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Viewer Access Satellite TV (VAST)

Viewer access satellite television FAQ

Viewer access satellite television (VAST) is a satellite-delivered, broadcasting service for people in remote areas and terrestrial digital television ‘black spots’ who won’t receive digital television once analog services are switched off in their licence area.

More information is on the Department of Communications website.

What services are broadcast on VAST?

Both commercial and national services are broadcast on VAST, including multi-channels where available.

Viewers receiving VAST can view services from their satellite licence area. The commercial channels provided to viewers will depend on which services are available terrestrially in their area.

In addition, because the satellite service is not local, a regional and local news service will also be provided.

Am I eligible to receive VAST?

Anyone may apply for and be authorised to receive national broadcasting services (ABC, SBS) on VAST.

However, specific rules and a conditional access scheme apply to viewers wanting access to commercial television broadcasting services via VAST.

More information is on the myVAST website.

What does ‘special permission’ to receive commercial broadcasting services via the Aurora satellite refer to?

‘Special permission’ refers to a permission given by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to a broadcaster to broadcast their commercial television services outside their licence area to the viewer.

It means the ACMA has authorised broadcasters to transmit via satellite to your particular location. If you have changed address since receiving special permission, that authorisation will no longer be valid.

Viewers who have been receiving analog television commercial broadcasting services via the Aurora satellite service can apply now to receive digital commercial services provided on VAST.

Viewers can check their coverage on the mySwitch website.

What are ‘open access areas’?

'Open access areas' geographic areas where the VAST administrator (see below) has decided to permit automatic VAST access for viewers before the eligibility window that would normally apply (currently 6 months before switchover). The VAST administrator may make this decision for areas where viewers have inadequate analog terrestrial reception and are unlikely to be able to get adequate reception of all applicable digital commercial terrestrial broadcasting services after the end of the simulcast period. Viewers in these ‘open access areas’ will be eligible to access VAST automatically and will not need to wait for the eligibility window to open.

Currently, no open access areas have identified.

When am I eligible to apply for VAST?

It depends on your location and category of eligibility.

Viewers located in remote licence areas, or who are currently receiving commercial television broadcasting services via the Aurora satellite service under ‘special permission’ from the ACMA, are eligible to apply for VAST now.

Having access to ABC and SBS only via Aurora is not sufficient to qualify for full VAST access.

Viewers travelling in caravans and houseboats may be eligible to receive temporary access to VAST and can apply for VAST now. Such travellers may be able to renew their access.

More information is on the myVAST website.

Can I get commercial services on VAST earlier than six months before the switchover in my area?

Generally, access to commercial services on VAST only becomes available in an area six months before the area converts to digital only television services. The exceptions to this rule are for:

  1. viewers in remote licence areas; and
  2. viewers recognised as not having adequate reception of terrestrial services as a result of a commercial broadcaster being given ‘special permission’ by the ACMA to broadcast outside its normal licence area out of area to the viewer.

How do I apply for VAST?

Go to mySwitch and enter your address. When the map showing your address appears, click on the ‘Satellite eligibility’ tab and follow the instructions.

How much does it cost to apply for VAST?

There is no charge for applying to VAST. If you are approved, you will need to purchase relevant reception equipment.

For more information see:

  1. Household Assistance Scheme; and
  2. Satellite Subsidy Scheme.

What do I need to purchase to receive VAST if I have been approved?

If you have been approved for VAST, you will need:

  1. satellite reception equipment (including a compatible satellite dish);
  2. a set top box;
  3. a VAST smart card.

Do I need to purchase satellite reception equipment before applying for VAST?

No, you should not purchase any equipment before you have applied for and been approved for VAST.

Where can I purchase satellite reception equipment?

Your local television antenna installer should be able to provide you with the appropriate equipment. For details of your local endorsed antenna installers, visit the myswitch website.

What do I do if I currently receive analog commercial television services via the Aurora satellite service?

If you are currently receiving analog commercial television services via the Aurora satellite, you may be eligible to receive VAST now.

However, you must be receiving Aurora commercial services via ‘special permission’ from the ACMA. You must also be located at the same address for which Aurora services were requested for the special permission to remain valid.

What do I do after I have lodged my application for VAST?

The VAST administrator has:

  1. five business days to process applications from viewers who are automatically eligible for VAST (remote areas, in receipt of out of area special permission, or in recognised regional blackspots); and
  2. 15 business days to process applications from viewers in areas typically having good coverage.

You should wait for this period of time to pass before enquiring further into your application.

What do I do once my application is approved?

Once your application for VAST is approved, you will need to provide the VAST administrator with the number of the smart card that is included with the VAST set top box. Once this information is provided to the satellite operator you will be able to receive VAST services.

What can I do if my application for VAST is refused?

If your application for VAST is made when you are eligible to receive VAST services, and refused by the VAST administrator, you may lodge a complaint with the ACMA.

The ACMA may investigate your complaint if:

  1. The VAST administrator has refused to approve your application for VAST; or
  2. The VAST administrator approved your access to VAST but later revoked that approval; or
  3. The VAST administrator has not dealt with your application within 15 business days.

What can I do if my application to VAST is refused, and I would like access to national services only on VAST?

If you are refused access to commercial services, you will still get access for national services only.

More information is on the myVAST website.

What is the Satellite Subsidy Scheme?

The Satellite Subsidy Scheme (SSS) is a program administered by the Digital Switchover Taskforce. It has been developed to assist those viewers who have been receiving terrestrial analog television services via a council-run ‘self-help’ transmitter to install satellite equipment to receive the VAST service.

More information is on the Department of Communications website.

What is the Household Assistance Scheme?

The Household Assistance Scheme (HAS) is a program administered by the Digital Switchover Taskforce. The HAS is designed to ahelp viewers receiving the maximum rate of certain government pensions and payments, who do not currently have access to digital television, in the installation of equipment to enable reception of digital television.

More information is on the Department of Communications website.

Who is the VAST administrator?

The VAST administrator is RBA Holdings Pty Ltd (RBA), which represents regional commercial television broadcasters.

RBA may be contacted at vast.administration@mysattv.com.au or phone 1300 993 376.

The VAST administrator considers all applications to receive VAST services.

What is the conditional access scheme (CAS)?

The CAS governs the circumstances under which access may be given to VAST. The CAS has been registered by the ACMA for all parts of Australia: Northern Australia TV3 (Queensland and Northern Territory), South Eastern Australia TV3 (New South Wales, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, South Australia and Tasmania) and Western Australia TV3. Copies of the CAS for each licence area are available.

What happens if my access for VAST has been approved, but I still cannot watch VAST services?

You should contact the VAST administrator to enquire on the status of your application. The VAST administrator, may be contacted at vast.administration@mysattv.com.au or phone 1300 993 376.

Last updated: 20 May 2016

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