‘ Dire straits’ for digital TV
THE north-west Queensland towns of Richmond and McKinlay have called for better Federal Government support in the transition to digital television.
The towns have been given t h r e e wee k s t o d e c i d e o n whether to invest $ 250,000 each on major equipment upgrades or rely on commonwealth support programs for individuals.
There is also concern that without major upgrades, residents will be restricted to one television and that businesses such as motels and caravan parks will be disadvantaged.
‘‘ We fear people are going to start bypassing Richmond and Julia Creek,’’ McKinlay Mayor Paul Woodhouse said yesterday. ‘‘ We are in dire straits.’’ Australia is moving to digital broadcasts with analogue signals due to be turned off in 2013.
The government has ventures with private broadcasters to provide services, however, provision of re-broadcasting facilities for communities of less than 5 0 0 h o u s e h o l d s r e m a i n s unclear.
Development body Mount Isa to Townsville Economic Zone has supported two of its member councils, McKinlay and Richmond.
‘‘( Zone) members supported both McKinlay and Richmond Shires in their call for the Commonwealth to better support the transition to digital TV in small communities and to at least provide councils with more time to assess other and possibly cheaper options to rebroadcast than those currently being directed by the Commonwealth Government,’’ the organ- isation said in a statement.
A spokeswoman for Minister f o r B r o a d b a n d , C o mmuni - cations and the Digital Economy Senator Stephen Conroy said the government was aware of the concerns of some councils and was engaging with them.
She said a deadline of February 28, which had been set on decisions about how communities could best decide their options, had been deferred indefinitely.
‘‘ The government is committed to ensuring that no Australian will lose access to television as a result of digital b r o a d c a s t i ng, ’ ’ t he s p o kes - woman said.
‘‘ A central feature of the Federal Government’s program is bringing equal television service to people in regional and remote Australia.
‘‘( We are) committed to working with communities to deliver the best outcome ( for them).’’