Understandably, what most people want to know about the budget is whether their wallets will get any fatter. That aside, one area where the budget has a surprising number of announcements is in TV and radio funding. Here are five elements to note.
Yay! $376.5 million for digital TV switchover
As you’d expect, the government is continuing to fund switchover, with the majority of these funds used to help pay for set-top boxes for pensioners. There has been some largely ill-informed criticism of that scheme, but it continues. By the end of 2013, digital switchover will be complete, which might mean HD channels actually start being used for HD content. We hope.
Yay! $158.1 million for SBS
An additional $30 million-odd a year over five years is being granted to SBS. One visible result? A new indigenous-focused digital TV channel, due to launch in the second half of this year.
Yay! Continued regional radio
When digital TV transmissions cease, radio services delivered to remote areas via Optus’ Aurora satellites will also stop. The budget includes funding to ensure that ABC radio services which use those satellites for transmission will switch to the government-owned Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) services.
Yay! $12.5 million for community radio
Funding spread over four years will be used to encourage more local content on community radio stations. With networked content increasingly common on commercial stations, that’s a good move (though I bet community radio would like even more).
Boo! The commercial networks are getting more money.
Mumbrella put this one so well we’re just going to quote it:
Dr Mumbo was delighted to read via Crikey that the real battlers of the budget – Australia’s free TV networks – are getting another $70m discount on their licence fees and a further $143m towards the digital switchover. In unrelated news, Australia will not be keeping its promise on aid to developing nations owing to budgetary constraints.