Townend exec director of Digital Australia

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SYDNEY -- Australia's government on Tuesday tapped Briton Andrew Townend as the executive director of Digital Australia, the body charged with managing the country's move to digital broadcasting.

Formerly the chief operating officer at Digital U.K., Townend's broadcasting background and "experience as a leader of the digital switchover process in the U.K. will be invaluable to Australia's achievement of digital switchover," Australian Communications Minister Helen Coonan said.

Coonan cited the U.K.'s success in achieving penetration of 46% of homes with digital terrestrial TV ahead of the first scheduled analog system switchoff in October.

About six years after digital terrestrial services were first broadcast here, Australia's household penetration of digital free-to-air TV stands at 30%, the Australian Communications and Media Authority said in May.

Digital Australia will implement the government's Digital Action Agenda, aimed at boosting digital TV penetration ahead of the country's analog broadcast switchoff -- slated to start in 2010 and be completed by 2012.

Townend, who takes up his post in August, has been COO of Digital U.K. for the past two years and has held senior positions at the BBC and with Ernst and Young.
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