Pat Conroy announces a Labor federal government would spend $2.5m on digital television towers to boost reception in Shortland electorate

CLEAR VIEW: Poor television reception is still a problem in parts of Lake Macquarie and the Central Coast. Picture: Rob Homer
CLEAR VIEW: Poor television reception is still a problem in parts of Lake Macquarie and the Central Coast. Picture: Rob Homer

LABOR has pledged $2.5 million to build up to three digital TV towers to improve television reception in Lake Macquarie and the Central Coast if it wins the federal election on May 18.

Member for Shortland, Pat Conroy, made the announcement this morning at Charlestown, one of the areas affected by poor TV reception.

"Poor TV reception is among the top five issues people complain about to my office, especially since the switch from analogue to digital TV," Mr Conroy said.

"This is a significant issue, as free-to-air TV remains the most accessible form of news and current affairs, making it an important part of the democratic process.

"It is also vital in keeping our community safe in times of emergencies such as bushfires, especially in areas with poor mobile phone reception. It is a lifeline, particularly for older members of our community."

The Shortland Digital Television Reception Survey, which Mr Conroy held in May 2017, found that 54 per cent of households surveyed were satisfied with their TV reception after the switch from analogue to digital TV, compared to 83 per cent beforehand.

"Complaints continue to come in, from as far south as Lake Munmorah. People say they are forced to outlay money for technicians, antennas and satellite dishes, sometimes with no improvement at all in reception," Mr Conroy said.

Of the half of survey respondents who paid for a technician to inspect their TV antenna, 60 per cent said they saw little or no improvement, Mr Conroy said.

Labor's $2.5 million commitment would fund a field test by the Australian Communications and Media Authority to establish the optimal locations for three digital TV towers in the Shortland electorate, as well as installation of up to three towers.

Regional broadcasters were expected to make a contribution to the towers, he said, and Labor would work with them to deliver on this commitment.

The towers were expected to boost reception not just in the Shortland electorate, but into Newcastle, the Hunter Valley and the Central Coast, Mr Conroy said.

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