CRA release: Commercial radio stations in Brisbane 4BC, 4BH, 4KQ, Triple M, b105, 97.3 FM, Nova, Radio TAB, Radar, Pink Radio and NovaNation join commercial stations in Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne on Monday, 25 May 2009 when they begin broadcasting DAB+ digital radio for the first time.

Joan Warner, chief executive officer of Commercial Radio Australia the industry body that has driven the move to digital radio on behalf of both the commercial and public broadcasters said Brisbane radio listeners have been keen to sample digital radio.

“Brisbane’s digital radio switch on has been eagerly awaited, with listeners approaching digital radio retailers many weeks before DAB+ digital services were set to begin,” said Ms Warner.

“Listener response to our “digital radio is coming” awareness campaign has been outstanding. New retailers are contacting manufacturers to stock digital radios. The initial market response in Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne has been terrific with retailers already re-ordering digital radio stock.”

Commercial Radio Australia announced last month sales of DAB+ digital radio receivers will be tracked and monitored but said it was unlikely any figures will be released in the short term but rather when the industry begins to see trending in the uptake.

Ms Warner said as each state switches on we are seeing a marked increase in activity on our www.digitalradioplus website with consumers carrying out a postcode check to see if they live in a digital radio area and where they can buy a new digital radio.

All new DAB+ digital radio services will be broadcast in interference test mode for the first couple of weeks, which means that power will be lower at night while any interference is assessed. Interference testing in Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide has been carefully monitored without any major issues.

Due to the torrential rains and damaging winds in Brisbane this week, digital radio services may need to be switched off for a six hour period during the first week as part of the interference management scheme.

“We’ll be illustrating the use of the new technology by using the scrolling text feature of digital radio to let Brisbane listeners who have already purchased a digital radio know when it will take place. This will ensure they understand it’s not an issue with their radio just part of our interference testing,” said Ms Warner.

“The switch on of digital radio is a culmination of seven years work with the Federal Government, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), commercial broadcasters, the ABC and SBS, together with retailers and manufacturers of digital radios to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated switch on of a compelling new way of listening to radio,” said Ms Warner.

Digital radio means you can still listen to your favourite stations, plus new programming such as Austereo’s Radar and Pink Radio and DMG’s NovaNation and Koffee – all in digital quality sound and with interference free reception, plus the ability to tune to the station by name, rather than frequency, and on some radios, the ability to pause and rewind a few minutes if you missed a song you like, plus scrolling news, sport and weather text and the capacity to transmit on screen on some receivers, a picture of a radio host, cover of a CD or a product picture.

“The Australian radio industry has invested in and created its digital future and will compete with other digital technologies and continue to maintain radio’s relevance in listener’s lives,” said Ms Warner

DAB+ is the digital technology of the future with Poland announcing a trial this week. DAB+ digital radio is either on air, trialling or being considered in Belgium, Germany, Italy, China, India, Malaysia, Iran, Indonesia, Czech Republic, Malta, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland. Germany’s recent announcement of a national DAB+ multiplex to expand existing digital radio coverage and services in the country has given a major boost in confidence in the DAB+ standard to the European automotive sector.

AM and FM services will continue to be broadcast for sometime to allow for the change over of the estimated 50 million analogue radios currently owned by Australians. Digital radio is free to air – all you need is a new digital receiver – no subscription fees or signing up, just tune in. Listeners can go to the website type in their postcode to see if they live in an area where they can receive digital radio or where they will be able to buy a digital radio.