TV blackspots continue to plague Daintree



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A proposal by Council to discontinue television broadcasting from the Alexandra Bay and Daintree Village Television Black Spot towers, was deferred (to a later date) at an Ordinary Council Meeting held in Council Chambers, Mossman earlier this week.

The proposal was presented in light of the difficulty of sourcing spare parts, the frequency of breakdowns, the high cost of maintenance and the obsolescence of equipment.

“The option of upgrading and/or renewing equipment is not recommended due to the high capital cost. The estimated cost to restore ABC and SBS is $200,000 and for channel 7, 9 and 10 an additional $200,000. 

“The total capital cost is $400,000 with an addition $80,000 per year in operational costs. The loss of ABC and SBS since 2017 and the unreliability of the service has prompted many residents to switch to other service providers. It is estimated less than 27 households across all three locations, still rely upon these two towers,” according to Council minutes.

The recommendations, which were not resolved, were:

• Not renew transmission equipment at the Alexandra Bay and Daintree Village Television Black Spot Towers;
• Continue maintenance of the existing equipment at the Alexandra Bay and Daintree Village Black Spot towers until equipment becomes irreparable, at which time the service will be discontinued;
• Advise Cow Bay, Diwan and Daintree Village residents that transmissions from the black spot television tower sites can no longer be guaranteed.

Meanwhile, a survey was sent to 169 Diwan and Cow Bay households in August 2019, asking people whether they relied on the free-to-air broadcast signal, or whether they had either switched to another service or did not have a television.

A total of 38 responses were received and the key findings were:

• Nine survey respondents currently rely on the free-to-air channels broadcast from the Alexandra Bay tower;
• While designed to cover the whole of Cow Bay, about halfway down Buchanan Creek Road, coverage drops out;
• Some households in Diwan receive transmission from a different tower e.g. Mt Lewis, so do not rely on the Alexandra Bay transmission, and they get all channels;
• 29 of the 38 respondents do not access TV channels from Alexandra Bay;
• Several residents and one business advised they have invested up to $1,000 to upgrade their own equipment to receive transmissions from the Alexandra Bay tower.

“A survey has not been done in Daintree Village; however, we know there are about 72 homes in the area.

“Anecdotal evidence indicates that since the ABC and SBS ceased broadcasting, many have switched to VAST (viewer access satellite television) and/or accessed Foxtel and/or Netflix.

“If we assume a similar proportion to those in Cow Bay and Diwan who don’t rely on the tower, the number of impacted households is 18,” according to Council minutes.

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