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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Bmag - May 21st 2013 - What to do with your analogue TV

You probably know that analogue TV services will switch off on 28 May. Unless you have a set-top box, pay TV, video recorder with digital tuner or a digital television, you won’t be able to watch television after that date. But what you might not realise is that you don’t have to throw out your analogue TV next time there’s a kerbside collection. Here are three ways to avoid your beloved old TV contributing to landfill.

First of all, just keep it. On its own, an analogue television won’t pick up TV signals after 28 May but you can still use it as long as you have one of the devices I mentioned above, such as a set-top box (STB). High-definition STBs – which will give you all free-to-air channels – now cost as little as $30. At our place, we’ve saved a perfectly fine 32-inch flat-screen analogue TV by adding a DVD player and putting it in the guestroom.

But if you’ve decided you definitely don’t want or need your old TV, you can still avoid throwing it out on the footpath. The Mission to Seafarers at the Port of Brisbane is collecting analogue TVs and shipping them to Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

Centre manager Adrian Willes explains: “We have a lot of Papua New Guineans and Fijians that come into the Port of Brisbane. A lot of people have been throwing their TVs out. We have been supplying those to the Fijian and Papua New Guineans free of charge. They simply put their name down. When we can get hold of something that they are after, we give it to them. They just take it on the ship. So one community has had one TV for the entire village – now, slowly but surely, the TVs are rolling out more in those villages.”

Willes assures me there are no technical issues using Australian TVs in PNG and Fiji. “It’s a simple pick-up and install it in the islands and it will work. If you want to give a TV away, visit the centre and we can let you know if we can collect it or if we can take it then and there.” If it’s easier, you can call them (10am to 10pm, seven days) on 3895 1181.

Another bloke who’s keen to get his hands on your old TV is artist Forbes McKail. If you’ve been to the Collectorama exhibition at the Queensland Museum, you’ll know Forbes’ wall of old televisions, each filled with a back-lit photograph of one of Forbes’ friends. He is already sitting on another 50-odd TVs for future art projects and his father is looking after another 100 for him – what a dad! – but Forbes realises he must seize the moment. “There’s beauty in these things and when they’re thrown away then they’re gone. Such a waste.”

Specifically, Forbes is looking for older TVs with retro or kitsch appeal. “The small ones, the old ones from the ’50s when they were black and white. Once we got into the ’80s they had that standard black plastic look and that’s not really that attractive. Think Jetsons. Plasticy, domey, Rice Bubbly ones.” The best way to offer your old TV to Forbes is to email him at

Hopefully no-one is caught out by the analogue switch-off. Perhaps make a note to telephone elderly or less tech-savvy members of the family on 28 May to make sure their TV still works.

In response to my last column about buying my wife Nikki a little black dress that she took straight back to the shop, Julie Thornton wrote: “You think of her still as the girl you first met, so the dress was entirely appropriate for that person.”

Exactly! Nikki hasn’t aged a day in all the 20 years we’ve been together. No, really. She hasn’t! And Sean Tiernan reassured me: “Shows you are a good husband, Spencer”. Aww, thank you Sean. And thank you to Sam Eeles for sending me a photograph of another very short, very sexy little number. Only this one isn’t black. It’s blue. A little blue dress that resembles the TARDIS (police box) from Doctor Who . Needless to say, it is sensational but I’m not going there again!

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