Satellites up for grabs: ACA

Two new space slots for satellites are up for grabs in a potential boost for Australian broadcasting services.

The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) has sought applications for the two licences, which can be used to transmit services along fixed ground links or via space.

Optus already has a satellite in place for broadcasting and communications, used by pay television operators Foxtel and Austar.

ACA chairman Tony Shaw said the two licences could be auctioned off if there was enough demand, pointing out the allocation would expand the range of broadcasting services available to the Australian community.

The two slots were assigned to Australia under the International Telecommunication Union's Broadcasting Satellite Service Plan.

Also yesterday the Labor opposition called on the government to cancel its planned auction of datacasting licences for May 21.

Four of the seven bidders have dropped out of the race and opposition communications spokesman Stephen Smith said the government should take the hint that its datacasting rules were restrictive and re-think them.

The auction was originally scheduled for March but the ACA is still to decide on a reserve price for the spectrum, which will be used to deliver interactive information services on digital television.

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