Residents blast TV farce

WARRNAMBOOL residents have blasted the Department of Communications for failing to advise of planned work that turned television screens blank yesterday. 

Daytime TV signals across the city went offline at 9.30am yesterday as sub-contractors started upgrade works at the Albert Park transmitter. 

Despite being told services would be restored by 3.30pm, many residents were still complaining of having no TV reception at 6pm.

Outages of all channels are expected again today between 9.30am and 3.30pm and further works on Friday will only affect WIN and Southern Cross 10. 

The Standard was unaware of the planned outage until receiving a number of phone calls from angry viewers yesterday morning. 

Viewers also took to social media saying some advance notice of the outage “would have been nice”, while others said they hoped the upgrades would improve the quality of reception. 

After calling the ABC’s reception interruption hotline, The Standard was told federal government agency Digital Ready was carrying out work on the Warrnambool city transmitter in Albert Park. 

A department spokeswoman apologised for any frustration and inconvenience caused, but stopped short of explaining why there was no advanced notice of the outage. 

She said the upgrade works were being done ahead of a planned “retune” on May 7. 

“Generally, outages will be scheduled to occur on the days immediately leading up to the retune, on the retune day, or on the days immediately following the retune as works on towers are completed,” the spokeswoman said. 

“However, there are some cases where due to the complexity of the work, outages may need to occur well in advance of the scheduled public retune dates.”

The spokeswoman said “retune” was a national program to move some free-to-air TV channels to different frequencies to create space for “next generation” communications services, such as mobile broadband. 

“After the channel changes occur, viewers will need to retune their television equipment to find the channels that have moved.”

“By the end of 2014, over 400 TV towers across Australia will have had equipment re-tuned, modified or replaced to enable channel changes to occur. 

The spokeswoman said advertising explaining the process residents will have to follow on May 7 to retune their sets will start next week. 

Yesterday’s outage only affected TVs tuned to the Warrnambool City transmitter in Albert Park. 

The transmitter at Tower Hill will be retuned on August 18 and it’s expected there will be similar outages related to its upgrade. 

The spokeswoman said viewers could expect more outages to affect WIN on May 6, as well as all channels on May 7 and 8.

jwoolley@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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