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Regional Equalisation Plan

 

 

Market

Assistance per Broadcaster

 

$m

Aggregated

 

- Northern NSW

$13.6m per broadcaster over 8 years by licence fee rebate

- Southern NSW

$13.6m per broadcaster over 8 years by licence fee rebate

- Regional Victoria

$13.6m per broadcaster over 8 years by licence fee rebate

- Regional Queensland

$13.6m per broadcaster over 8 years by licence fee rebate

 

 

Two Service

 

- Mildura/Sunraysia

$0.8m per broadcaster over 8 years by licence fee rebate

- Tasmania

$6.6m per broadcaster over 8 years by licence fee rebate

- Darwin

$3.3m per broadcaster over 8 years by licence fee rebate

- Griffith and MIA

$0.6m per broadcaster over 8 years by licence fee rebate

- regional Western Australia

$14.7m per broadcaster over 8 years by licence fee rebate

 

 

Solus

$8.8 million over 7-9 years by licence fee rebates and grants in some areas

 

 

Remote

Estimated at more than $30m

 

 

Notes:

The broadcasters Eastern Victoria and Western Victoria will equally share the rebate of $13.6m over 8 years provided per broadcaster for the Regional Victoria market.

The broadcasters South West and Great Southern, Geraldton and Kalgoorlie will share the rebate (in proportion to their licence fees) of $14.7m over 8 years provided per broadcaster for the Regional Western Australia TV1 market.

Where annual licence fees are below the cap, unused cap will carry forward as credit against future licence fees.

Details of level and form of assistance to broadcasters in remote licence areas to be determined once the ABA completes the conversion scheme for these licence areas.

REGIONAL EQUALISATION PLAN – SOME COMMON QUESTIONS

How will regional viewers benefit from the Regional Equalisation Plan?

The Regional Equalisation Plan will help regional commercial television broadcasters to pay for the roll-out of digital television. This will mean that viewers in regional and remote Australia share in the benefits of digital television at the earliest possible time.

Why is the Government helping regional commercial television broadcasters to pay for digital television?

Digital television will cost regional television broadcasters more per viewer than metropolitan broadcasters. They have to cover much larger licence areas, with more dispersed populations. At the same time, regional broadcasters do not earn as much money as metropolitan broadcasters, so paying for digital television is harder. If the Government did not help in this way, some regional areas might not receive digital television for a long time.

The Government will provide assistance to regional broadcasters up to $260 million to help pay for digital television. This represents 50 per cent of their estimated costs. The money will come in the form of rebates against the annual licence fees which broadcasters pay. In some cases, the Government will pay more than it would have received in licence fees over the period of the Plan. In these cases, the broadcaster will receive a grant.

The $260 million was calculated following an independent analysis of the costs of digital conversion for these broadcasters. In its 1998 election policy statement Communications: Making Australia Stronger, the Government promised to provide assistance to regional broadcasters based on independent analysis.

When will the remote broadcasters receive assistance under the Regional Equalisation Plan?

Under the Regional Equalisation Plan, the Government will also help remote broadcasters pay for digital television. The conversion scheme under which channels will be allocated for the introduction of digital television into remote areas is expected to be completed by the ABA by the end of this year.

When the ABA has made the plan, the Government will work out how much it will pay remote broadcasters.

How soon can regional viewers expect to receive digital television services, and how does this compare to metropolitan viewers?

In Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane, digital television broadcasts will start on 1 January 2001. In regional Australia, the television broadcasters must start transmitting in digital some time between 1 January 2001 and 1 January 2004. The precise date will depend on the broadcasters’ roll-out plans (which must be approved by the ABA).

Some regional broadcasters—in areas near major capitals, and in major regional centres—have said that they will start digital services in 2001. The plan for introducing digital television into remote Australia has not yet been made.

Will regional viewers receive a digital television signal equivalent to their existing analog signal?

The Government is determined to make sure that people in regional Australia who currently receive analog television services will receive a digital service of at least equivalent coverage and quality. That is why the law says that broadcasters must provide the ‘same coverage’ with digital television as they currently provide with analog television.

Broadcasters must prepare implementation plans, including a timetable for digital commencement, and a commitment to maintaining viewer coverage. Broadcasters have to give the plans to the ABA for approval, and they have to comply with the plans. The plans will have to take account of the different ways in which analog and digital television reception work.

Digital television transmissions will not suffer the same coverage problems as GSM digital mobile phones. Transmitting television is technically quite different to transmitting mobile phone signals.


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