Digital TV gets huge boost, ABC and SBS to receive more money

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BUDGET 2009 : The digital switchover in Australia has been given a boost by the budget, with the Government announcing that it will provide $183.7 million of taxpayers dollars over three years to help the switchover from analogue to digital television in regional areas.

The rural areas in South Australia, Victoria and Queensland were announced as those that will benefit from the added funds, which will include an information campaign, an assistance program and a program that will work with the industry to drive the numbers of those who already have switched to digital.

Centrelink has also been given $15.1 million to offer support to the eligible households, while ACMA has been given $3.9 million to identify areas without access to digital television and other technical information relating to the switchover.

ACMA will be also given an additional $23.4 million over four years to replan and move digital television services after the switchover, allowing the efficient use of radio-frequency spectrums. This will free up spectrum, according to the Budget, and this free space will be used for alternative uses.

The Australian Broadband Guarantee – a program that was set up to give all residents in Australia access to broadband services that was available in metro areas – will have its funding reduced as, according to the Budget papers, “the greater availability of metro‑comparable broadband services to residential and small business premises that now exists.”

Big news for the ABC and SBS as well, as they have been granted more funding. The ABC will be given an additional $150 million, plus its $2.1 billion base funding, over the next three years – which includes $500,000 for the ABC to set up its digital children’s channel. The new funding will also allow the establishment of more Australian drama its schedule as well.

SBS has been given an additional $20 million, plus its $362.6 million in base funding, for the next three years. This funding will allow the SBS to increase local content by an additional 50 hours per year.

Also announced was that the Government will save up to $11.4 million over two years after the analogue television switchover has been completed, and the savings will be determined in the next triennial funding agreement from both national broadcasters.

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