What is Digital Free-To-Air TV?

Digital free-to-air TV consists of the same TV channels you currently receive through analog television, but have some additional channels (such as ABC2, ABC3, ABC4 or SBS TWO). Free-to-air broadcasters (Seven, Nine, Ten, the ABC and SBS) are expected to be progressively adding new digital channels (such as 7Two, 7Mate, Go, Gem and One HD) and content over the next few years.


Is digital TV available in my area?

Digital TV is currently available in many areas of Australia. You can visit  http://myswitch.digitalready.gov.au/  which is a useful map search.


What is digital switchover?

Digital switchover is the process of progressively turning off analog TV broadcasts across Australia and replacing them with digital.

Free-to-air television signals are currently broadcast in both analog and digital formats. During the digital switchover all free-to-air analog television signals across Australia will be progressively turned off and the broadcasters will provide only digital television signals.


What benefits will I get from digital television?

Digital television provides vastly improved picture and sound quality, including widescreen pictures and digital audio, including radio broadcasts. Digital television also offers the benefits of more channels and content. For example, the ABC has already introduced ABC2, ABC3 and ABC4 which are only broadcast in digital. SBS has SBS TWO in digital. The Seven, Nine and Ten networks have introduced high definition digital channels. Network Ten launched a digital-only sports channel called ONE HD. Nine Network introduced GO on Channel 99 and GEM on 90. Seven Network have launched free-to-air digital channels 7TWO and 7Mate. Gradually, each of the free-to-air television broadcasters will be introducing new digital channels and content over time.


What is Freeview?

Freeview is the free digital television service in Australia. It comprises all the channels from Australia’s free-to-view broadcasters, including the ABC, SBS, Seven Network, Nine Network, Network Ten, Southern Cross, Prime and WIN. Freeview provides several more channels than would otherwise be received via analog television. ONE HD is also simulcast in standard definition in metropolitan areas. In the future, these simulcast channels will be replaced with unique programming. To find out which channels are available in each region of Australia on Freeview, go to www.freeview.com.au

To receive all the channels that are offered on Freeview in your area, you will need to convert to high definition (HD) digital TV equipment. Qld TV & Telecommunications will be able to help you find the most appropriate products for your needs.


How do I know if I’m watching digital TV?

If your TV isn’t capable of receiving digital signals or if you don’t have a digital set-top box, it’s likely that you’re still viewing TV that is transmitted via analog broadcasts. An easy way to tell is whether you receive any digital channels is to try and view Go on channel 99 or 7Two on channel 72 – these are standard definition digital channels and if you can view them, it means you’re receiving digital broadcasts.


What are high definition (HD) channels?

High definition broadcasts have image resolution which are superior to standard definition (SD) pictures and to the existing analog television broadcast.

Australian broadcasters are currently using four different levels of HD:


  1920 active pixels x 1080 lines @ 50Hz interlaced
  1440 active pixels x 1080 lines @ 50Hz interlaced
  1280 active pixels x 720 lines @ 50Hz progressive
  720 active pixels x 576 lines @ 50Hz progressive


The benefits of HD pictures at the highest resolution are particularly noticeable on larger screen sets and when using projection equipment.

HD pictures are also ghost-free and in widescreen format. When viewed on a HD capable television screen the viewer can enjoy cinema-quality viewing with Dolby Digital sound (where available with some HD programming).


Can I get digital TV with an indoor antenna?

If you currently rely on an indoor antenna to get analog TV you may need to upgrade to an external antenna to receive adequate and reliable digital signals. This is because Australian Communication and Media Authority planning for digital TV services assumes that the receiving system will be an external antenna. However, in areas of high signal strength, an indoor antenna may be sufficient to receive all digital free-to-air channels.


Still can’t get your local digital TV channels?

If your household can’t adequately receive your local terrestrial digital TV channels, the Australian Government has funded a new satellite service for digital TV called VAST (Viewer Access Satellite Television). The VAST service will give viewers access to the same number of channels available in capital cities, as well as better picture sound and quality. You may also be eligible for a government subsidy. You can find more information on the governments website http://www.digitalready.gov.au/index.aspx


Will the weather affect digital TV?

If you are living in an area that experiences certain weather patterns, such as heavy rain or frequent storms, there can be an impact on digital television. This is much the same as the impact weather can have on analog television, however the on-screen results can be quite different. This kind of weather can produce snow or ghosting with analog signals. But with digital, the result can be freezing of the picture, pixilation, or a temporary loss of signal.


What should I do if my digital broadcasting freezes or pixilates?

This depends on how often this is occurring. If it is regular, you should contact Qld TV & Telecommunications to see if the situation can be improved.


Whats the difference between high definition & standard definition TV?

Both standard and high definition television are digital formats.  Standard definition (SD) television provides digital images and sound that is considerably better than analog. High definition (HD) television is an enhancement that provide higher resolution images and Dolby Digital surround sound. If you connect a set top box to an analog television or have a television with a SD digital tuner, you will receive all the standard definition free-to-air digital channels. To see all the benefits of HD television, including the free-to-air HD channels, you need a television capable of displaying high definition images that either has a built-in HD tuner or is connected to a HD set top box.


What does an electronic program guide do (EPG button on your remote)?

An EPG is the electronic version of a printed program guide. Using your remote control you will be able to see on-screen what’s on now and what’s on next for all free-to-air services. You may also be able to search for a particular program by theme or category e.g. sporting programs or movies.

Extra text and picture information (such as story line, episode description, etc.) can be called up as well. The EPG is available at the click of a remote control button. Some models will allow you to set a reminder using the ‘OK’ button on the remote for a programm that will start at a later time.


What is closed captioning?

Closed captioning provides deaf and hearing-impaired viewers with a text version of the dialogue, songs and sound effects included in television programs. The text is usually shown in a black box at the bottom of the picture. Current analog captioning is received on analog receivers with teletext capability. Captioning is normally closed to viewers but can be accessed by those who need it.

Closed captioning does not interfere with normal viewing. Some digital television set top boxes and integrated digital televisions include closed captioning decoding capability.

Consumers intending to purchase a digital television set top box or an integrated digital television and use closed captioning should, before purchase, check on the set top box or integrated digital televisions capabilities.

All digital television receivers carrying the Australian Government’s digital TV ready labels for either standard definition or high definition are capable of displaying closed captioning.

Closed captioning of programming is incorporated in all English language news and current affairs programs as well as for all prime time programs (6.00pm to 10.30pm).

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