[Offtopic] The spare digital tv channels

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Mon Jun 26 02:43:33 EST 2006


ReelTime raises spare ideas
Jane Schulze JUNE 22, 2006 

Internet access through television aerials has been raised as a potential 
use of one of Australia's two spare digital TV channels.

Submissions to the Australian Communications and Media Authority's 
inquiry into the future uses of spare digital channels ..

(1) ReelTime managing director John Karantzis said one could be used to 
improve internet access ... "We view the internet as transmission 
technology agnostic, and datacasting could form one of the many diverse 
paths available to deliver IP protocol." 

We consider that the two unassigned channels could be utilised - in a 
manner consistent with the Government's convergence model - to support 
the Government's broadband penetration targets as an ancillary 
transmission medium for the internet," he said. 

(2) The most widely touted option for the spare TV channels - a mobile TV 
service - was strongly supported by Hutchison Telecommunications .. 
Mobile TV functionality could be efficiently included in video mobile or 
3G handsets, "providing a more cost-effective and multifunctional 
handheld device that is convenient to consumers". 

"Consumers who would not otherwise be prepared to go out and separately 
purchase a free-to-air digital set-top box ... may well be prepared to 
upgrade to a mobile TV-enabled mobile handset," it said, noting that on 
average consumers upgrade their mobile phones every two years. 

(3) The Screen Producers Association of Australia again called for the 
Government to use the spare channels to introduce a fourth free-to-air TV 

"We believe that the available evidence unequivocally supports the 
market's capacity to absorb another competitor," it said.  "Commercial 
free-to-air network profits are among the highest in the world, averaging 
over 16 per cent before tax for the last five years, which is three times 
the average 90-day interest rate of all major banks." 

(4) The Australian Film Commission suggested one of the spare channels be 
used for the new indigenous TV service to which the Government last year 
committed to contribute $48.5million over four years. 

"The AFC understands that this service will be a niche narrowcast service 
that will support the production and broadcasting of more diverse 
programming, such as indigenous news, children's and drama programs," the 
commission said. 

(5) In its submission, the Institute of Public Affairs said the 
Government should maintain flexible regulatory settings to encourage new 
services to prosper. 

"If government is serious about providing new media and content for 
Australian citizens, it should introduce flexible, consumer-responsive 
services on these two channels," the IPA said. That meant more flexible 
spectrum licences should be issued for the new service. 

"Whether this would result in two new free-to-air commercial broadcasters 
or as experimental internet delivery mechanisms or as subscription TV 
networks is a question that the market ... should be left to answer. 
Anything else invites significant inefficiencies, leading to a loss of 
consumer welfare." 

(6) But the free-to-air industry's peak body, Free TV Australia, argued 
that no new services should be allowed on the spare channels until 
spectrum planning for all digital TV services was finished. 

"It is vital that deployment of any services in the datacasting channels 
do not disrupt a smooth transition to digital TV ... this requires 
interference and interoperability issues to be carefully managed," it 

(The) ACMA provided a report on its suggestions, based on the 
submissions, to the Government last week but it has yet to be released. 
The Australian 

Cheers all ..
Stephen Loosley
Victoria, Australia

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