Press release Commercial Radio Australia

The countdown has begun for the introduction of digital radio in Australia with listeners, broadcasters, advertisers and retailers set to benefit from this world-best radio service in less than 12 months.

Digital radio represents a breakthrough ‘multi-media experience’ – delivering text, images, extra advertising information, crystal-clear sound and bonus-channels.  Free to air digital radio services will be on air from 1 January 2009 in specified capital cities.

“This is one of the most significant milestones in Australian broadcasting history,” said Joan Warner, chief executive officer (CEO) of the national industry body, Commercial Radio Australia.

“It is a re-positioning for the 21st century of Australia’s most used form of electronic media and places Australia at the forefront of world broadcasting trends.”
*To broadcasters, digital radio is the most significant development since FM radio.  Leading retailers are describing it as the most exciting development in audio since the arrival of the CD a quarter-of-a-century ago. Australian listeners in metro areas will get to experience even more of the world’s best radio from 1 January 2009.

*Australia has adopted the upgraded broadcasting technology (DAB+) which will maximise the use of the spectrum and influence the number and type of services that can be delivered to the listener.   (Many countries which began digital broadcasts with DAB are now looking to upgrade to DAB+ which offers two to three times capacity.)

*Legislation passed in 2007 means free-to-air digital broadcasts are required to begin 1 January 2009.  Under the legislation, it is anticipated that stage 1 will see an initial roll out of services in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart.

*Digital radio broadcasts will be free-to-air, meaning that listeners will tune in much the same as they do now.  However rather than tuning to a set frequency, listeners will tune to a pre-set station and the digital radio will deliver the best available signal.  Individual stations will decide how they will use the power of the new technology, but digital radio has the potential to offer everything from ‘rewind radio’ to real time traffic images and downloadable songs.

*Listeners will need a digital radio receiver to take advantage of the new service.  Leading manufacturers, suppliers and retailers are planning to have a full range of products on offer in the lead-up to Xmas ’08.

*The commercial radio industry, the ABC and SBS have joined forces to establish the necessary infrastructure to deliver digital radio to Australian listeners.  Tens of millions of dollars are being invested by broadcasters in the initial rollout with hundreds of millions more for a complete national rollout over the following few years.