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VAST Digital TV Unleashed In OZ As Analogue Dies

By Oonagh Reidy | Wednesday | 15/12/2010

Goodbye analogue, hello free digital channels as satellite is available in more regions than ever before.

Digital-only free to air television is being transmitted to viewers in remote areas of Central and Eastern Australia as of yesterday, announced Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy.

"The Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) service is now available to households throughout the Remote Central and Eastern Australia TV licence area," Minister for Communications, Senator Conroy said.

The newly appointed areas include parts of the Northern Territory, South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and also Tasmania.

It is set to hit transmission in remote areas of Western Australia in early 2011.

TV lovers will be able to access the full range of digital channels including ABC, SBS as well as their local news channel, thanks to the VAST digital satellite.

Viewers that formerly relied on just satellite or terrestrial signal with just a four channel offering can now access a host of new channels to keep them entertained, enriching the level of choice available.

For current RABS satellite viewers, the new VAST set top box can be connected to existing satellite dishes.

A host of new channels have been streamed on free-to-air since the beginning of this year including ABC's News 24, Sevens Network's 7mate, Nine's GEM, Go!, as well as a youth channel Eleven, to be available from early next year.

"This represents an historic shift in services for satellite free-to-air television viewers," Senator Conroy said.

The 12 year digital TV overhaul, backed by the Federal Government to the tune of $375.4 million, aims to provide transmission of the full suite of digital free-to-air channels all across the country.

The service has been available to viewers in the Mildura/Sunraysia since June, and regional South Australia and Broken Hill since September last.

Under the Satellite Subsidy Scheme, 130,000 households in regional communities that currently rely on community operated analog TV will be provided with a high definition satellite set top box, satellite dish and cabling installed by the government and will pay around $200 and $350.

The scheme is currently operating in regional Victoria and will be made available in Queensland from April 2011.

A handy 'mySwitch' tool that can help you predict the digital TV coverage at your house, and whether you need VAST, is available from the Department of Communications online.

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