Television reception problems continue to plague local viewers, with the the dreaded ‘atmospheric ducting’ problem interfering with the signal of commercial broadcasts at times of temperature fluctuation. Unfortunately these fluctuations occur at the beginning and end of the day, coinciding with peak viewing times.
An indication that broadcasters were aiming to fix the problem by this summer has not been met. See earlier story here.
Resident Marian Rogan became a magnet for complaints about the interruptions, given representations she has made over the years to broadcasters and politicians in an effort to upgrade the transmission towers to overcome the problem. She feels it is now time for community action, as she has exhausted all avenues as a sole protester.
The latest response from communications minister Mitch Fifield, delivered via local member Barnaby Joyce, suggests those experiencing problems could apply to access VAST (Viewer Access Satellite Television).
“Should an application for VAST be denied, the applicant can submit a complaint to the ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority),” Mr Fifield said. “The ACMA will then require the broadcasters to provide evidence that reliable terrestrial reception is available at the applicant’s address or alternatively approve the application.”
According to the VAST information website, the township falls into the ‘good’ category for TV reception, meaning residents won’t automatically qualify for satellite access.
“Don’t (the commercial broadcasters) have a license?” Mrs Rogan’s husband Bob said. “Aren’t they bound by that licence to provide good service? The government doesn’t seem to care.”
While it may be a means to an end, he doesn’t feel VAST itself is a satisfactory alternative, given that it doesn’t provide local content.
He feared that the threshold for ‘acceptable service’ may be something like receiving signal 90 per cent of the time which the service may reach, the issue being that the 10 per cent the stations are offline are peak viewing times.
“People have to complain in bulk,” he said. “It’s the only answer.
“We all know there’s a technical problem and that it’s expensive to fix. It might be acceptable to them, but they’re not living in Tenterfield.”
Mr Rogan said before the switch to digital television, it wasn’t an issue.
“Why in this day and age is technology making us go backwards? For us, digital TV has been a backwards step.”
Information on the application process for VAST is available here.