A report prepared by the Government’s Digital Switchover Taskforce has been presented to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and enabling legislation is expected to he passed during this week’s sitting of the federal parliament. The first region to switch from analog to digital transmissions is expected to be in northeast Victoria, centred on Mildura. This region already has a relatively high take-up of digital-enabled television sets because the Channel 10 signal has been broadcast locally on a digital channel since 2006.
The head of the Australian Digital Switchover Taskforce, Andy Townend, was formerly the deputy head of Britain’s Ofcom regulatory body, which is overseeing its switch to digital transmissions. It is understood the task force recommends that the switch-over process be started in the second half of 2010. The Government has already set a date for completion — December 31, 2013. The legislation before parliament gives the minister power to extend or modify the proposed switch-off timetables by up to six months, which means it would be possible to delay the final date in some markets until mid-2014 if unexpected difficulties arose.