The government has set aside some $308 million in the 2011-12 federal budget to make sure pensioners don’t get cut off as the
is phased out across the country. But how do you know whether you have an analogue or digital set to begin with?
Knowing what you've got
There’s no way to tell if you have an analogue or digital TV by just looking at it or poking around the knobs and inputs on the back. If you purchased your TV more than three years ago it may be analogue; if you purchased it five to ten years ago it probably is analogue. If you bought it sometime between 2008 and now the switchover is unlikely to affect you.
Here’s the quickest way find out what you’ve got, followed by a few other options.
• Check whether you can receive the digital channels ABC2, ABC3 or SBS TWO. If you can watch them and you don’t have subscription TV, your TV can receive digital broadcasts. If not, you’ll need a set-top box of some kind or a new TV.
• Access the TV's menu (usually via the menu button on the remote). If there’s an option for digital tuning/scanning, you’re all set.
• Contact the manufacturer with the make and model number.
• Look through the instruction book or packaging.
Retrofitting your old set
The government’s 2011-12 federal budget commitment to provide $300 for the purchase and installation of a set-top box is limited to Australians receiving the maximum rate of pension.
If you're not a pensioner who qualifies and you have an analogue TV, you'll need a set-top box. It will go between your TV and antenna and convert the signal. The box you need will depend on what kind of TV you have, but it will certainly be cheaper than buying a new TV. If you have an old analogue set and want to record things, you could get a digital video recorder, DVD recorder, or Blu-ray recorder which would also act as a set-top box. Or you could get a TiVo unit which would act as both recorder and digital tuner.
When to make the switch
The switchover started last year, rolled through rural South Australia and Victoria, and is now under way in rural Queensland. It will make its way to rural NSW in the first half of 2012 and onto capital cities as well Remote Central and Eastern Australia and Regional and Remote Western Australia in 2013. You can stay up to date by going to the government’s switchover site, which also offers more detailed information on your options.