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NZ Risks Becoming Digital Backwater - Curran

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
NZ Risks Becoming Digital Backwater - Curran

New Zealand risks becoming a digital backwater if the switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting is delayed, Labour's Communications and IT spokesperson Clare Curran said today.

"Broadcasting Minister Jonathon Coleman's comments to TV3's 'The Nation' that the switch would be delayed because of fears voters would not like the move proves the Government has no co-ordinated policy to take advantage of the technical and content convergence between digital telecommunications and broadcasting, " Clare Curran said.

"Of course the switchover requires careful public management, but this is not a good enough reason to delay it. This is a worrying time especially given John Key's suggestion that the timetable for the digital switchover will slip until at least 2015.

"A 2015 date puts New Zealand on track to be the second-last country to switch over. We might manage to do it ahead of Mexico.

"While New Zealand gets delays, Australia charges ahead. It started its change last week. The European Commission has also called on member states to speed up their switchover to free up spectrum for wireless broadband services.

"Delays will affect the ability of telecommunications companies to provide the next generation of 4G services, and to take full advantage of the publicly-funded $1.5billion fibre initiative.

"In May 2009, Jonathan Coleman said a tentative date for the switchover would be announced when digital take-up had reached 60%, with a final date confirmed when 75% of homes were able to receive it, or in 2012, whichever came first.

"The Government is now backing away from that commitment. "Moving from analogue to digital television will need a public information campaign and support to those who may not easily make the switch, but our digital changeover could take only a few months, not the years required in other countries.

"The Government is weeks away from receiving results from its own survey of current digital take-up and a future forecast. It should make that data available to those who have an investment in the industry and not just use it to gauge the voter impact of making the much needed switch.

"New Zealand can not afford to be left at the back of the pack in digital development. But it seems the Government is quite happy to cruise while other nations get away on us." Clare Curran said.

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