Digital TV Switchover Australia website (www.digitalready.gov.au) provides information on switchover from analogue to digital TV and what consumers need to know in order to be ready.
Digital TV in Australia
Between 2010 and 2013 analog free-to-air TV signals are being switched off. Australia will only have digital-only signals.
There has been a lot of confusion on what this actually means, and the introduction of Freeview didn’t quite help. The way Freeview was advertised, made people believe that it was either a TV channel on its own, or even a new “free to air cable TV” company (if that makes sense)! From our discussion of Freeview, it is obvious that there is a lot of confusion.
Now, there are ads on TV pointing people to www.digitalready.gov.au – a website that is setup as a guide to help consumers understand what they need to do to be able to still watch TV after the analogue TV signal is switched off. It appears that the website is aimed at people who don’t understand what is going on. The government even came up with this bright labeling scheme, which kind of says, if you’re not sure what is going on, just look for the bright labels – get anything with one of these, and you’ll be right.
So, what is this all about?
It is likely that confused people will go to digitalready.gov.au for some clarification, but with the very busy layout of digitalready.gov.au, they may get even more confused! So, here is a quick summary on what this is all about:
1. TV Channels
There is no difference between analogue and digital TV channels. Whatever you can watch on your old TV, you’ll still be able to watch on a new, digital TV.
2. How to get digital TV
There are two options: a new TV set or a “set top” box. Instead of connecting your TV aerial/antenna directly to your TV, you’ll need to connect it to this little “set top” bot and then connect this box to your old TV. When buying a “set top” box, make sure you get a high definition one (HD). Why? Because some of the new channels are only transmitted in HD format and you won’t be able to watch them if you don’t have an HD TV or a “set top” box.
3. What is Freeview?
Freeview is not a TV channel and it is not a TV company. Freeview is what we described in points 1 and 2 above. It’s just a collective name to what is happening with TV in Australia. There are some new “Freeview channels”, but they are not actually Freeview channels, they belong to existing TV channels (e.g., channel 72 belongs to channel 7, and there are two new ABC channels, known as ABC2 and ABC3). Because these channels only transmitted in digital format – which makes them unavailable to old analogue TV sets – therefore they are called “Freeview” channels.
4. How to find out if you already have a digital TV
The easiest way to find out if you already have a digital TV is to see if you can watch one of the new standard definition channels, for example, ABC2 on channel 22. If you can, it means that you do have digital TV (or a set top box). If you can also see one of the high definition channels, such as One HD on channel 1, it obviously means that you already have a HD TV or a set top box, and there is nothing you need to do to “switch over”, as you are already “switched over” to the new system. There is a handy digital fact sheet published by FreeTV.com.au.
5. When should I switch?
The earliest – now. The latest – when your old analogue TV stops working.
You may also like to see our article on Tivo.
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The review "Digitalready.gov.au – Digital TV Switchover" was last updated on 18/04/2015.