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Govt to provide financial assistance for low-income families to migrate to digital TV

The government is expected to provide financial assistance for up to 170,000 households to help them make the transition to digital TV.

SINGAPORE: The government is expected to provide financial assistance for up to 170,000 households to make the transition to digital TV.

Communications & Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim said on Tuesday that low-income households will be assisted with nearly all of the cost of migrating to digital TV.

Two more estates in Singapore - Ang Mo Kio and Jurong East - can also now receive digital TV signal for free-to-air programmes.

The service made its debut in Bukit Batok last December.

The THK Seniors Activity Centre@Ang Mo Kio is one of the first in the estate to receive digital TV signals with a new set-top box installed.

The centre had trouble receiving analogue TV signal previously.

Lin Yau Yeng, manager at THK Seniors Activity Centre@Ang Mo Kio, explained: "The analogue signal wasn't as robust and we were not able to receive the TV signal clearly. Now, with the digital signal, that has helped. The residents are able to come down and enjoy the TV at our centre, rather than staying at home alone."

Those who subscribe to pay-TV are already enjoying digital TV at home, regardless of where they live.

However, for those living in Bukit Batok, Ang Mo Kio and Jurong East, they can now enjoy digital TV for free-to-air programmes even without a pay-TV subscription.

To do so, they need either an Integrated Digital TV (IDTV) - a TV with a built-in digital tuner - or a set-top box which retails at around S$129.

To help low-income families join the digital bandwagon, the government is planning to roll out an assistance scheme for them, said Dr Yaacob.

He said: "We're working out the details at the moment, but by and large, based on the criteria that we have developed together with MOF (Ministry of Finance), we think 160,000 to 170,000 households will benefit."

Details of the scheme are expected to be announced at the Committee of Supply debate next month.

During his visit to the Bukit Batok Transmission Centre, Dr Yaacob said he is happy with broadcaster MediaCorp's update on Singapore's switch to digital TV, which he said is on track.

He said: "I think MediaCorp has put in a lot of effort, not only to put the system in place, but also to educate the public and together with MDA (Media Development Authority), they have rolled out a lot of plans together with the retailers to inform the public of when the digital service will be on.

"Apart from that, one important area for us from the ministry's point of view is that TV still remains an important platform for Singaporeans to receive news and entertainment."

Digital TV transmission is expected to be fully rolled out to all Singapore households by 2020.

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