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You will be staring at a blank TV screen in 2010 unless you’re digital TV (DTV) equipped, the Minister for Communications, Senator Helen Coonan, has announced.

The announcement followed a House of Representatives Standing Committee report recommending that analogue TV broadcast be terminated on 1 January 2010.

Previously, 2008 had been flagged as the deadline but the Minister now considers this to be unachievable.

A lack of certainty regarding analogue switch-off has been flagged as a key failure in DTV take-up (it is estimated only 15 percent of the population has adopted DTV). Providing a certain date is expected to ensure that the most competitive prices for digital equipment are offered to consumers.

Key recommendations from the House of Representatives Standing Committee report include:

· Switch off analogue television broadcasting nationwide on 1 January 2010.
· Lift multichannelling programming restrictions for the national broadcasters as soon as possible and no later than 1 January 2007.
· Lift multichannelling restrictions for commercial broadcasters on 1 January 2008.
· The current minimum High Definition broadcasting quota for free-to-air networks will be maintained until 1 January 2011.
· The establishment of a testing and conformance centre for digital television equipment, with the provision of A$1 million as seed funding in the first year.
· The establishment of a mandatory labelling scheme that will accurately identify television and digital reception products.

Senator Coonan’s announcement came prior to a full Ministerial address is scheduled for later today.

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