Free- to- air TV could be costly
RESIDENTS i n Kelso, Mount Ell i ot , Paluma and Magnetic Island will have to pay at least $ 500 to be able to watch television after the analogue signal is turned off this year.
The issue was raised at council’s Lifestyle and Community Development meeting yesterday.
Council’s representative on the board of the Mount Isa Townsville Economic Zone, Cr Tony Parsons said some people in the four Townsville black spot areas currently had TVs serviced by towers that re-broadcast an analogue service only.
He said the only way people in these areas could watch the incoming digital signal was through paying $ 500 for a decoder and satellite equipment.
Alternatively Cr Parsons said it would cost Townsville at least $ 1 million to upgrade the four towers, based on the quote given to the McKinlay Shire in north-west Queensland for the same service.
‘‘ The government quote to the McKinlay Shire is $ 250,000 for the
Tony Parsons upgrade of t he t ower t o r ebroadcast that digital service, which in a community of 1100 people is like holding a gun to their head,’’ Cr Parsons said.
‘‘ In the city a set-top box ( needed to receive the digital signal) costs between $ 40-50 and I’m more than happy for people to wear that cost.
‘‘ But what I’m not happy about is the cost of $ 500 per TV – that’s for the satellite and decoder needed to take the digital signal from the satellite – and people say this is free-to-air TV but it’s not freeto-air.
‘‘ If you have a situation like
I have at home where there are five televisions, you need five decoders to get any TV signal.’’
C o u n c i l ’ s C o m m u n i t y a n d Lifestyle Committee chairwoman Cr Jenny Lane hit out at the federal government’s changeover plans for not including funding to upgrade existing analogue retransmission towers in areas with a poor signal. Instead residents in these broadcast black spots will have to apply for a $ 400 subsidy towards the cost of a signalenhancing dish.
Cr Lane said councils had been provided with little detail and w e r e u n c l e a r o n h o w t h e changeover would affect different areas. ‘‘ In some of the black spot areas people may be able to pick up signals with a digital TV and set-top box but others may not without a dish or re-transmission tower. The cost to upgrade existing towers should not be the responsibility of local councils. We need more information, more funding and more time.’’
C o u n c i l ’ s C o m m u n i t y a n d Lifestyle Committee backed a recommendation to continue to lobby federal ministers and local MPs and also to write to residents in the affected areas on the implications of the changeover.