Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (11:21): I would like to thank the members who have contributed to the debate on the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Digital Television) Bill 2012. The bill contains a number of measures to improve the regulatory framework for digital television services. In particular, it will facilitate earlier access to services known as the Viewer Access Satellite Television service, or VAST, for viewers in areas unable to receive adequate digital reception after switchover. The bill will enable the conditional access scheme administrator for the VAST service to specify open access areas to allow viewers in these areas immediate access to VAST. The bill also broadens the definition of applicable services used by the scheme administrator to assess eligibility to access VAST.
As at 2 May 2012, over 68,400 households in remote and regional Australia had already been connected to VAST. The deal also gives the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy greater flexibility in varying the dates in switchover determinations. It allows the minister to vary the date for a licensed areas digital switchover to any future date the minister specifies, provided that date is before 31 December 2013. Similar amendments will be made in respect of digital-only local market area determinations.
The amendments in this bill will provide the government and the broadcasting industry with the necessary flexibility to deliver a managed and efficient final stage of digital switchover. I thank all members who are supporting this bill’s proposals, and I commend the bill to the House.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Ordered that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.