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Digital broadcasting in Australia

Digital broadcasting transmits a broadcast signal by encoding it as 0s and 1s, like the digital code used in computers. This allows both radio and television to make more efficient use of the available radiofrequency spectrum.

What is digital television?

Digital television is a system for broadcasting and receiving television using digitally compressed signals, as opposed to the analog signals used by traditional television broadcasting. These digitally compressed signals require decoding by a specifically designed television set, or a standard television set coupled with a set-top box.

One of the major benefits of digital television is that it makes more efficient use of the broadcast spectrum - signals can be compressed to provide four or more channels in the same bandwidth required for only one channel of analog television, yet provide better sound and about five times more picture information (picture elements, or pixels) than conventional television.

Digital television also allows broadcasters to provide a greater range of features—such as multichannels, high definition television (HD TV) and an electronic program guide (EPG).

Digital broadcasting in Australia

Television

Digital television transmissions commenced on 1 January 2001 in Australia's five major capital cities—Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

Outside of the major metropolitan areas, digital television transmissions have begun in many regional centres and are continuing to be implemented across Australia.

The Australian Government has announced that all free-to-air television broadcasters in Australia will complete the conversion from analog transmission to digital transmission by the end of 2013.

Radio

Digital radio has the potential to deliver a range of new and innovative services to listeners. Its introduction will enable the industry to respond to increasing competition from new digital technologies.

In May 2007, the Australian Parliament passed legislation that will facilitate the introduction of digital radio in Australia by 1 January 2009.

The legislation is premised on digital radio being a supplement to existing radio services in Australia, rather than a replacement technology.

Broadcasters

As well as digital transmission of existing analog stations, there are currently five additional multi-channel services provided by the ABC, SBS, Seven Network, Nine Network and Ten Network:

  • ABC2
    ABC2 been on air since March 2005 and features a wide range of programs, including ABC TV favourites and ABC1 shows.
  • SBS World News
    The World News Channel is an all-news digital service which transmits 20 hours a day and broadcasts a total of 140 hours of international news bulletins each week.
  • Seven HD
    7HD is a major development for the Seven Network, creating and commissioning new Australian programs that will only be seen on this channel.
  • Nine HD
    Channel Nine broadcasts full High Definition (HD) programs on the HD service. New programs, including 'breakaway' documentaries, movies and mini-series that have not been shown on the standard definition channel will also be available for viewers.
  • Ten HD
    TenHD is Ten's high definition channel. It has existed for a number of years, but has only recently started broadcasting content that is not available on Channel Ten.

SBS also currently provides two multilingual radio services with its digital television services, and the ABC transmits its two internet radio services, dig and ABC Jazz, along with its digital television services.

Free-to-air television broadcasters have formed a non-profit organisation, Freeview , to promote digital television in Australia.

Useful links

Television

Radio

Last updated: 6th February 2009

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