Oz webs to get free digital spectrum

Seven, Nine, Ten TV may be excluded

SYDNEY — Australia’s commercial TV webs will be given digital frequencies for free, allowing them to launch digital broadcasting in 2001, according to press reports.

But the Seven, Nine and Ten webs may not be able to multiplex their channels, or introduce pay TV and data services, the Australian Financial Review said Wednesday.

The digital spectrum giveaway has been fiercely opposed by media groups including News Ltd. and John Fairfax, as well as feevee operators, who fear this would bar the entry of new players and allow the terrestrial webs to introduce new channels, including pay TV.

The Fairfax-owned paper said the webs would have 10 to 15 years to convert their analog services to digital.

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