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Administration of the Digital Television Switchover Household ...

Administration of the Digital Television Switchover Household ...

1.4 The principal

1.4 The principal objective of the DTS initiative is to work with industry to support the public’s transition to digital television in each of the 33 discrete switchover regions, ensuring that those who currently have access to television in analog form, will continue to have access to television in digital form. As at December 2011, 82 per cent of Australian households had already converted to free‐to‐air digital television broadcasts. 18 1.5 To 1 March 2012, the DTS initiative had been rolled out to the Mildura/Sunraysia pilot region (June 2010), Regional South Australia and Broken Hill (December 2010), Regional Victoria (May 2011) and Regional Queensland (December 2011). 19 The switchover in Regional New South Wales is scheduled to conclude in November 2012, with the switchover of Tasmania and major metropolitan and remote areas to occur in 2013. The regional switchover timetable was implemented back‐to‐back, that is, six monthly project implementation timelines for each region (switchover windows), with the design to allow for lessons learned and improvements to program delivery to be incorporated into future rollouts as the initiative progresses, culminating in the final year’s multiple consecutive switchovers. 1.6 The DTS initiative provides funding 20 for a number of interdependent components: � a communications program to help raise awareness, understanding and support television viewers as they plan, prepare for, and make the transition to digital‐only television ($59.1 million over July 2009–December 2011); � the Satellite Subsidy Scheme (SSS) to provide a satellite conversion subsidy to eligible households currently served by ‘self‐help’ transmission sites that are not upgraded to digital by broadcasters ($99.1 million over 2010–13) 21 ; 18 Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Digital Tracker Report, Quarter 4 October-December 2011, pp. i–ii. 19 The geographical areas for determining switchover are based on licence areas for commercial television broadcasting services. 20 The funding amounts for each component represent the announced funding. These amounts have been revised as the DTS has progressed. 21 Self-help transmission sites are located mainly in regional and remote areas of Australia and are designed to obtain, or improve, analog television reception in areas unable to obtain adequate reception from existing broadcaster-operated transmission sites. ANAO Audit Report No.55 2011–12 Administration of the Digital Television Switchover Household Assistance Scheme 34

Background and Context � the Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) program to ensure digital television signals are available in areas of signal deficiency (black spots) ($375.4 million over 12 years); and � the Household Assistance Scheme (HAS), which is the focus of this audit, to provide practical end‐to‐end technical and installation services (including antenna, cabling, set‐top boxes (STBs) and satellite access, where warranted) to eligible Australians receiving the maximum amount of specified government pensions, payments and supplements ($381.4 million over 2009 to 2013–14). 22 Household Assistance Scheme 1.7 In December 2008, the Australian Government agreed to bring forward the proposal to fund an interim package to drive the availability of improved television services as Australia makes the transition to digital broadcasting. In January 2009, the then Prime Minister announced a pilot package of measures, including: � in‐home assistance to help targeted households (HAS); � a new satellite service to extend access to digital television; � working with the local community to improve awareness and understanding of the digital switchover; � a labelling scheme to help consumers easily identify digital ready products; and � a national call centre and a website providing switchover information. 1.8 HAS, the largest component of the DTS initiative, was established to provide in‐home assistance to those households that it was anticipated would experience the most difficulty in selecting and installing the necessary equipment to switchover to digital television. 23 The Scheme was in recognition that, for some Australians, switching to digital television would not be a simple or a straight‐forward task. 22 As a demand driven program, any funds not required have been, and will be, returned to consolidated revenue. 23 HAS was established as an Executive Scheme. Executive Schemes rely on executive rather than legislative power, and their key advantage is the speed with which they can be established and their flexibility. A challenge in implementing an executive scheme is ensuring that any terms and conditions are clear and enforceable. ANAO Audit Report No.55 2011–12 Administration of the Digital Television Switchover Household Assistance Scheme 35

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