Digital radio services are expanding across Australia with current trial services in Canberra and Darwin to be made permanent. The Australian Communications and Media Authority has also completed regulatory arrangements for digital radio to be made available in Hobart.
The ACMA has now finalised digital radio channel plans for the future development of DAB+ digital radio in all of Australia’s capital cities. This follows the release of a package of planning papers last December.
Details of the timing of the start of permanent digital radio services will be determined once the broadcasters have finalised the arrangements to deploy their new digital radio infrastructure.
‘Finalising digital radio channel plans is an important step in completing the capital city roll-out of digital radio,’ said acting ACMA Chairman, Richard Bean.
‘The plans make frequencies available to broadcasters wishing to provide ongoing digital radio services in Canberra, Darwin and Hobart. The ACMA will now commence discussions with the broadcasters about starting the transmitter licence allocation process.’
The Government has also asked the ACMA to facilitate the rollout of digital radio in regional areas where licensees make the commercial decision that they wish to offer the service. As a result the ACMA is working with industry to identify which regional markets wish to commence services and prioritise planning accordingly.
‘The completion of the capital city roll-out is just the beginning. The commercial radio industry has indicated there are many regional radio broadcasters keen to offer digital radio services, so for Australians living in regional areas, stay tuned,’ Richard Bean added.
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Media release 23/2017 - 31 May
Digital radio services, using DAB+ technology in VHF Band III spectrum, have been running on a permanent basis in the metropolitan areas of Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney since July 2009. DAB+ digital radio uses ‘multiplex’ transmitters. Unlike analog broadcasting, where each broadcaster has its own transmitter, in DAB+ digital, individual broadcasters aggregate or multiplex their content onto one or more multiplex transmitters, using digital compression technology.
Digital radio services are licensed, planned and operated under the provisions of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and the Radiocommunications Act 1992. The legislation sets the statutory basis for spectrum planning for digital radio, the allocation of digital radio multiplex transmitter licences and the access regime for multiplex transmitter capacity.
The Digital Radio Planning Committee
Following the release of the Digital Radio Report in July 2015 by the Department of Communications, the ACMA was asked by the Minister to establish a joint government-industry committee chaired by the ACMA that would, among other tasks, plan for the transition of the Canberra and Darwin trial digital radio services to permanent services as a matter of priority.
The Digital Radio Planning Committee for Regional Australia (the committee) was formed in September 2015 and is comprised of industry representatives from peak bodies Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) and the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia, as well as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Special Broadcasting Service, the Department, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the ACMA.
The committee was also tasked with planning the rollout of digital radio in regional areas beyond Canberra and Darwin where industry indicates it is economically feasible to do so.
Commercial radio broadcasters, through the CRA, have nominated ‘early-mover’ markets where it may be economically feasible to rollout digital radio services within the next five years. Hobart and the Canberra and Darwin trial services have been proposed as first-movers. The industry has also nominated the Gold Coast as a first mover market. The ACMA is still considering the submissions it has received on the draft digital radio channel plans for this area.