Federal government announces $10m in funding for Viewer Access Satellite Television Service

Minister for regional services Bridget McKenzie has announced $10m in additional funding for the Viewer Access Satellite Television Service (VAST) until 2021.

The service, which was first announced as part of the digital television switchover plans in 2010, provides a free-to-air commercial and national television service to approximately 500,000 viewers in regional Australia. The latest funding adds to more than $127m already committed to the service.

A VAST set-top box

It comes alongside the 2018 review of VAST, which recommends the service continue through its current satellite delivery model. The review sought to provide advice on whether the current arrangements were the most efficient and effective way to provide free-to0air television to viewers in regional areas.

McKenzie said regional Australians rely on the service.

“Television is a vital entertainment and information service that all Australians should have access to. VAST ensures that regional Australians can receive reliable free-to-air television broadcasts so that we can all share and participate in cultural, education and social experiences.

“The service is also critical, is also essential, in keeping people up-to-date with the latest emergency information in times of natural disasters,” she added.

Free TV boss, Bridget Fair, has welcomed the extension.

“We congratulate Minister McKenzie and the Morrison Government on this decision which will be welcomed by the almost 500,000 Australians who rely on the VAST platform for their free television services,” Fair said.

“We note that it is a key recommendation of the review that the service should continue to be delivered through the current satellite delivery model. Free TV looks forward to continuing discussions about future delivery of the VAST television services post 2021.”


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