TV outages widespread as changes completed

Bob Dickson only wanted to watch the cricket, but there was no signal when he turned on his TV early yesterday.

He had read that outages were expected in parts of the Illawarra as a result of an upgrade to the Brokers Nose TV tower, the final step in the move to digital-only TV in the area.

But the work was only supposed to impact houses in the Illawarra's northern suburbs, not Mr Dickson's Barrack Heights home.

He phoned the Digital Ready Information Line, provided by the federal government for questions about the retune.

"I finally got a fella there and he says, oh, well, which way's your antenna pointing?" Mr Dickson said.

"I said 'how the hell would I know? ... the antenna fella puts it up."

More television outages are expected in the region today and tomorrow, between 9.30am and 3.30pm, as technicians fine-tune equipment at the tower.

The work comes as the ABC, SBS and Prime change frequency, freeing up broadcasting spectrum so it can be used for new services such as mobile broadband.

Once changed, viewers will need to retune their digital TV, set-top box or digital TV recorder to find the channels.

Interruptions linked to yesterday's work were expected to affect suburbs between Mount Pleasant and Coledale, however a spokeswoman for the federal Department of Communications told the Mercury some houses in suburbs further south could be reliant on the Brokers Nose transmitter.

Residents who receive their signals from the main Illawarra tower at Knights Hill will need to retune in October next year.

The spokeswoman said a more seamless transition wasn't possible.

"This is ... a complex and time-consuming engineering process which requires new equipment to be installed, or existing equipment to be modified or adjusted at the transmission site makes this task not able to be managed instantaneously.

"Engineers have completed a significant amount of work at the site in the weeks leading up to the retune day in an attempt to reduce today's interruptions," she said yesterday.

"Typically, there are interruptions to one or more TV channels in the lead-up to the retune date, the day of retune, and the day or two following.

"The TV channels that are affected will not be available for a short amount of time which means viewers' TV screens will go blank or show a message such as 'channel not available'. The disruptions are unlikely to last longer than a few hours at a time."

Visit myswitch.digitalready.gov.au for information about interruptions and how to retune.

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