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Action on a digital television action plan

Will stickers on new sets in showrooms, along with presumably an expensive advertising campaign finally drive the take-up of digital television services in Australia?

Pam Carroll

commentary Bless her cotton socks, some six years after Australia's first digital television broadcasts began in January 2001, Communications Minister Helen Coonan has announced an action plan to drive the take-up of digital services in Australia.

The plan -- called Ready, Get Set, Go Digital -- includes the creation of a new government agency, Digital Australia, which will act as an educational body. One of its main tasks will be introducing a 'digital tick' labelling system that will inform shoppers that the electronics equipment they are buying will be able to receive digital signals.

We do agree with Coonan's assessment that the level of understanding of digital television and the impending switchover among the general population is "modest". An Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) study released last week confirms that the number of Australian households with free to air digital TV now stands at about 30 percent; 50 percent of people do not know if digital services are available in their area; and 20 percent of those surveyed have not heard of digital television at all.

Most ominous for the industry, over 65 percent did not know there was an analogue switch-off date, even though it's already been postponed once from December 2008 to somewhere between 2010 and 2012.

Clued-in readers of CNET.com.au will probably be in the 30 percent group that has already gone digital, but as taxpayers, we should be concerned that the government's efforts, belated as they may be, are finally on the right track.

Will stickers on new sets in showrooms, along with presumably an expensive advertising campaign do the trick? How can the government best drive the uptake of digital television in this country? Share your thoughts with us below!