Digital trials in Darwin & Canberra extended

Staff Writer

The ACMA today has extended the DAB+ digital radio trials in Canberra and Darwin by an additional 12 months.

The trial licences have been extended to allow ongoing bench and field testing and continued coverage modelling to be used by the radio industry, and the ACMA, to achieve a cost effective DAB+ rollout to other regional areas. 

CRA chief executive, Joan Warner said: 

“Australia is a unique market for the rollout of digital radio and careful planning is needed to get it right.  Much has been learnt throughout the year of trial activity about receiver sensitivity which could influence transmission planning and the number of services offered, which also affects the rollout costs."

"Despite the research to date, more work is needed to ensure regional audiences enjoy great quality and reception and that the broadcasters can deliver that at a reasonable cost.”

“Not only has the trial licence allowed us to test the transmission side, it’s given broadcasters an opportunity to try innovative digital programming such as the DAB+ pop up station, Canberra 100 dedicated to celebrating the capital's 100th birthday year".

The extension was requested by CRA, who did so on behalf of the commercial broadcasters, the ABC and SBS who are all collaborating on the trial;

“The Canberra trial is a useful and active collaboration of commercial and public broadcasters and government agencies. It is a good test of a single shared multiplex model which is being considered for regional areas and some important technical as well as operational knowledge has been gained,” said Ms Warner.

In Canberra, digital stations being heard during the trial are 2CA, 2CC, Mix 106.3, 104.7, My Canberra, Hot Country, Canberra 100 and Radar, plus multicultural and multilingual stations SBS Radio 1 and SBS Radio 2, SBS Pop Asia and SBS Chill. ABC stations 666 ABC Canberra, ABC Jazz, Radio National, triple j Unearthed and ABC Grandstand joined the trial in 2011.

In Darwin, stations heard are Hot 100 and Mix 104.9 and digital only services, Top Country Digital, Classic Rock and Radio TAB.

Canberra and Darwin DAB+ trials have been the first outside the metropolitan capitals of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. 

Total number of digital radios sold since the 2009 launch four years ago has risen to 1,318,596, according to figures released by Commercial Radio Australia from the Q2 2013, GfK Marketscope report.   

In addition, listening figures show that 1.6 million people or more than 12% of radio listening each week in the five state capitals, is via a DAB+ device.  Time Spent Listening (TSL) to radio via a DAB+ digital radio device is more than double that of TSL to radio via the internet.  


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