The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston, today announced new measures to maximise the choice and opportunities available for Australians from the introduction of digital free to air television broadcasting and datacasting.

‘The guiding principle for the Government throughout the digital TV debate has been the interests of consumers. The decisions announced today will ensure that Australians will be able to choose the viewing option which best suits their individual circumstances when digital TV commences on 1 January 2001,’ Senator Alston said.

‘The Government will require the free to air broadcasters to continue their existing analogue broadcasts for at least 8 years. They will also be required to offer both high definition digital (HDTV) and standard definition digital (SDTV) broadcasts.

‘Spectrum will be made available for new datacasting services, and these services will be allowed to offer a wide variety of information, education, advertising, shopping and news services.

‘This will give Australians a choice: an HDTV set that offers cinema quality pictures as well as access to the new datacasting services; a cheaper SDTV set that offers access to the new services and better reception and picture quality than existing analogue sets; a set-top box that gives access through their existing analogue TV set to the new services but with existing picture quality, or; continuing to watch their existing programs through their existing analogue set but without access to the new services.

‘In making these decisions, the Government was well aware of the need to strike a balance between the interests of consumers and the very real financial pressures on both broadcasters and aspirant datacasters.

‘Last year’s legislation, supported by both Government and Opposition parties, prohibits the introduction of new free to air broadcasters before 31 December 2006. Accordingly, the new datacasting regime has been crafted so as to ensure that datacasters cannot offer a de facto broadcasting service.

‘The Government is confident that its decisions will ensure that Australians enjoy the best broadcasting in the world while introducing new information and entertainment options through the establishment of a thriving and viable datacasting industry.’

The decisions announced today are:






Media Contact: Terry O’Connor, Senator Alston’s office 0419 636 879 or 02 6277 7480
21 December 1999

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A Word Document version of this media release is available at (50k)
An Additional set of Questions and Answers about Australian Digital Television is available at (130k)

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