Communications minister Stephen Conroy has voiced his support for the launch of digital broadcasting by TVS, Sydney’s community television station. TVS, which began broadcasting in February 2006, is the first community television station in Australia to commence digital simulcast.
“I’m delighted to see TVS take its rightful place alongside other free-to-air broadcasters in making the move to digital,” Conroy said. “TVS leads the way for community television in launching its digital simulcast, and I look forward to the commencement of digital services by community television stations in Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane in the coming months.”
Laurie Patton, TVS' chief executive, said that declining audiences for the analog format contributed to the adoption of broadcasting in digital. "More than half the homes in Sydney have now made the switch, so it was essential that TVS joined the transition to digital,” he said.
"All these new digital channels mean a much greater range of viewing choices," Patton said. "We see TVS as an 'incubator' where creative producers can afford to experiment with new concepts and develop new talent.”
The federal Government allocated $2.6 million last year to assist stations to meet the costs of commencing digital transmissions. A new digital-only community television station is also expected to launch shortly in Perth.
The announcement by TVS comes as the Government continues its plan for digital-only programming by 2013, with Conroy confirming that Broken Hill and regional South Australia would switch to digital-only television on 15 December.
“The switchover to digital TV in the Spencer Gulf, Riverland, Mt Gambier and southeast South Australia, and Broken Hill regions is part of the progressive switchover to digital TV around Australia by 2013,” the senator said. “Already 64 per cent of households in these regions have converted to digital TV, which is more than the Australia-wide conversion rate of 61 per cent by the end of 2009.”
Conroy has announced plans for switchover in Sunraysia on 30 June, 2010, in Brisbane and Perth on 30 June, 2013, and in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney on 31 December 2013.
More information about the digital switchover can be found at digitalready.com.au or by calling 1800 20 10 13.