The final move to digital television in Australia is still a long way off, with latest estimates putting it sometime in 2013.
It’s taking so long because getting the Australian government to organise something like this is like getting an Amish family to produce a video podcast about World of Warcraft.
The big claim on the official site is that there will be fifteen new free-to-air channels starting up sometime in 2009, ten standard and five in HD.
<sarcasm> Well, that should get the punters ditching their rabbit ears and flocking to Harvey Norman for a set-top box. </sarcasm>
The thing is, those of us with set-top boxes already know that those fifteen channels are already there, but the only ones being used for new content are ABC2, SBS News and Ten HD. Channels 7 and 9 are just showing their basic broadcast across all three of their stations.
On the official government website it announces a big-arse industry conference in March to “discuss the future of Digital TV in Australia”.
All the interested parties will be there, so presumably that’s where all the bribery, blackmail and back-scratching will happen. And we definitely won’t be freeviewing anything until all that’s done.
It’ll be a nauseating exercise in faux-concern and ham-fisted negotiation, as the government tries to save face on its bungled implementation and the networks try to get away with doing as little as possible.
In the long term it might make them a viable competitor to Pay TV, but with streaming media just around the corner even that’s looking shaky.
In the short term, and this is where their focus tends to lie, all it does is increase expenses while spreading the fixed revenue base more thinly. No-one wins.
Except maybe the viewers, but no-one cares about them.