PREVELLY, Gnarabup and Gracetown residents will be able to apply for government subsidies in September to help cover the cost of switching to digital satellite television.
Local resident Peter Collell, who was originally involved in the Prevelly self-help television tower scheme, said he received confirmation from the Digital Switchover Taskforce last Thursday that assistance was coming for those who receive a self-help TV signal.
A letter from Luke Ryan, the taskforce’s assistant manager of satellite subsidy policy and eligibility, in response to Mr Collell’s queries, indicated two subsidies for self-help TV signal recipients will be available in September and that the cost to switch to free-to-air digital satellite television for some will be $250.
Others, who receive some full pensions, may not have to pay anything for digital satellite equipment to be installed at their homes, Mr Ryan’s letter states.
He explained that analog television signals will be turned off at the end of next year and self-help TV towers, like the one serving Prevelly and Gnarabup, will not be upgraded to accept digital transmission signals.
To receive the 16 free-to-air digital television channels broadcast by the ABC, SBS and commercial stations, Prevelly and Gnarabup residents will need a satellite dish and set-top box to switch to the VAST (Viewer Access Satellite Television) service, Mr Ryan stated.
There are no on-going fees or costs to access the VAST service, he stated, and the Federal Government would provide practical and financial assistance to switch to the VAST digital service through the Satellite Subsidy Scheme and the Household Assistance Scheme (HAS), which both open for applications in September.
Mr Ryan advised residents to look for home-delivered letters in early September explaining the subsidy schemes and how to apply.
His letter stated that the Satellite Subsidy Scheme would provide a high-definition VAST set-top box, satellite dish and cabling, and that the equipment would be supplied and installed by a government-contracted installer for a one-off household payment of $250.
The HAS scheme, the letter stated, would provide the digital satellite equipment, installation, 12-months after-care support and equipment warranty, and an antenna upgrade if applicable, at no cost to eligible residents who receive a full age pension, disability support pension or Department of Veterans Affairs service pension, carer payment or Department of Veterans Affairs income support supplement.
The Human Services Department will also send letters to residents who are potentially eligible for the HAS, Mr Ryan stated.
Mr Collell said there was a help line, 1800 2010 13, where residents could find out more about assistance available to people who currently received television through self-help towers.
He said he believed Gracetown residents were in the same situation as those in Prevelly and Gnarabup.
“We’ll all have satellite dishes on our roofs, it’s going to look like a space command centre down here (Prevelly) with all those satellite dishes,” Mr Collell said. “Some people have jumped the gun and have already paid for dishes. They may not be eligible for the subsidies in September, unless they want a second dish and set-top box.
“I think it is important that people know the subsidies are coming.”