Digital radio switches on in Brisbane on May 25

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.” 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.

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.

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 and 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.

Alternatively, simply SMS your postcode to the mobile phone number 0409DRPLUS (0409 377 587) to find out if you can receive digital radio in your area.

DAB+ digital radios will be available in all shapes and sizes including MP3 style devices, hi fi, portable players, clock radios, car adaptors and USB radio adaptors. Prices will vary depending on their features. Entry level radios start from around $150 and a radio with all the digital capabilities will start at around $299.

Manufacturers producing DAB+ digital radios include; Pure, Roberts, Bush, Revo, Grundig, iRiver, Sangean, Yamaha and TEAC with other manufactures expected to introduce further products throughout 2009.

Digital radios will be available to purchase at leading retailers including: Harvey Norman, Dick Smith, The Good Guys, Clive Peeters, Retravision, RT Edwards and specialist retailers.

Barring any weather delays, commercial digital radio services are expected to be switched on in Sydney 30 May.

ABC and SBS are expected to commence digital services throughout June/July. Please continue to check the website where information will be regularly updated.

Further reading

Digital radio terminology: radiotext and UPnP – digital radio will see some new terms thrown our way, such as radiotext (or dynamic label segment) and UPnP – we look at what these terms mean.

Digital radio review round-up – 12 of Australia’s first – Digital radio begins broadcast in Australia in May… and GadgetGuy has gathered 12 of the first digital radios to go on sale.

Digital radio vs AM and FM radio – Digital radio is touted as being not only new, but demonstrably better than AM and FM radio in terms of audio quality and programming flexibility.

Digital radio FAQ – What is digital radio, and when is it launching? Where can I get it? Is is free? What’s different from AM and FM radio? These questions and more answered.