11 November 2015

Question – Apollo Bay and Skenes Creek television reception

My question is to the Minister for Territories, Local Government and Major Projects, representing the Minister for Communications. In Apollo Bay and Skenes Creek in the Corangamite Electorate there is a big problem with free-to-air television reception after the move to digital. Some residents have lost their reception altogether for days, which is unacceptable. Can the minister update the House on what the Australian Communications and Media Authority is doing to urgently fix this problem?

I thank the member for Corangamite for her question and I congratulate her for her unstinting commitment to her electorate, her never-ending advocacy on behalf of her constituents. She will use whatever medium is available to her. She will use every medium, and we congratulate her for her diligent advocacy on behalf of the people of Apollo Bay and Skenes Creek.
It is a regrettable fact that the people of Apollo Bay and Skenes Creek are facing some significant reception issues as a consequence of the move from analog television to digital television. This is a matter over which the member for Corangamite has been advocating strenuously on their behalf for some time. The regional broadcasters, including WIN, Southern Cross and PRIME, have been in dialogue on these issues. The Australian Communications and Media Authority has conducted a study of the issue. They have installed equipment to monitor the quality of television signals that are received by people in this area and they have done technical studies to work out the options for broadcasters to improve their services.
The television broadcasters have advised the government, I am pleased to inform the House this afternoon, that they intend to finalise a technical solution to improve television reception in Apollo Bay and in Skenes Creek by early 2016. Of the two key elements of what they have advised the government, one is to install what is called a microwave link, which will carry the signal to the local transmitter and will be more resilient to interference than the current network configuration. The other thing they have done, again in consultation with the Australian Communications and Media Authority, which has responsibility for spectrum allocation, is to agree between the authority and those broadcasters that they will move to a different spectrum allocation which, again, will be considerably more resistant to interference issues than the current arrangements.
I want to congratulate the member for Corangamite for her dogged and tenacious pursuit of this issue. The government is working with the broadcasters to deliver an improved outcome. Of course, constituents can also engage with a television antenna specialist to ensure that their antenna is optimally configured, and that is always a wise step to take, but there are things that only the broadcasters and the Communications and Media Authority can do.