Proposed guidelines for digital television retransmission services by self-help providers | ACMA

Proposed guidelines for digital television retransmission services by self-help providers

ACMA media release 111/2011 – 19 October 

The Australian Communications and Media Authority today issued new draft guidelines for retransmission of digital television services, including retransmission of services provided by the new Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) satellite service.

'These proposed guidelines will help viewers across Australia to receive the full range and quality of digital television services available in their market, regardless of who delivers the services,' said Giles Tanner, General Manager of the ACMA's Digital Transition division.

In small or isolated population centres where terrestrial television reception is poor or non-existent, local organisations such as councils and mining companies frequently provide television services on a self-help basis. These 'self-help providers' retransmit the commercial and national television broadcasting services using their own infrastructure.

Typically self-help service providers source their television programs from the nearest terrestrial broadcasting services, an arrangement which is known as an 'off-air feed.' In the most isolated areas, however, retransmissions may be sourced from the appropriate satellite television service for the market. While 'off-air feed' arrangements are unproblematic in the digital television environment, as they were for analog, major changes to satellite television flowing from the launch of the VAST service have required a re-think of the ACMA's previous policies around retransmission of satellite television.

Unlike the earlier Aurora satellite service, the VAST service will offer all Australians who do not receive adequate terrestrial television coverage the same number and quality of digital television services as in the major cities, including all digital multichannels and HDTV.

Viewers in areas previously serviced by analog television retransmissions, where retransmissions will not be provided in digital, are eligible for a contribution towards the cost of obtaining equipment necessary to receive direct-to-home (DTH) satellite television from VAST under the Federal government's Satellite Subsidy Scheme, or SSS.

In these circumstances, the ACMA is keen to ensure that any self-help digital television retransmissions of the VAST service are of the same high quality as the services viewers could receive directly from the satellite.

The ACMA is proposing to introduce new guidelines authorising digital television retransmission services by self-help providers that will ensure that viewers of retransmitted digital television services have substantially the same viewing experience as those watching a broadcaster provided service.

Self-help providers will be expected to provide all available terrestrial television services using MPEG-2 video coding along with service information such as electronic program guides, channel numbers and captioning.

Note that the proposed guidelines relate only to self-help retransmission of television services - no change is proposed to self-help retransmission arrangements for radio services.

The ACMA is inviting comment on the proposed guidelines. To assist, the ACMA has today released a consultation paper, Proposed guidelines for digital television retransmission services by self-help providers. The paper provides further information on the background to the proposed guidelines, and their scope and content.

The ACMA encourages submissions from all interested parties by Friday 2 December 2011.

For further information about the switch to digital television please visit the Digital Switchover Taskforce's website at or call the Digital Ready Information Line on 1800 20 10 13.

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact: Emma Rossi Media Manager, on (02) 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or

Last updated: 03 June 2016