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Digital health channel for remote communities goes to air with Optus Satellite

The Rural Health Education Foundation has partnered with Optus to expand the reach of its Rural Health digital TV channel, delivering more content to more locations across Australia via satellite following a new five year contract.

Broadcast via the Optus Aurora Digital satellite platform, the Foundation's Rural Health Channel delivers vital health news, education and training for families and healthcare professionals in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia.

Under the new agreement, the channel is now received by over 600 Rural Health sites, as well as free-to-air viewers throughout every region of Australia. Broadcast coverage has also been extended with up to 24 hours of standard definition health programming each week. Previously, Foundation programs were only available to health professionals in a limited number of clinics for two hours per fortnight.

The Foundation's expanded partnership with Optus represents a major milestone in helping to bridge the current gap in health literacy and boost health awareness amongst rural and remote communities.

Helen Craig, CEO of the Rural Health Education Foundation, said: "People living and working in isolated regions face immense barriers in keeping up-to-date on health matters, and the impact of this can clearly be seen in higher rates of illness and mortality. With the expanded services that we are able to now deliver via Optus Satellite, the Rural Health Channel can reach and inform more families and healthcare professionals, no matter where they live."

The Rural Health Channel is now accessible by the 75,000 households around Australia that are eligible for Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST). Broadcasters utilise the Optus Aurora Digital satellite platform to deliver free-to-air digital TV satellite services in remote areas as part of the Federal Government's Digital Switchover program. Rural Health is the first free-to-air narrowcaster in Australia to provide content to VAST viewers and will initially broadcast up to 24 hours per week: from 1.30 to 3.30pm and 7.30 to 9.30pm on weekdays, and 4.30 to 6pm on Sundays.

Paul Sheridan, vice president, Optus Satellite said: "Optus has been supporting the Rural Health Education Foundation since 1995 to help it deliver high-quality health education programming via state-of-the-art satellite services. By utilising our new digital satellite platform, we can help the Foundation close the health literacy gap even further by extending the reach of its health channel into more homes - in even the most remote parts of the country."

The Optus Aurora Digital satellite platform utilises the latest MPEG-4 and DVB-S2 technologies, providing a more efficient use of bandwidth and a better viewer experience for end-users. It is also used by leading broadcasters such as Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), Southern Cross, WIN, GWN7 and Imparja.

As Australia's leading provider of premium satellite services, Optus has five satellites currently in orbit, with a new satellite, Optus 10, scheduled for launch in 2013.

Media contact:
Derek Lau
Optus Corporate Affairs
(02) 8082 7850