Simulcasting dropped and a compromise on multi-channelling

Australia’s free-to-air television networks will no longer have to simulcast their services in high-definition and in its place will be able to offer a stand-alone HD channel, under plans announced by communications minister Senator Helen Coonan.
In a Media release entitled “New Media Framework for Australia” Helen Coonan goes on to explain further changes to the digital Broadcasting requirements in Australia, which are planned to become law at the start of 2007.
Broadcasters however cannot choose to drop HDTV altogether once the simulcasting requirement has gone, since the current required quota of 1040 HDTV hours to be broadcast each year still remains. But the change is seen as an end to the previous Australian plan that HDTV would be the driver for the change to DTT.
Free-to-air broadcasters will also be allowed to launch one new standard definition channel as part of the proposals from 2009 as part of the changes.
In addition two new channels will also be opened up and the Government says that these will be for “new and innovative services” such as mobile and interactive TV.
Under the changes commercial broadcasters will still have to wait until analogue-switch-off before full multi-channelling is allowed. The new target for analogue switch-off is 2010-2012 and not 2008 as previously planned.
Source: Media release from Senator Helen Coonan
Item added: 17th July 2006