Digital TV Channels in the Bush / Rural areas with FTA Sat TV

I had a question some time ago what was going to happen with all the people who live in the bush, how we were going to get digital TV when we're on Sat TV reception (which doesn't broadcast any available digital channels).
I sent the question off to the government as well. A while after that i actually heard on the radio that the Government was going to fund the digital satellite service. I was pretty happy needless to say, that we weren't going to miss out and that I'd got an answer I'd been wondering about for quite some time.

I don't know how many months it's been (I did get a message that they were inundated with inquiries). But finally here is the proper reply to my question for anyone else that might find the information useful, I just got it today......

Dear Kristina Attwood,

Thank you for your enquiry to the Digital Switchover Taskforce. I apologise for the delay in replying.

The Australian Government is taking action to facilitate a smooth transition from an analog to a digital environment well before switchover occurs in each switchover area.

Minister’s announcement on satellite television services

On 5 January 2010, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, announced that the Australian Government will fund a new digital television satellite service for viewers who are unable to obtain adequate reception of their local digital television terrestrial services.

The new Government-funded digital satellite service will carry the full suite of free-to-air television channels in all regions of Australia. This will for the first time mean that people in regional and remote Australia will have access to the same number of channels as is available in capital cities. This will include channels providing Seven, Nine and Ten services, and the related commercial digital-only channels, such as 7TWO, GO! and ONE HD. Local regional commercial news bulletins will be available via a dedicated news channel. Further details about this news channel are being developed by broadcasters and will be announced in due course.

All state-based ABC and SBS services, including ABC2 and ABC3, SBS TWO and the new ABC 24 hour news channel, when it launches, will also be carried on the satellite.

The Government is currently negotiating contracts with broadcasters to provide the services. The services will be available prior to switchover in your switchover area.

In order to access the new satellite service, these households will need to install satellite reception equipment, including a satellite dish and set-top box.

The Government will provide a satellite conversion subsidy to eligible households currently served by self-help sites that are not upgraded to digital by the broadcasters, to meet part of the cost of conversion.


Report on Digital Television and Transmission

The Report on Digital Television Transmission and Reception is tabled in Parliament and outlines the broadcasters’ progress in converting their transmission sites to digital as well as detailing the analog self-help facilities that are operated by local councils and other authorities and not subject to the broadcasters’ implementation plans. The report includes information on:
· rectifying transmission infrastructure issues that prevent digital television services achieving the equivalent coverage and reception quality as analog services
· local market areas and regions where transmission issues have been identified and how many households will be affected.

The most recent Report on Digital Television Transmission and Reception was published in February 2010. The report gives information on the progress by commercial and national broadcasters to meet their obligations to achieve the equivalent coverage and reception quality in digital as in analog. The report also identifies likely transmission black spots, typically those areas served by analog self-help retransmission facilities for which there are no conversion plans.

In announcing the new satellite service the Minister advised that an agreement had been reached with television broadcasters for them to upgrade a number of existing regional analog self-help retransmission facilities to operate in digital. The Government is currently consulting with broadcasters to identify the list of self-help facilities to be upgraded to digital which will be announced in the first half of 2010.

You can find the reports on Digital Television Transmission and Reception at the Digital Ready website. Simply go to www.digitalready.gov.au, then click on Publications.

I hope this information has been helpful.

Kind regards

Digital Switchover Taskforce
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Reply By: Groove - Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010 at 21:39

Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010 at 21:39
Great news I think it a national imperative that the federal government spend millions of dollars so the country dwellers can watch digital reruns of gilligans island and big brother.
AnswerID: 409276

Follow Up By: Outa Bounds - Friday, Mar 19, 2010 at 10:10

Friday, Mar 19, 2010 at 10:10
I don't agree that it's a waste of money.

It's not about the content at all, from my view I was mainly wondering what was going to happen when analogue is switched off, I mean if I could just go out and buy a HD set top box to plug in (in place of the satellite decoder) to get digital tv then yeah I'd be happy, but unfortunately it's not as simple as that is it.

