Great viewing if it doesn?t rain

By MICHELLE DAY

"THERE'S nothing on telly" is the usual grumble when programming doesn't suit viewers' tastes, but in some households with digital television this has literally been the case during heavy rain earlier this week.

"It's what is called rain fade," digital television viewer Tyler Brent said yesterday.

"And it is very annoying because it didn't used to happen with analogue."

It is also frustrating for some viewers, considering they will have to spend their precious dollars on digital televisions or set-top boxes to be part of Australia's transition to digital switch over, set to commence in 2010, and so far there is little that can be done about rain fade.

A local television station engineer yesterday said broadcasters that deliver television via satellite are susceptible to rain fade, which is the loss of signal or break-up of picture and sound during periods of intense rainfall.

"There's not much you can do about that," he said.

Digital signal loss could also be due to moisture getting into old or perished coaxial cables.

"Existing cabling condition is unknown and might not be suitable for digital television."

Digital Broadcasting Australia said the estimated home take-up of free-to-view digital television reached a mark of 1.8 million, or 23 per cent of Australia's 7.6 million homes, on February 12.

Owner of Northside Electronic Sales and Rental Geoff Maunder deals with digital television products every day and said with digital television you have either got perfect signal or something unwatchable.

"It will freeze up every now and then, particularly if there is heavy rain," he said.

Mr Maunder believes changes to media laws in July this year allowing more digital content so that one channel can broadcast three different programs at once will encourage more people to switch to digital.

But that still doesn't change the problem of what to do when your digital television freezes, your analogue reception is poor and it's raining outside.



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