January 18, 2016
Work is underway to fix television reception problems in East Gippsland, after residents reported regular interference and drop outs.
Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester took local residents’ complaints to the Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield, who asked the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to investigate.
Mr Chester said ACMA was aware of the recent technical issues with a broadcast site in Bairnsdale, which is believed to be the source of most television signal drop outs in areas including Lakes Entrance, Orbost, Cann River, Genoa and Mallacoota.
“The Minister has written to me, advising the Bairnsdale transmission site owner, Broadcast Australia, is aware of the issues and is working with affected broadcasters to address issues relating to the affected services,” he said.
Mr Chester said he asked local residents to contact him directly with details of their television problems, which he forwarded to the Minister and commercial television channels.
“I received many reports from local residents of television reception problems submitted to my office by local residents, who had become frustrated with the constant interference to commercial channels such as WIN and Prime,” Mr Chester said.
“I have also raised these problems in my meetings with senior management of the main television channels.
“The Group Business Director for WIN Television advised me that WIN has identified issues in our region and deployed its engineering team to Gippsland. The engineering team is conducting testing in our region this month and I will write to residents again once results are to hand.”
Mr Chester said the Minister advised him the Bairnsdale transmission tower issues should not affect ABC and SBS television services, as these are delivered to the Bairnsdale transmission site via satellite.
“ACMA has also recognised there may be other causes of digital television reception, including terrain, weather, an inadequate or excessive signal, or interference caused by electrical equipment. Poorly maintained, or incorrectly installed cabling, connections or antennas were other possible sources,” he said.
In a letter to Mr Chester, the Minister also identified 4G signal receiver overload, roof-mounted NBN wireless services being installed too close to television antennas and atmospheric ducting as other possible sources of interruption.
In all instances, ACMA has recommended residents seek an experienced antenna installer to check: the residents’ antenna and cabling are in good working order; antennas are correctly oriented toward the most appropriate broadcast site for the residence; receiver overload has been addressed (if applicable); any NBN antennas (if applicable) are installed sufficiently away from the television antenna.
Mr Chester thanked residents who contacted him to report problems with television interference.
“Unreliable television reception has frustrated many local residents and I have been working on their behalf to find a solution with the Minister for Communications,” Mr Chester said.
“Free-to-air television is the primary source of news and entertainment for many people in Gippsland and residents should receive a reliable service.
“I thank everyone for their patience while ACMA has investigated the source of reception problems.”
If reception problems cannot be resolved, the antenna installer is encouraged to fill out a TV interference – Request for Investigation Form (R202) and submit to ACMA. The form is available from the ACMA website.
CAPTION: Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester (left) presents Communications Minister Mitch Fifield copies of television reception interference reports, submitted by East Gippsland residents. The Minister asked communications watchdog ACMA to investigate the cause of the interruptions.