Television, Digital and Satellite TV in Australia

Find out what TV entertainment is available in Australia...

There are three main television/video standards in use throughout the world.

  • NTSC: used in the USA, Canada, Japan and some other countries
  • PAL: used in most of Western Europe, Australasia and South Africa
  • SECAM: used in France, parts of the Middle East and Eastern Europe

The television transmission standard in Australia is PAL. In order for foreign television sets to work in the country, they should be compatible with this standard.

Terrestrial and Digital TV

The five terrestrial channels in Australia: Channel 9, Channel 7, Channel 10, SBS and ABC are free. ABC and SBS are government funded and do not show advertisements. All five channels offer a range of programmes including films, documentaries, news, sport, entertainment and imported shows.

TV licences are not required in Australia.

Digital "free to view" television was first launched in Australia in January 2001. All five free-to-air broadcasters now transmit digitally in all Australian state capitals. The plan is to expand coverage and content across the whole of Australia with over 20 major regional areas receiving some digital services.

To access digital services it is necessary to either purchase a DTT (Digital Terrestrial Television) set top box or invest in an integrated television set. Most televisions on the market today are integrated digital televisions and high definition tuners are now becoming more common. In addition to receiving better pictures and sound, digital TV will also provide access to extra channels.

When the transition to digital is complete in Australia, the analogue PAL system will be replaced by the DVB-T digital television standard which is the standard used in most parts of Europe. This system is different from that used in the UK which uses an American-developed ATSC standard.

Pay Digital, Satellite and Cable TV

There are four main pay digital and cable/satellite providers in Australia:

Not all providers are available in every region, and cable TV is not easily accessible in remote areas.

The main packages supplied by all providers include films, news, documentaries, sports, films and childrens' programmes.

There are also options to pre-record programmes and for multiple TV set up in the home. For all the options, check the provider's website or discuss with the sales representative through the selected provider.

Usually the process for set up is straightforward. Once a provider is chosen they will make an appointment to come to the home and install with a cable link or through satellite. The service usually operates through a monthly direct debit arrangement and fees vary according to what package or services are required.

Those living in rented accommodation should get permission from their landlord before installing a satellite dish. It may also be necessary to get permission from the local council too.