The Minister for Regional Communications, Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, has announced the Department of Communications and the Arts (the Department) will undertake a review (the Review) of the Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) service. The VAST service provides satellite delivery of free-to-air (FTA) television to approximately 30,000 travellers and 200,000 households unable to receive reliable local terrestrial transmissions. These latter are largely in regional and remote locations.
The Australian government has provided $117 million in funding to the commercial broadcasters to deliver their services on VAST over ten years. The government also provides funding to the ABC and SBS for VAST as part of their annual appropriations. The VAST service needs to be reviewed in advance of the contracts with commercial broadcasters ending on 30 June 2020.
In reviewing the effectiveness of the VAST service and in examining the long-term, efficient delivery of television services for areas that do not receive reliable terrestrial FTA TV coverage, the Department does not provide specific technology or funding options in this paper.
The review will consider input received on this issues paper to inform the Department’s report to government.
Interested stakeholders are invited to respond to this paper via a submission to the Review by COB Friday, 22 June 2018. The Review is expected to be finalised by August 2018. Submissions to the Review will be published on the Department’s website unless there is an explicit request to not publish all or part of the submission.
The Department will examine and make recommendations consistent with the terms of reference. Following the conclusion of the consultation phase, the Department will consider options for implementing its recommendations, including timeframes.