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Thursday, 13 May 1993
Page: 624


Senator BOURNE (9.49 p.m.) —I move:

(1)  After clause 3, page 2, insert the following clause:

  Transmission system standards

  "3A.  Section 94 of the Principal Act is amended by inserting in subsection (3) "by 1 March 1994" after "agree".

  This amendment requires the Minister to declare a full digital transmission standard if the satellite licensees A and B cannot agree on a standard. The amendment would put a deadline of 1 March 1994 in place for the licensees to agree on the standard. By inserting the words `by 1 March 1994' after `do not agree' in section 94(3) of the principal Act, we will prevent anyone from stalling the introduction of pay TV artificially by delaying the setting of a digital standard.

  Optus and a number of equipment manufacturers have recently made public statements that compressed digital video reception equipment for direct-to-home broadcasting by satellites will be commercially available by that time. This amendment will be an impetus to both manufacturers and successful licensees to meet ours and the Government's intention that Australians receive nationally available satellite pay TV services as soon as possible. As all senators know the ABC is included in satellite pay TV. If a standard has not been set by that date the Minister then has the power, under section 94(3) of the Act, to set a standard of his choosing. I commend the amendment to the Senate.