Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has just announced a $37.9 million dollar plan to get us to all switch off our analogue TV sets by the end of 2013 and move to 100% digital reception.
That money is going to market research ($4.8 million), a taskforce to co-ordinate the switch ($16.9 million), developing a “digital-ready” logo for equipment ($6.7 million), research into digital reception on shared antennas ($1 million), and the remaining $8.5 million will go to ACMA (The Australian Communications and Media Authority) for evaluation of digital transmission and reception.
Conroy is likening the move to digital TV to the 1966 switch to decimal currently. Of course, if you think it’s weird that he’s talking like this now, you’re not alone. There’s a definite sense of déjà vu here.
The original plan for digital television in Australia was to have us 100% digital by the end of this year, at which point analogue TV would be switched off and the analogue spectrum returned to the government. Of course, even as early as 2005, it was pretty clear that wasn’t going to happen. TVs with integrated digital tuners were glacially slow to appear, and people were disinclined to throw their old TV out until it broke. And few people were much interested in another set-top box in their loungeroom.
So the deadline has been pushed back and pushed back, with a new initiative to promote digital TV every few years. The current deadline is five years later than the original deadline, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are even more deadline extensions.