Malcolm Turnbull’s promise of better reception for Paterson

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the streets of Medowie. Picture: Marina NeilBOB Baldwin says half of all TV reception complaints to the Australian Communications and Media Authority come from his electorate of Paterson.

So it was a smiling Mr Baldwin who brought Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull to a Medowie footpath on Tuesday morning to announce an $820,000-plus solution to years of dodgy reception for the troubled parts of Port Stephens.

Unfortunately, viewers with problems at Stroud, Dungog and Vacy will have to wait for a second stage of funding to have their reception improved.

But for Port Stephens, Mr Turnbull was confident that construction would be well under way by Christmas, ending years of problems that were there during the analogue era, and became worse under the digital regime.

Not unexpectedly, Mr Baldwin blamed the previous Labor government for ‘‘mishandling’’ the TV reception problem when it was in power, while Mr Turnbull went to some lengths to explain Labor’s shortcomings over the national broadband network.

Mr Baldwin said the contracts signed on Monday meant the federal government would contribute $476,475, while the television networks would contribute $351,145.

Mr Baldwin said he was ‘‘very pleased’’ to have Mr Turnbull in his electorate, but when asked whether that made him a Turnbull supporter, the Paterson MP responded even-handedly.

‘‘I support my leader, and I support Malcolm in delivering the funding and technology that is needed in my electorate,’’ Mr Baldwin said.

NBN Television chief executive Deborah Wright, who attended the announcement, said the funding would pay for a mixture of a new and expanded broadcasting equipment to strengthenlocal TV reception.

Ms Wright said the reception problems were largely caused by interference from signals broadcast from the Central Coast and the Illawarra.

The interference tended to be greater in hot weather.

Welcoming the federal funding, Ms Wright said the government’s support was ‘‘exceptionally pleasing’’ at a time when the industry was under ‘‘a reasonable amount of duress’’.

Mr Turnbull said a lot of people were watching television and drama online but conventional television broadcast services were still important.