Viewers told to get a dish

TELEVISION viewers in parts of the Ipswich region may be left struggling for a signal after the switchover to digital broadcasting.

TV retransmission towers in the Somerset Regional Council area will be shut down after the digital signal is turned off, meaning residents will have to purchase a satellite to watch TV.

The council runs retransmission towers at Toogoolawah and the Somerset Dam to provide TV reception across the area.

The two towers will be shut down after the digital switchover in 2013, leaving the areas in reception black holes.

Residents of the Scenic Rim communities of Maroon and Mt Alford are also facing losing their terrestrial reception.

A spokeswoman for the Scenic Rim Regional Council said while a number of towers were being converted to digital technology Maroon and Mt Alford were not.

"Council operates five self-help transmission sites; Canungra, Rathdowney, Kooralbyn, Maroon and Mt Alford, three of these are proposed to be converted to digital by commercial broadcasters. These are Canungra, Kooralbyn, Rathdowney," she said.

"Commercial broadcasters have inspected the sites and council is waiting for a report and resulting negotiations of what the possible outcome would be for changeover from self-help transmission to digital.

"For the remaining two self-help transmission sites, council will have to consider whether to convert at a cost or alternatively, close the sites down and allow individuals to access a subsidy from the Federal Government to install a Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) service.

"Council is waiting on further advice from the Federal Government as to when that decision has to be made by."

For viewers to watch television they will have to replace their antenna with a satellite dish.

Somerset Regional Council mayor Graeme Lehmann said the existing towers were based on old technology.

"The retransmission tower technology isn't up to date," he said. A new digital tower may be built to service the Toogoolawah area.

According to a spokeswoman for the Federal Department of Communications, the VAST satellite system will cost a flat $220 to be installed across the state.

The price has been subsidised by the Federal Government.

Ipswich, the Somerset and Scenic Rim will have analogue signals switched off in June 2013, while Lockyer Valley residents will switch to digital-only television in December this year.

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