for ABC TV is based on considerations of population, cost, topography and availability of spectrum.

  Under existing programs ABC TV has been made available terrestrially to an estimated 98 percent of the population. The National Transmission Agency, which is responsible for the operation and maintenance of national transmission facilities, proposes to provide a translator to enable ABC transmissions from Mt Barrow on Channel 32 to be re-transmitted to the Forth area, which should ensure continued access to ABC TV with improved reception.

  (4) The Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) has advised that communities at Acton Road, Mole Creek and Maydena in Tasmania have transmitters licensed under the Radiocommunications Act 1992 for re-transmission purposes.

  (5) & (6) Under the current Equalisation Implementation Plans, Forth is not to receive direct broadcasts from either commercial service. The Forth area is characterised by a deep valley surrounded by rugged terrain, requiring installation of dedicated retransmission facilities to provide residents with television signals. The town's small population (around 300) is unlikely to make installation of these facilities attractive to commercial operators.

  (7) The ABA has advised that no operators of licensed self-help facilities in Tasmania have yet applied to upgrade rebroadcast facilities to accommodate aggregation.