Is digital television a boon or a disaster?

Is digital television a boon or a disaster?

Although you may not have noticed if your main television viewing approach is YouTube or Channel BT, Australia is due to switch off its analogue TV network and move to an all-digital model in 2013. Mark Day at The Australian discusses one of the possible consequences of this changeover: rural areas in “signal blackspots” with no television signal at all:

Budget cuts at the Australian Communications and Media Authority have forced it to suspend a key program to test for digital television black spots. The field testing, which is vital to deliver on the promise that the end of analogue television in 2013 will not leave viewers worse off, was frozen amid fears that the tests may have been conducted incorrectly.

Compared to the UK (which is running a region by region changeover backed with a massive awareness campaign), Australia’s move to digital TV, which promises better picture quality and the ability to deliver multiple channels, has been fairly low-key. Have you benefitted from the switch to digital, or found that the experience is fraught? Share your thoughts in the comments.


  • Digital is much nicer to watch, very crisp picture great for 1080p, but get confused sometimes over the digital and HD channels showing different programmes.

    But I like it but would think that rural folks would be getting a raw deal if they can’t have tv…THAT’S pretty 3rd world country sounding if you ask me

  • Digital TV is awesome, especially HD. The HD picture quality can be jaw dropping at times, depending on the program.

    I do wonder though, how many non-tech savvy people, each up watching the SD channels by mistake on their new HD tvs instead of the HD ones. Or think everything on a HD channel is in-fact a native HD program and then wonder why it looks bad.

    We do have a signal booster to improve reception though, otherwise the signal is too weak for some channels (analogue and digital), particularly SBS.

    Where on analogue you might get a fuzzy picture due to poor reception, with digital you either have a signal or you don’t.

    But with a little signal booster box, everything seems to be going well.

  • All my viewing is ABC iView and channel BT so I don’t really care at all about the changeover. But my mum and my girlfriend both have digital and it looks and works great. We’re hardly in rural areas, though.

    This is definitely something that needs to be fixed. Because people in rural areas don’t have access to good internet either, so they don’t have my option of ignoring this.

  • Digital TV has made my viewing experience much greater – i bought a SD box to watch the World cup soccer in 2006, and was amazed at the difference – i could tell it was raining, as opposed to the matches before where I thought the players were just crap – so there’s a big plus for me.

    I do love the extra ABC channels, but the fact there’s heaps of Channel 10 channels, and no actual different programming, peeves me no end – and makes things like TiVo completely useless in australia.

    how about some more actual channels, guys?

    what’s the legislation say?

  • I haven’t watched an analogue channel for years now, and I get a rude shock when I accidentally hit the tuner button on my TV remote too many times. It just looks horrible in comparison.

  • One of the biggest barriers to adoption has been that successive Minister’s have shifted the switch-over, often claiming poor adoption rates.

    Well, duh. Adoption rates will always be slow while the incentive to upgrade is far away. As the date gets closer, people will start buying DTV technology. Everytime the date shifts, people put off upgrading (unless technology attrition means they need a new TV anyway).

    Since I watch most of my TV on a 15.4″ screen, I went ahead and bought a digital tuner. The DTV selection is not that great in the nation’s capital but I’m hopeful that when I move to a _major_ city next year, I’ll be more impressed by what’s on offer.

    Picture is nice enough but downloads often offer better quality.

  • I don’t like it.
    I have a nice old tv and i don’t watch tv very much so i don’t want to spend money on a new one. But i’ll have too now.

    Also i have found that in our are a the signel is week and in storms it just totaly cuts out. Where as with analouge it would still work in a storm even if it were a little fuzzy.

  • Australia needs to go the same direction as FreeView did in the UK.

    More channels would be great.. or to even have the interactive sport services IE The Red Button – for camera angles, referee audio and player cams for example.

    The difference in this case is that Australians don’t pay a television license, so all commercial programs need to reach a wide audience that (population wise) we simply cant achieve to the same level as the UK.

    That being said, networks should get their guide issues sorted as well. How annoying is it not to be able to look up what is on tv for the night?! All these copyright issues regarding program listings is garbage and is just another reason for the delayed take up in the digital spectrum.

  • I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t get a box. We live in a regional area and free2air tv reception sucked, we could only get 2 stations perfectly before digital, so we went paytv for our own sanity. But digital is a huge improvement. It has so much potential and tv channels are dragging their feet. Channel 10 is the only commercial station that has full digital technology currently I understand. At least the ABC and SBS are leading the way

  • I too am in a metro area with no SBS. I can get it on analog though. Maybe they have issues?

    I get that the spectrum could be used better, but I don’t believe that australian stations have the freedom to use it.

    Living in perth, i’d like to see an ‘east coast’ feed that allowed to see live events *Shock* live….

  • A place with no TV? Where, I’ll move there in a heartbeat. Give me a half-decent DSL plan and I’ll just suck down the few hours of decent tv available worldwide these days and spend the rest of the time enjoying a community that thinks rather than talks shit prompted by TV.

    If only the same places with no TV would ban women’s ragazines as well, it’d be heaven.

    Better still, with a one bedroom flat no unaffordable anywhere near Melbourne, property prices in a no-TV reception place might actually drop to an affordable level!

  • This rural dweller is still waiting for digital tv to reach out here. There may be a test signal about for SBS I think but that’s it. Meanwhile all the urbanites get to watch the improved programming on channel 10 HD that wont get replayed for years thus those out here get to miss out again.

  • Of course the other snafu in the whole digital TV debate is the potential loss of Australia’s vibrant community television scene. Despite promises from successive Governments that the sector will be “looked after” nothing has happened, no timeframe for any possible change and already one casualty in Access 31 Perth.
    Across the country hundreds of young people have got their start in the TV business thanks to community TV as well as over 2 million a month who watch it. So hello digital, goodbye community.

  • Its not that hard, a decent antennae, a decent dvb tv ( preferably with built in program guide ) and “bob is your uncle ” I’m in outback FNQ and get 28 Digital stations all perfect as.

  • I can only get 7 and SBS of the Sydney stations the others are either not there or unwatchable. Have upgraded antenna still no good. Do not bother trying to watch digital. One other problem the sound is proving difficult for a member of the family who is hearing impared to follow, there is too much difference between the soft and loud. Digital TV via the internet is OK. I appear to be in a digital black spot. What will they do before 2013? Will all of the stations be streamed on the new broadband network? Digital broadcasting by radio waves seems to have big limitations.

  • I have been using a cheap SD box for years without issue, it was just plug and play. Even with an indoor antenna it was great & external it was perfect….. but with the extra channels and HD coming online I decided to upgrade to a HD box. I expected it to be better than the SD. How wrong I was… the first day i set it up all was good… next day I had pixellating & no signal messages for CH10. Moved the cable and it came back but I lost CH9. For the last week I have had no CH9 no big deal as if I had to pick a channel to lose it would be CH9 as I mainly watch 10, SBS, ABC & sometimes 7.
    Tonight I lost it as CH10 started to pixelate right in the middle of a show. Pulled out the neatly set up HD box out of the cabinet and re set in up in a higher position and I now have full channels after 10 minutes of stuffing around although I don’t expect it to last long. Its annoying the place that I have put it as it’s difficult to use the remote and has the red, white & yellow cords hanging over the front of the unit away from the external aerial coax.
    Long story short, the HD box seems to be overly sensitive to it’s location & the slightest movement of the cables or HD box can cause pixelation or complete channel loss whereas the SD box just worked perfectly where ever it was located.

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