TOMORROW – Thursday May 5 – sees the switching off of the analogue television signal across regional Victoria and its replacement with digital only.
A media blitz has been in place in recent months, as the government warns householders to prepare for the switchover. Hopefully, most people are ready.
Certainly, the local hospital and nursing homes, which have televisions throughout their facilities, appear to be well prepared.
South Gippsland Hospital recently upgraded all its televisions and is now digital ready.
The communal televisions in the lounges of Banksia Lodge at Foster and Prom View Lodge at Toora have been upgraded. The residents, however, own the televisions in their rooms, so it is up to them and their families to make them digital ready by purchasing a new TV or a set top box.
There is lots of information available on the switchover. A good place to start is the Digital Switchover Taskforce, tel. 1800 20 10 13 or go to www.australia.gov.au/digitalready. Here are answers to some common questions:
What do I need to do to prepare for the switchover?
If you have a new TV then you’re probably digital ready. But, if your TV is a few years old, then here are a few things you can do to get digital ready:
Buy a new TV with an integrated digital TV tuner;
Keep the TV you have and attach a digital set top box, or a digital video recorder, to it;
If you have subscription TV, you may already be digital TV ready.
If you don’t know whether or not your TV already has a built-in tuner, check to see if you can receive ABC2 or SBS TWO. If you can see these channels, you are already watching digital TV and you don’t need to change or upgrade.
If you are receiving ABC2 and SBS TWO through your subscription TV service, you will need to check with your provider about access to other free-to-air digital channels.
Can I convert my TV myself or will I need someone to help me?
If you’re able to connect a DVD player or VCR to your television, you should have no trouble connecting a digital set top box. However, if you’re worried about doing it, ask your family, friends or neighbours first. Many TV retailers should also be able to help you. If you choose subscription TV, your service provider should provide full service installation and support.
How much will the digital switchover cost me?
Set top boxes, digital TV recorders and new TVs with built-in tuners are all available with either standard definition (SD) or high definition (HD) tuners.
Standard definition set top boxes typically cost between $30 and $80, while high definition set top boxes are approximately $100. Digital TV recorders generally cost more than set top boxes because of their additional features. Replacing your television set with one that contains a built-in digital tuner will cost more, depending on the brand, size and features that you choose. If you’ve already got digital TV, you won’t need to do anything more.
If I have more than one TV how many set top boxes will I need?
A set top box will be needed for every television you want to convert unless it already has a built-in digital TV tuner.
Can I keep my analogue TV?
Most analogue TVs will be able to receive digital TV by connecting a digital set top box or digital TV recorder. So, unless your analogue TV is too old to be connected to a set top box or digital TV recorder, it won’t need replacing. However, different TVs use different connections, so it’s important to check the connection points on your TV before you purchase a set top box or digital TV recorder. Your local TV supplier should be able to supply you with the correct cabling.
What is the Household Assistance Scheme?
The Australian Government has the Household Assistance Scheme (HAS) in place for eligible households. The scheme involves a government-contracted installer visiting eligible households to supply, install and demonstrate the use of a high definition set top box, at no cost to the recipient. Where the household is entitled, the installer also undertakes any necessary upgrades to the household’s external cabling or antenna.
HELP AT HAND
Foster TV technician Andrew Hepburn (tel. 5682 1079, mobile 0419 582 868) has been working on the switchover for several years – since digital television was first introduced. He has noticed an increase in demand recently, however, for the set top boxes which he sells and installs.
Andrew, who services a wide area of South Gippsland, said that judging by the numbers of enquiries he has had, lots of people appear to be aware of the need to switch to digital TV.
He sells and installs set top boxes and antennas and can help householders tune in their televisions to the new digital channels, too.
“Some people will find they need to change their antenna, especially if they have an indoor antenna, and I can help with that, but the majority of antennas should be OK for digital television,” said Andrew.
He had some reassuring advice, too, for people who have been finding they receive only a weak digital signal.
“The digital signal should be strengthened when the analogue signal is turned off on May 5. It will be able to be turned up – which couldn’t be done before because it would have interfered with the analogue signal.”