CRA Press release: Chief executive officer of Commercial Radio Australia, Joan Warner is meeting with Chinese broadcast regulator, SARFT, and major Chinese broadcasters in Beijing this week to discuss Australia’s plans for the switch-on of digital radio next year.

Australia is leading countries like Germany, Italy, Switzerland and many in the Asia Pacific region in the adoption of the DAB+ digital format, and has gained international recognition for being at the forefront of digital radio innovation and policy development.

Ms Warner said the Chinese regulator, which has currently only approved the more basic, older DAB digital format, was interested in learning more about Australia’s rationale for the adoption of DAB+

“Australia is leading the world in the development of multi-media applications and also broadcasting the DAB+ standard on air in preparation for switch-on . The Australian trial is also assisting leading receiver manufacturers in the UK and Asia in DAB+ product development,” Ms Warner said.

Whilst in Beijing, Ms Warner is also meeting with two major Chinese broadcasters, Beijing Jolon and Shanghai OPG.

DAB+ allows broadcasters to provide additional audio channels, higher quality sound, with scrolling news, sport and weather text, extra channels, a pause and rewind facility, plus animated logos and slide shows, creating an innovative, multi-media experience.

Digital radio will be free-to-air in Australia. Listeners will need a new digital radio receiver to take advantage of the service. Commercial Radio Australia has been working with leading radio receiver manufacturers, suppliers and retailers to encourage a full range of DAB+ products to be offered in the lead-up to Xmas ’08.

Ms Warner will also be meeting with Chinese receiver manufacturers in Shanghai. “Digital radios will come in all shapes and sizes to suit the individual listener. Some very thin and light with a screen to display images, others will take the form of a very simple clock radio, hi fi or MP3 device. I am keen to see what the Chinese manufacturers have available.”

AM and FM analogue radio services will continue to be broadcast in Australia following the launch of digital radio, however with an estimated 50 million analogue radios in Australian homes there is a huge market for digital receivers.

Free-to-air digital radio services will begin in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth on 1 January 2009.