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VAST: Australia's New Digital TV Satelite Service

Back in April last year, the Australian Government announced a landmark agreement that will eventually provide high quality digital TV services to viewers who cannot receive terrestrial digital TV (ie, digital TV services from transmission towers in their area).

By Garry Cratt

Viewers in most areas of Eastern Australia are now, or will soon be, able to receive the full range of digital TV programming from the new digital TV satellite service that their city cousins have come to expect.

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The new service is called VAST: Viewer Access Satellite Television and is operated by Southern Cross Media and Imparja.

Funded by the Australian Government, it will ensure access to high quality (SD and HD) free-to-air TV delivered by satellite for viewers living in all areas not covered by a digital terrestrial TV tower.

The VAST service will operate in northern and southern time zones, providing services for viewers in Queensland and the Northern Territory based on Brisbane time and services for viewers in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania based on Sydney time.

Vast will deliver the following 17 digital channels:     

A “slimmed-down” channel lineup consisting of ABC and SBS services has been available to customers living in the TV1 licence area (Remote Central and Eastern Australia – see map overleaf) since December 15th, 2010.

The satellite service for viewers in Western Australia is currently under negotiation with Prime and WIN Television and details will be released soon.

So it is obvious that remote Australia will not only get a more reliable service with VAST, their choice of programs will also be significantly expanded.

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Who is eligible?

The service is primarily designed for viewers who live in geographic regions that won’t be covered by digital TV signals when the analog TV signals are turned off. It is quite possible (indeed likely) that many viewers is deep fringe areas who are “only just” receiving an analog signal at the moment, will not receive any digital signal at all.

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