Discussion paper

Going digital: tracing the transition to digital terrestrial television in Australia

Broadcasting Information technology Digital communications Digital television Australia

The transition from analogue to digital TV is seen by many as long overdue in a broadcast industry which has often failed to keep pace with revolutionary changes in the telecommunications and information services industries.

•    Television has been an important political and cultural force in Australia since its introduction in the 1950s.
•    Analogue technology has been used to deliver television broadcasts—at first in black and white, and since the 1970s, in colour.
•    Analogue transmissions are scheduled to cease, however, in 2013. They will be replaced by digital technology.
•    Digital technology uses broadcasting spectrum more efficiently and offers audiences a significantly better viewing experience, delivering superior images, better audio quality and improved reception.
•    The development of digital television began internationally in the 1980s. In Australia, the road to digital conversion began in the late 1990s.
•    This paper traces that road, which has been complex, and arguably, strewn with mistakes and missed opportunities.
•    The paper discusses also the difficulties that have been encountered by policymakers in attempting to develop and implement a digital policy which satisfies broadcasters, grabs the imagination of consumers and encourages innovative use of digital technology that goes beyond a passive television experience.

Image: End of analogue TV, hugovk / flickr

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