'Free' satellite TV for people in 'blackspots'

The Federal Government today announced plans to provide digital satellite receivers to one in every 30 households living in broadcast blackspots in a bid to provide digital TV access to all Australians.

The Federal Government today announced plans to provide digital satellite receivers to one in every 30 households living in broadcast blackspots in a bid to provide digital TV access to all Australians.

About 247,000 households across the nation are expected to receive "free-to-air" satellite services at a cost of AU$160 million over four years, the government said.

"All regional Australians will now receive the same television services as people in the cities," said the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy.

The government is still conducting its AU$30 million satellite trial in Mildura and says the final cost of the digital satellite broadcasting service "will be determined following negotiations between broadcasters and satellite service providers".

In an agreement, broadcasters across the nation will upgrade more than 100 existing regional analog "self-help" transmission facilities to operate digitally. In order to service users in remote areas who are unable to receive broadcasts, the government will fund and build the new digital satellite facility.

The satellite service for the Sunraysia/Mildura region is expected to officially begin before the analog switch off in the area on 30 June 2010.

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