Technologies for digital radio services in regional Australia Discussion paper November 2010
Terms of reference
Australia’s high quality radio broadcasting services play a vital role in people’s lives. There is a radio in almost every house, car and work place, with Australians listening to an average of over 13 hours of radio each week1. Commercial, community and national radio are popular sources of news, information and entertainment. Radio also remains a key source of information in times of emergency.
The Australian Government introduced legislation in 2007 for digital radio services to operate alongside existing analog (AM and FM) services, allowing listeners within defined coverage areas who purchase a suitable receiver to gain access to additional radio services. Under the digital radio framework, services commenced in those areas with the most commercial potential.
Commercial and national (ABC and SBS) digital radio services began operating permanently in Australia’s five mainland state capital cities—Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth—in May and June 2009. Wide-coverage community radio broadcasters began test services in October 2010, with the majority of these licensees expected to be fully operational by the end of 2010.
At the time the digital framework was introduced, it was recognised that the digital radio technology used for the first services was unlikely to be appropriate for some regional areas. In recognition of this, amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the Act) included a requirement for a review that focused on technologies suitable for regional Australia.
Section 215A of the Act requires the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy to cause to be conducted a review of the relative merits of various terrestrial and satellite technologies for digital radio broadcasting services and restricted datacasting services in regional areas. Under the Act, the review must occur by 1 January 2011. The Minister must table a report of the review in Parliament in accordance with the statutory requirements.
As required by the Act, the review will also consider:
- the development of these technologies (whether or not in Australia)
- the availability and price (whether or not in Australia) of
- transmission equipment
- domestic reception equipment
- whether legislative amendments are required to facilitate the transmission
- digital radio broadcasting services in regional licence areas
- restricted datacasting services in regional licence areas
- the geographic coverage of the technologies used to transmit
- digital radio broadcasting services
- restricted datacasting services
- the characteristics of digital radio and restricted datacasting services that are likely to result from the technologies used to transmit these services in regional areas.
 Roy Morgan Research, March 2010