Digital TV is making a slow mark on the Australian population with lack of
interest in content, cost and little awareness of services forming the key barriers
to uptake. The Australian Communications and Media Authority released the findings
of its research Digital Media in Australian homes, yesterday revealing that
13% of Australian households have taken up digital free-to-air TV services
since their launch in 2001, while subscription based digital services are also
only present in 13% of homes.

Aside from languishing take up numbers, the report revealed significant
knowledge shortfalls in public understanding of digital television, with 45% of
non-adopters not knowing if digital free-to-air services were available in their
area, and 17% of non-adopters not having heard of digital free-to-air television
at all.

A mere four per cent of all homes reported having HDTV with 92% of
adopters expressing satisfaction with the technology.
Acting ACMA chair Lyn Maddock said “this research identifies early
benchmarks in the inevitable transition from analog to digital free-to-air television
transmission. This timely study will inform ACMA, the Australian Government
and television broadcasters about how the Australian community is
starting to move from analog to digital free-to-air television.”
The main drivers for the adoption of digital free-to-air television were improvements
to picture quality, better reception, and extra channels with rate of
uptake was roughly similar for capital cities and regional areas.

The key reasons given by non-adopters for not
being interested in digital free-to-air television were lack of interest in more
television, cost of equipment, and not knowing about digital television. The report
clearly found that digital free-to-air television is a peripheral issue for
most non-adopter households.
Sixty-one per cent of non-adopters were either not interested or not sure if
they were interested in taking up the technology. Seventeen per cent of nonadopters
said they were interested but had no plans to purchase, six per cent
planned to purchase after two years, and 14% said they were planning to purchase
within two years.

The survey found that 78% of respondents had DVD
players, 67% had Internet access and 26% had broadband access.
The research consisted of a national survey conducted by Eureka Research
of 1,148 Australian households. The sample was boosted to achieve representative
samples of 308 digital free-to-air television adopters and 237 subscribers of digital subscription television.