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Fears 'entire state' of Tasmania could lose access to Network 10 programming on free-to-air TV

Pulse Tasmania
10 News First. Image / Network 10

Tasmania could lose access to Network 10 programming on free-to-air television, as uncertainty lingers around the future of regional television in Australia.

The alarm bells have been rung after Mildura in Northern Victoria became the first region to officially ‘switch-off’ Network 10 transmissions at 12am on Monday, following the collapse of joint-venture operator Mildura Digital Television (MDT).


The company was run by Seven and the WIN Network, who said MDT had been running “at a loss” since it was established in 2006 and it no longer made “commercial sense” to continue broadcasting.

“While no one likes to see services decline in regional Australia, it does not make commercial sense to subsidise a signal which is not making any money,” MDT said.

As a result, viewers in the region can no longer watch popular Network 10 programs like ‘Masterchef’, ‘I’m a Celebrity’ and ‘The Project,’ as well as soccer and NBL sporting games on free-to-air TV.

The Project is one of Network 10’s flagship programs. Image / 10

Is Tasmania next in line?

The move has raised concerns that a similar ‘TV blackout’ could take effect in Tasmania, where Network 10 operates as Tasmanian Digital Television (TDT), a joint venture between Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) and the WIN Network.

Network 10’s The Project reported that “all of Tassie” is “next in the firing line”, alongside the Northern Territory and regional Western Australia, due to falling advertising revenue and rising costs.


In a statement to Pulse, a TDT spokesperson acknowledged that regional broadcasters everywhere were having to make “tough decisions” to protect their businesses.

“Like MDT there are a number of joint ventures around Australia that will be running on a knife’s edge and TDT is no exception,” they said.

SCA, the owners of 7 Tasmania, are a 50% shareholder in Tasmanian Digital Television (10 Tasmania). Image / Pulse

“While SCA and WIN have no plan for its closure, all ongoing arrangements are very short term. There is constant assessment, not only for TDT, but the future of all regional broadcast services.”

SCA, who own 100% of 7 Tasmania and 50% of TDT, say “no discussions” have taken place around turning off the 10 signal, but stressed that the industry needs desperate help from the Federal Government.

“TDT is profitable. There are no plans for TDT to shut down in the next three years,” an SCA spokesperson said.

“SCA is focused on audio and has considered various options for sale of its television assets in recent years.”

The TDT10 and WIN Network office, located in the Hobart ABC building. Image / Pulse

Broadcasters call for Federal Government action

Network 10 condemned the MDT shutdown as “grossly unfair” for regional Victoria and all regional Australians, who deserve the same access to channels as those living in cities.

“We continue to call on the Federal Government to intervene and ensure that every Australian, no matter where they live or how much they earn, has the same access to all local free to air TV [for] … vital news and emergency information, epic sports, comedies and entertainment,” a 10 spokesperson said.

Industry body Free TV Australia has urged the Federal Government to adopt their “comprehensive four-step plan”, which includes abolishing the “outdated” spectrum tax, reviewing ‘regulatory imposts’ that don’t apply to digital competitors and implementing direct funding support for markets where services are not commercially viable.

A person watching TV. Image / Getty (Stock)

Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff also called on the Federal Government to take action to preserve regional TV services.

“We will always stand up for Tasmanians and the Federal Government needs to do whatever it can to ensure regional broadcasters can continue to deliver content to Tasmanian audiences,” he told Pulse.

Premier of Tasmania Jeremy Rockliff. Image / Pulse

Impact on local sports

The potential loss of Channel 10 in Tasmania would also impact the broadcast of free-to-air Sunday afternoon NBL games, which Network 10 has signed on to exclusively broadcast live.

This has raised concerns among the JackJumpers, who fear Tasmanians could struggle to watch the team play.

“The JackJumpers were thrilled with the NBL’s broadcast deal to make games available on free-to-air channels. The potential closure of TDT in Tasmania is a significant concern for us and Tasmanian basketball fans,” Chief Operating Officer Darren Smith said.

JackJumpers make history in March 2024 with their first NBL championship win. Image / Supplied

Alternative solutions

Federal Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said a satellite dish and receiver can be used to watch traditional TV channels in areas where a broadcaster “ceases to provide services”.

But the workaround, referred to as the Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) platform, comes at a cost of around $800 for viewers without existing hardware or equipment that can be repurposed.

Other television channels can be streamed online through various platforms like 10 Play and 7plus.

Television transmission towers on Mt Barrow near Launceston. Image / Pulse

TDT commenced transmissions in December 2003 and was the first digital-only commercial TV station in Australia, ending years of combined 7 and 10 network programming on Southern Cross Television, now 7 Tasmania.

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