FREE TV will live up to its name for many Cooloola Coast residents, with news yesterday that commercial television broadcasters will pay to convert the area’s council-funded rebroadcasting facility from analogue to digital.
While there had been some doubt about whether the Cooloola Cove facility would be upgraded at broadcaster expense, Gympie Regional Council yesterday formally received Federal Government advice of agreement on the issue.
But federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy says viewers will need to be ready for the changeover, when it happens – suddenly – in the second half of next year.
“Digital transmitters will use the same television channels as the analogue service,” Sen. Conroy told councillors.
“This will mean that the analogue service will be swapped directly to digital at a point in time (a so-called ‘hot swap’), with no simulcast period.
“All residents in the area would therefore need to have converted to digital before the changeover.
“Broadcasters have said there will be some outages to television services at the site while the new equipment is being installed, tested and commissioned but they will try to keep these to a minimum,” the senator said.
Government contractors will also supply, install and demonstrate free high-definition set-top digital boxes for some pensioners, he said.
Mayor Ron Dyne told yesterday’s general meeting of council that it was fortunate the Cooloola Cove facility was among those selected for broadcaster-funded conversion, as some similar facilities would probably have to fund their own conversion.