In December 2007, the Australian Government announced its plans for a nationwide switchover to digital television by the end of 2013. That end arrived today with Melbourne being the last capital city to be switched off. If you haven’t heard outrage over the dancing ants going away, it’s because this transition was actually well managed.
A transition of this scale, being managed over a substantial period of time doesn’t come cheap, with the Analog switchoff costing Australia almost $40 Million dollars. The $37.9 millon was distributed across the 6 years of the project and went to public education as well as the set-top-box scheme that ensured elderly Australians wouldn’t be without their TV. The full breakdown is listed below.
- $8.5 million for the Australian Communications and Media Authority to perform technical projects, such as an evaluation of digital TV transmission and reception throughout Australia
- $4.8 million for a ‘Digital Tracker’ to assess issues such as public awareness of digital switchover, intention of households to convert and actual conversion rates
- $1 million for researching digital reception problems in dwellings with a shared TV antenna system
- $6.7 million for a labeling scheme to clearly indicate which products are digitally ready, ensuring Australian consumers can be informed and confident about what products will suit their needs
- $16.9 million for the Digital Switchover Taskforce, who coordinate the switchover program within the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.
Over 35 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, have already made the switch to digital. Over 30 countries, including Brazil, New Zealand and India, are in the process of switching.
Digital broadcast is superior to analog in almost every single way and with HDTVs offering large sizes and better quality, most consumers upgraded by choice, rather than being forced by the switch off. I have memories of sitting on a plastic covered couch at my grand parents house leaving the seat only to change the channel which was done by hand back then. The tuning of channels was never a fun process with UHF and VHF frequencies to work through. Screen sizes were tiny by today’s standard and terrible in quality, particularly compared to 4K.
Now we wait for the Digital switch off, when content is distributed completely over the internet. Check back on this post in 2030.