Monday Media – DAB Radio Goin’ up the country?

dab stationA few weeks ago I was accused of being, and I quote, “Another doomsayer doing his level best to kill off commercial radio.”

That’s because I had the temerity to suggest that DAB+ Radio, or Digital Audio Broadcasting, risked going the same way as AM Stereo – into the dustbin of ideas whose time never came.

Well, just to prove I have no hard feelings toward DAB, I present some extracts from a speech given in Parliament recently – which paves the (somewhat rocky) way to Digital radio in Regional Australia.

“The Government considers that the commercial radio sector is best placed to determine the areas where digital radio services can be successfully rolled out and the optimal timeframe for doing so. However, the Government can assist by streamlining digital radio planning and licensing processes,” Senator Anne Ruston said earlier this month.

“A licence area’s ‘digital radio start-up day’ is the day on which relevant licensees are authorised to commence providing digital radio services in that licence area.

“In setting the start-up day for a particular licence area, it is expected that the ACMA will take account of industry willingness to invest in the required infrastructure and to provide digital radio services in that area,” she said.

“The Government remains committed to streamlining and reforming the digital radio framework in consultation with regulatory and industry players. The Digital Radio Planning Committee may identify further elements of the digital radio regulatory framework that could be simplified to further facilitate the rollout of digital radio in regional Australia in the future.”

Now, there are a million spins that you can put on that – but if you use all the goodwill in the world, it’s the Government saying it’ll move out of the way, and let the industry decide when to start up digital radio in the bush.

And when would that be?

Well, now THAT’s an interesting question.

Discussion amongst radio professionals seems to be divided … but the general consensus seems to be that it is time for the industry to either poop, or get off the pot.

After all, as Senator Ruston says … “(The Australian Communications and Media Authority) will take account of industry willingness to invest in the required infrastructure…”

So, commercial stations in regional Australia – and those in the cities who want to expand their reach: the ball’s in your court.

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