I know sometimes where you live is a lifestyle choice but that's not always the case, so I think what the government is doing is a good thing, just like the subsidized broadband installation.
Even with the broadband what I pay now is what I paid about 3-4 years ago as an ADSL user for a smiilar speed / usage allowance, I'm not complaining I'm just saying that people in the country do have to pay more to get access to some of the same technology as the town / city counterparts.
People will still had to have paid for their Sat TV installations, so why shouldn't they get digital channel access just like everyone else when the switchover happens?
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Reply By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Friday, Mar 19, 2010 at 10:35

Friday, Mar 19, 2010 at 10:35
I sent an email to the minister requesting clarification on reception of digital channels on satellite by travelers. ie if it's available can we get it?

I finally got a reply dated 16FEB 10 with the same preamble as Outa Bounds and an explanation about why the current system of east and west is in place, basically because of licence areas. Similar as to why I can't get Foxtel in Toowoomba and have to have Austar, if I want it.

In 2 1/2 pages I finally got the answer to my question.

" Further information on access arrangements for viewers in regional and metropolitan areas, including those who wish to access these services while travelling, will be released in the coming months."

So at least they may be thinking about it.
AnswerID: 409463

Follow Up By: Ben_R - Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 13:32

Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 13:32
Firstly - As a country Free-To-Air C1 Satellite installer, I would like to comment about the posts above.

Those people receiving Free-To-Air via C1 ( GWN, WIN, or IMJ, 7Central, ABCNT, ABCWA, ABCSE, ABCQ, ABCSA, SBSWA, SBSNT, SBSQ, SBSSA ) get a digital signal. There is a lot of confusion about "Digital" vs "HD".

Currently some of the "Freeview" channels are available on the C1 satellite, but only those who have Foxtell. The Foxtell box is capable of receiving both digital and HD signals.

So when the government anounced they will/may support access to the "Freeview" channels on the C1 satellite, they meant to say "freeview channels will be available if you upgrade your satellite receiver to a HD satellite receiver".

Which is fine - but those regional people who have already forked out $100 - $300 for the free-to-air channels receiver ( plus the dish ect ) will need to buy a new HD receiver. Otherwise you will not get ALL the freeview channels. HD satellite receivers are much more expensive, starting from $500 - $1500.

Personally, I hope the HD freeview channels will be broadcast with just a digital signal, which eliminates every country houshold to upgrade their receiver box. In the country, bugger HD - we'd be happy with digital.

On another note: if Freeview is available on the C1 satellite via free-to-air into country areas - namely 7, 9, & 10, what does this do to GWN, WIN or IMP, 7Central. My understanding on the broadcasting laws is you cannot recieve both.

Cheers

I hope this helps you country viewers with Satellite TV.
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Follow Up By: Gone Bush (WA) - Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 14:40

Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 14:40
Ben,

I think you've aded to the confusion by not using more accurate terms like SD (Standard Def) and HD (High Definition).

When referring to Freeview I'm sure you, and others, are referring to Channel Nine's "GO!" channel and Seven's "7TWO" channel and the ABC's ABC2 and 3.

I'm watching them now on free to air in Perth and they are all SD (576i). Re-transmitting them on Satellite doesn't mean they are going to be HD.



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Follow Up By: Ben_R - Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 14:52

Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 14:52
Thanks Gone Bush - but you are only receiving them on SD in Perth. Not counrty areas. My post relates ONLY to country viewers - without ANY terestrial transmittion what-so-ever and without Foxtell.

I know the difference between SD and HD - ( my original post was an answer to Ron N. who stated "I sent an email to the minister requesting clarification on reception of digital channels on satellite by travelers. ie if it's available can we get it?"

The simple answer to this is - "Yes" we all can. All channels currently on auroroa free-to-air service is digital - excluding foxtell who have HD and SD.

