Improved Digital Radio Channel Plans (DRCPs) have been released by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for comment.

Chief executive officer of Commercial Radio Australia, Joan Warner said the industry had been working with ACMA to modify the DRCPs first released in December 2007.

“We are confident as an industry the latest plans will provide Australia’s radio listeners with a very high level of coverage from day one of the new technology - well over 90% population coverage - which will be further improved over the first few years of operation and represents the highest level of metropolitan DAB+ digital radio coverage in the world,” said Ms Warner.

The industry will, however, also prepare a submission requesting even more improvements in some areas. Based on the DRCPs, Commercial Radio Australia will formally finalise the technical specifications for the digital antenna infrastructure which ultimately determines how and where radio listeners will be able to hear digital radio in the five capital launch cities; Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide from May 2009.

“Radio is a mobile media and listeners expect when we switch-on digital radio next year that it will work in the home, in the office, on the beach and throughout the city when they are listening in the car. With these new plans, and a little more tweaking, we can achieve that,” said Ms Warner.

Free to air digital radio will allow radio broadcasters to provide additional audio channels, a higher quality sound, a pause and rewind facility, plus a new informative visual aspect to radio, with the introduction of scrolling news, sport and weather text and the ability to transmit a picture of a radio host or band, the cover of a CD, a product picture, or an animated logo on screen.