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Digital radio licences

How to apply for digital radio multiplex transmitter licences and what conditions these have.

There are 3 categories of digital radio multiplex transmitter licences:

  • category 1 is for commercial and community radio services
  • category 2 is for commercial, community and national radio services
  • category 3 is for national radio services (ABC and SBS)

Digital radio transmitter access

Commercial

Commercial radio broadcasting licences in operation before the digital radio start-up day can provide digital radio services in a licence area.

Each commercial radio broadcasting licensee can access 1/9 of the gross capacity of the digital radio multiplex transmitter. This equates to 128 kbit/s and about 2 FM-quality services. Commercial broadcasters can bid for excess capacity on the multiplex, up to another 1/9 of capacity.

Community

Designated community radio broadcasting licensees can access up to 2/9 of the digital radio multiplex transmitter capacity. This equates to 256 kbit/s and about 4 FM-quality services.

We define designated community broadcasting licensees as:

  • those with services planned in a commercial radio licence area
  • those whose licence area we deem (or the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 deems) to be same as a commercial radio licence area for digital radio

Learn about the special conditions with community digital radio.

Foundation licence

We can declare that a category 1 or category 2 licence is a ‘foundation’ licence.

For each foundation category 1 digital radio multiplex transmitter, we reserve 7/9 of the capacity for commercial and 2/9 for community radio broadcasting services.

This allows existing radio broadcasters to form a joint venture company to hold the licence and provide digital radio services under the licence. You can find the declarations on the digital radio notices page.

Applying for the foundation licence

An eligible joint venture company can apply for the foundation digital radio multiplex transmitter licence once:

If we get no applications after 120 days (or we refuse applications) we can issue the licence via a price-based system (such as an auction).

Eligible joint venture company

You can find the rules for forming an eligible joint venture company in sections 102C and 102D of the Radiocommunications Act 1992. Some of the conditions include:

  • It must be a qualified company.
  • The company promoters must invite incumbent digital commercial radio broadcasting licensees to subscribe for shares. (Incumbent licensees are those who held a commercial licence at May 2007. This is when the digital radio legislation came into effect.)
  • The promoters must invite digital community radio broadcasters in the licence area to subscribe for shares. (See community digital radio.)
  • We must publish the invitation to subscribe for shares on our website. (See digital radio notices.)
  • The invitation to subscribe for shares must stay open for at least 80 days. It may close sooner if all invitees have responded.
  • Company promoters must not pressure those invited to subscribe for shares to accept.
  • Incumbent licensees who accept the invitation must receive an equal number of shares.
  • Digital community radio broadcasters that accept invitations must hold 2/9 of shares.
  • Subscribers for shares must pay equal amounts.
  • The total amount payable for the issue of shares must not be far greater than the amount needed to run the company.
  • The only persons entitled to subscribe for shares in the joint venture company are:
    • incumbent digital commercial radio broadcasting licensees
    • the digital community radio broadcasting representative company 

Digital radio multiplex transmitter licence application

Licence conditions

For general information about apparatus licensing, see apparatus licensing overview and apparatus licensing system.

Digital radio multiplex transmitter licensees must meet the following conditions:

1. Comply with the Radiocommunications Act 1992.
2. Pay relevant charges and licence tax.
3. Inform each person authorised to operate the multiplex transmitter they must comply with the Radiocommunications Act 1992 and conditions of the licence.
4. Operate the multiplex transmitter within licence specifications and those in the digital radio channel plan.
5. A category 1 licence must only provide digital commercial and, if relevant, digital community radio broadcasting services.
6. A category 2 licence must only provide digital national, commercial and, if relevant, community radio broadcasting services.
7. A category 3 licence must only provide a digital national radio broadcasting service.
8. Category 1 and category 2 licences must start providing a digital radio broadcasting service on the digital radio start-up day and at all times thereafter.
9. Transmit the service using a digital modulation technique.
10. Not to conduct any activities other than operating the multiplex transmitter and related activities under the licence.
11. Comply with the Broadcasting Services (Technical Planning) Guidelines 2017.
12. Comply with industry standards in section 130V(1) of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.

See sections 109B and 109D of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 for more information.

Copy of licences

View the digital radio multiplex transmitter licenses on our Register of Radiocommunications Licences (use Google Chrome rather than Internet Explorer):

  • select ‘Licences by Sub Service’
  • select ‘Broadcasting - Cat 3 DRMT' or ‘Broadcasting -Foundation Cat 1 DRMT’
Next up: Digital radio notices
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