Australian TV Going Digital

Australian TV Going Digital

Tokyo, Japan, 26 March 1998 (SAT-ND) -- Australian pay-TV operators, led by
Keith Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., have suffered a defeat in their efforts
to get a hand on digital terrestrial TV (DTT) in Australia. The government
has decided that Australia's current three commercial networks -- Seven,
Nine and Ten -- will be allowed to offer terrestrial digital TV services
exclusively until 2008 and to utilise unused bandwidth for data
transmission services, such as classified ads.

The networks also won a 10-year ban on any new free-to-air competitors.
They are required to begin the switch from analogue in 2001 but will be
allowed to keep their analogue licenses free of charge for a simulcast
period of eight years. The total cost of upgrading to DTT are estimated at
A$500 million (US$335 million.)

However, DTT will be HDTV only -- the networks must not use the digital
spectrum allocated for offering a number of different, normal-resolution
channels, which is technically feasible and planned in many other
countries. Communications Minister Alston admitted that multi-channelling
was a threat to the pay TV industry.

The country's Pay-TV operators, not too successful so far, were bitterly
opposed to the "free handout" which they said restricted competition.

Non-TV companies, such as newspaper groups and Internet service providers,
will also be offered unused DTT spectrum for broadcasting data services to
home TV sets and set-top boxes.

Alston said the Government will conduct a review before 2001 to determine
whether further TV datacasting services were to be allowed and any
legislative changes needed.

Source: Sat-ND, Peter Klanowski

[TELE-satellit Email Service|TELE-satellit ONLINE]