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Singapore Budget 2014: Low-income households to get help to view digital TV channels

Low-income households will be able to benefit from a new assistance package to help them view free-to-air digital television programmes by September this year. -- ST FILE PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Low-income households will be able to benefit from a new assistance package to help them view free-to-air digital television programmes by September this year. -- ST FILE PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Low-income households will be able to benefit from a new assistance package to help them view free-to-air digital television programmes by September this year.

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim announced in Parliament on Monday that the package includes a free digital set-top box, an indoor antenna and installation of the equipment.

A key group that will get automatic assistance include those who live in one- or two-room rental flats, or are on ComCare assistance schemes, such as the Public Assistance Scheme.

The Media Development Authority is working with the Housing Board, Ministry of Social and Family Development, and the People's Association to identify low-income households to be included automatically under the digital-TV help scheme.

Families that have a household monthly income of $1,900 and below, or a per capita income of $600 and below, also stand to benefit from the digital-TV package.

Households with no income can possibly qualify for the scheme if the annual value of their home is $13,000 and below.

Families also need to have at least one Singaporean member to qualify. Those who have a pay-TV subscription or a TV that already supports digital-TV channels here, will not be eligible for the packages.

Some 160,000 to 170,000 low-income Singaporean households are expected to qualify for the package.

Free-to-air digital-TV transmissions by MediaCorp began in December last year. The move to digital allows broadcasters to send more signals efficiently. This means viewers will be able to get high-quality images and sound.

Viewers can also toggle subtitles with digital-TV transmissions, as well as multiple language options that programmes may include.

Digital transmissions can also free up broadcast frequencies for other uses including delivering Internet data to mobile devices.

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