Many television viewers in Gulgong, Narromine, Trangie and surrounding areas have recently reported reception difficulties. These townships are located in the fringe coverage areas of the Central Western Slopes broadcasting site from Mount Cenn Cruaich.
Why has reception in these areas changed?
As part of the Australia-wide retune process, SBS and the commercial services (Prime, WIN and Southern Cross Ten) changed frequencies on 17 September 2014 from the UHF to the VHF band, where ABC services continue to operate. Following the retune of the Central Western Slopes broadcasting site, many viewers with an antenna that is unsuitable for fringe VHF reception or no VHF antenna at all have experienced reception difficulties. Viewers who had either no or poor ABC reception before the retune may now receive equally poor reception on all channels.
To obtain reliable reception in VHF fringe-coverage areas, you need to have an appropriate antenna receive system for this environment. This includes a single high-gain VHF antenna installed up to 10 metres above the ground with RG6 quad shield cabling to current digital television standards. If you have multiple TV outlets around the house, you may need a high-quality low-noise masthead amplifier. An experienced antenna installer with a digital meter will be able to advise if your installation is the appropriate standard or if you may need to upgrade.
Are there any other reasons for the poor reception?
The ACMA has identified that power line interference may be affecting fringe coverage townships including Gulgong and Narromine. While these towns generally receive television signal levels that are adequate for reliable reception, in certain areas power line interference has been identified at sufficiently high levels to be affecting reception—at times causing it to fail altogether.
The ACMA website has further information on how interference to TV reception can be caused from power line interference.
How long will it take to eliminate this interference?
It can take several months to locate and resolve localised issues, as the source of interference can be difficult to identify in the first instance.
The ACMA has been working with the electricity network service provider to find the best way to resolve these television reception problems and we appreciate your patience.
Do any antennas help prevent interference?
The ACMA’s measurements in both Gulgong and Narromine show that viewers with an antenna system suitable for a fringe VHF coverage area and cabling to the current digital standards will have increased immunity to interference and be less likely to experience poor reception. While improving your receiving system may not totally eliminate reception problems, it could help to minimise how often your reception is affected.
However, some masthead amplifiers can degrade reception by amplifying interference, so they should only be used if necessary and even then with the minimum gain needed. While a properly installed high-quality masthead amplifier can improve signal reliability in the longer term, it may be counterproductive when power line interference is present.
Are there any other options to improve my reception?
A further consideration is installing the government’s Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) service. VAST is an alternative reception option for individual households unable to get adequate digital television services from existing terrestrial transmission sites.
You need to apply for VAST through the mySwitch website (http://myswitch.digitalready.gov.au/). While your initial VAST application may be declined because you’re in an area expected to receive adequate coverage, we encourage you to go through the appeals process as this will likely mean you’re granted access to VAST. You should only install the necessary equipment after you receive your VAST reception certificate, which is authorisation to use the satellite service.
Where can I get more information?
For further information contact the ACMA Customer Service Centre on 1300 850 115 or email email@example.com.