Digital TV switchover still on track for flooded, cyclone-battered Queensland

Transmission infrastructure 'not severely impacted' by Cyclone Yasi and floods

The DBCDE's Digital Television Switchover Web site.

The DBCDE's Digital Television Switchover Web site.

A spokesperson for the Australian government's Digital Switchover Taskforce has confirmed that television transmission infrastructure in Queensland was not significantly affected by Cyclone Yasi and recent flooding in the area. The region is expected to be switched over entirely to digital TV from the long-running analog TV service some time in the second half of 2011.

The Australian government has been transitioning regions of the country to digital TV since early 2010, turning off the analog television service that has been running since 1956. The Mildura-Sunraysia region in Victoria, as well as regional South Australian areas, have already been switched over to digital-only transmissions. However, recent damage to services in Queensland could have hampered proceedings in the state — according to Queensland treasurer Andrew Fraser, the floods and cyclone that have afflicted much of northern and central Queensland since late December have caused an estimated $5 billion in infrastructure damage.

Learn more about the digital TV switchover.

A spokesperson from the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy told PC World Australia that while a concrete date for the official switchover from analog to digital television in Queensland had not been set, the projected window of the second half of 2011 would likely still be met. "The most recent advice from both commercial and national broadcasters confirms that transmission infrastructure has not been severely impacted by the extreme weather events in Queensland. Transmitter sites, usually situated on higher ground, have escaped serious flood damage. Transmitter sites in the path of Cyclone Yasi did suffer power cuts but these, by and large, have been managed with the use of portable power generators. A return to normal power sources is expected relatively soon."

A document on the DBCDE's Digital Television Switchover Web site, initially announced on 19 October 2008, suggests that the entire state of Queensland, including remote regions of Capricornia and far north Queensland, would be switched to digital TV in the second half of 2011. The Digital Switchover Taskforce spokesperson's statement suggested that despite recent weather events this timeframe could be achieved. "Overall… there is a high level of confidence from broadcasters that the timetable for switchover for areas of regional Queensland in the second half of 2011 can be maintained. The switchover date is still to be determined, but it is likely to be towards the end of the year."

Much of the transmission infrastructure in Queensland is owned and operated by private company Broadcast Australia. A message on the Broadcast Australia Web site on February 7 said that flooding and cyclone damage was preventing access to several transmission sites across its network, but did not specify which sites were affected. Broadcast Australia maintains broadcast facilities and towers in Queensland areas including Rockhampton, Toowoomba and Townsville.

A representative from Broadcast Australia did not respond to a request for comment by PC World Australia.

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Campbell Simpson

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