Indigenous Media and OPTUS Digital Satellite Service (VAST)
Support was procvided by the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) through the Indigenous Broadcasting Program to support the migration of our National Broadcasting Service to the new Optus Digital Satellite Service commonly called VAST.
The Australian Government has decreed that all broadcast services must switch to digital to address long-standing broadcast and communcation issues in regional and remote areas of Australia. NIRS supports such a policy but asks that First Nations Communities who in many case have poor, or in some cases, no access to terrestrially broadcast TV or radio services, be considered. Additionally, our First Nations Broadcasting Sector is one of the largest and most diverse networks in Australia, and aas such NIRS seeks to maintain our presence as an essential service and continue to provide of our broadcast programs, services and support for First Nations Community Broadcaster across Australia and we seek DBCDE’s support to achieve this.
Through the direct-to-home digital TV service, all Australian homes with satellite receivers installed, will be able to receive NIRS. NIRS will reciprocate by providing a program distribution service to relay radio programs produced by all metropolitan, regional, rural and remote First Nations broadcasters through our satellite service. If we are successful in our bid, all Australians will a choice of NIRS radio programs that will feature current affairs, news, talkback, arts, culture, language and heritage. This opportunity will encourage higher production values and program quality which NIRS will distribute via four channels on VAST and in a convergence sense through Smartphone’s and mobile devices that access the World Wide Web.
NIRS represents “The Voice of Our People” and our Strategic Plan sets out vision, aims and objects of instilling a sense of pride and identity in First Nations People. By facilitating high-quality, informative, enlightening and entertaining radio programs for all audiences, NIRS believes all Australians will appreciate, understand and respect the rich diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts, language, cultures and heritage.
This transition requires an upgrade of our network’s broadcast equipment, both within NIRS studio and each contributing and receiving First Nations Broadcaster. NIRS must transport a MPEG-1 Layer II or HE-AAC v2 encoded DVB compliant signal from our Program Control Room (PCR) in Brisbane as a single ASI stream (“Encoded Signal”) to the Customer Equipment Room (CER) at the Optus Satellite Uplink Facility in Belrose, NSW. This transport link is supplied by Telstra through their Connect IP Service that provides the necessary IP bandwidth to support the transmission of 4 channels of programming for uplinked at Optus in Sydney and subsequent circulation via Satellite throughout Australia.
Most importantly, the NIRS satellite service allows RIMOs and RIBS to receive NIRS along with ABC and SBS services. Attached A represents the list of RIBS communities that will receive NIRS once each RIMO hub site receives a new VAST STB. This upgrade requires new dual-band LNBs for some broadcasters to be able to broadcast via VAST to their RIBS. IRCA will be coordinating their part of proceeding for RIMOs and RIBS, however NIRS will coordinate the upgrades for licensed Community Broadcasters in all Metropolitan, Regional and Rural locations.
The NIRS studio requires VAST decoders to receive programs contributed by each station including each RIMO or RIBS station. NIRS has been advised by Optus that the UEC DSD-4121 receivers, even though a domestic solution is VAST certified. In any event, NIRS has engaged our technicians to ensure each STB is configured so that its default configuration will maintain its settings in the event of power failure.
NIRS is also working with IRCA with respect to this project. NIRS agrees and supports IRCAs timeframe for this project as follows:
- Data collection by IRCA, consultation, confirmation of technical specification – Feb 21
- Budget confirmation – Feb 28
- Order and purchase – Mar 31
- Configuration of STBs, freight and delivery - April through July
At this stage, the NIRS component for this project is limited to the roll-out of VAST STB and the upgrade of dual band LNBs for Licensed First Nations Broadcasters. Please find our list of stations in Attachment B and our proposed budget.