I believe Ron N wanted to know if Freeview channels will be available on the Optus Aroura Satellite system ( without foxtel ) - ie: he is no where near a terrestrial transmitter.

Peace..Out.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 15:13

Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 15:13
The new broadcast standard is all digital with, as Gone Bush said, SD or HD. There is no "Digital" vs "HD".
From a letter from the minister concerned "The Governments commitment is to maximise viewers access to digital television services". and "The new satellite service will carry the full suite of digital channels, including ABC2, ABC3, SBS TWO, GO!, 7TWO and ONEHD" It must be pointed out that only ONEHD is HD, the others are SD. Freeview is the new buzz word for free to air (FTA), including the original and new channels.
Also " Further information on access arrangements for viewers in regional and metropolitan areas, including those who wish to access these services while travelling, will be released in the coming months."
The letter is in hard copy and is 2 1/2 pages. If anyone wants to read it all I could scan it and post it.
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Follow Up By: Ben_R - Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 15:24

Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 15:24
You state: "The new satellite service will carry the full suite of digital channels, including ABC2, ABC3, SBS TWO, GO!, 7TWO and ONEHD"

I state: Only with a HD satellite receiver - not a SD reciever as all us folk in the counrty have.

Freeview is Freeview ( ABC2, ABC3, SBS TWO, GO!, 7TWO and ONEHD ) but us folk in the country still only receive GWN, WIN, or IMJ, 7Central, ABCNT, ABCWA, ABCSE, ABCQ, ABCSA, SBSWA, SBSNT, SBSQ, SBSSA.

What would you like to call this?? Perhaps "FTAOASS" ( Free to air on a satellite system???? )

OK heres a question for you Ron N. How can I get ONEHD on satellite way out in the bush. Do I need to upgrade my current satellite receiver to a HD receiver.

Cheers
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FollowupID: 680235

Follow Up By: Gone Bush (WA) - Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 15:51

Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 15:51
OneHD is, largely, irrelevent because there is also a One SD. In what is a gross waste of resources, Channel 10 broadcast the same sports on SD and HD, and in a further frustrating move, they are prevented from transmitting AFL footy on One (SD or HD) earlier than on the "real" Channel 10.

This means that, if CH10 decide to broadcast a delayed game to us here in Perth, they can't offer it direct on One, their dedicated sports channel. Pathetic situation caused by bureacracy and lack of thought.

As a matter of fact, digital TV, as a whole, would benefit by eliminating HD and using the extra bandwidth to broadcast more SD channels.

I will happily admit that I find very, very little difference in PQ between SD and HD. Maybe having Dolby sound on HD is the only benefit, and that I can go without. If I want full HD and surround sound I'll put on a Blueray disc.

Ben_R, sorry if my post sounded argumentative. It wasn't meant to. Although I will happily argue SD vs HD with any Govt Dept reps at any time.

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Follow Up By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 15:56

Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 15:56
"I", RoD n, did not state what the new satellite service would carry, I QUOTED from a letter from the communications minister.
I am fully aware of the present limited service to country areas.
The government are the ones that said they will provide the full suite of digital channels and did not mention whether they were SD or HD. See this Media release.
I do not know the answer about ONEHD, it is the government that said it would be available IN THE FUTURE and I guess if you want HD then you get a HD box the same as for terrestrial TV in the city.
The Government has said that FTA (Freeview) would be available to all Australians.
I questioned the minister on the effect their new service would have on travellers and hence the reply letter I quoted.
Hope this clears things up.
RoD
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Follow Up By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 16:56

Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 16:56
Gone Bush, I fully agree with you!
Here in Toowoomba we do not have ONESD. Unless you are into USA sport it seems a waste of space. We have ABC1HD,SBSHD, 7HD and WINHD which all transmit the same program as their SD channels, which as you say is a waste.
I hope the SD, HD thing has been clarified.

For those with questions about Satellite FTA TV see here Sattelite Digital TV
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