Australia - Radio - Digital Radio


Digital radio operates in the five mainland state capitals of Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. Trial broadcasts services are available in Canberra and Darwin, while repeaters have been switched on in certain outlying areas of Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. Digital radio availability in the rest of regional and remote Australia is still being negotiated with the Federal Government. There are also considerations relating to funding the cost of setting up additional infrastructure, as well as decisions to be made regarding the frequency band most efficient to use.

The commercial and national broadcasters (Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Special Broadcasting Service) launched digital radio services in 2009. These digital channels compete with existing AM/FM radio stations and new digital media streams for radio advertising dollars and listeners.

There are more than 35 community broadcasters which broadcast digitally. These are part-funded by the Department of Communications, which assumed responsibility from the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy when the latter was disbanded in 2013. In addition, there are any number of ‘Event’ or ‘Pop Up’ digital stations that exist briefly, and are usually associated with events (such as concerts), promotions or fund raising projects, in the event of emergencies such as bush fires. For these events or circumstances spectrum can be assigned on a short-term arrangement.

While Australian commercial radio broadcasters adopted the DAB+ standard to implement digital radio, the excessive infrastructure costs are likely to slow its adoption and rollout in regional areas.

While digital radio can deliver a range of new and innovative services to listeners through the more efficient use of radio spectrum, its introduction is premised on the format being a supplement to existing radio services rather than a replacement technology. Digital radio has failed to live up to its potential. A key factor is that streaming of radio over smartphones, tablets and computers has become increasingly popular with similar quality of sound to digital radio. Also alternative streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora have also increasingly popular and operate as an indirect substitute to digital radio.

Almost four million new vehicles sold in Australia by the end of 2021.

This report provides an overview of digital radio functionality as well as market analysis, listener statistics and regulatory measures.

Key developments:

DAB+ listening audience broaches three million; community radio stations gain increased digital radio funding. ACMA extends digital radio trials in Canberra and Darwin

Companies covered in this report include:

Southern Cross Austereo, Australian Radio Network (ARN), DMG, Macquarie Radio Network, ABC, SBS, Chemist Warehouse, Coles, Community Broadcasting.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Synopsis
  • 2. Market overview
    • 2.1 Introduction
    • 2.2 Market Analysis
    • 2.3 Market statistics
    • 2.4 Digital radio still being trialled regionally
    • 2.5 Regional deployment of digital radio
    • 2.6 Digital radio as a supplementary service
    • 2.7 Challenge from mobile broadcasts
    • 2.8 The radio stations
    • 2.9 retailers and digital radio
    • 2.10 Community digital radio gains broadcasting funds
    • 2.11 Digital radio provided in vehicles increasing
    • 2.12 Digital radio coverage extended in some metropolitan areas
    • 2.13 Regulatory developments
    • 2.14 Agreement on new Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) standard
  • 3. Features and benefits of digital radio
    • 3.1 Reception quality
    • 3.2 Text, images and data
    • 3.3 Visual radio
    • 3.4 Music downloading
    • 3.5 Greater programming capacity
    • 3.6 Traffic information
    • 3.7 Advertising
    • 3.8 Pay radio
    • 3.9 Internet radio
  • 4. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Estimated size of digital radio listening audience – 2009 - 2015
  • Table 2 – Cumulative digital device sales – 2009 - 2015
  • Table 3 – Funding of digital radio community radio – 2009 - 2016
  • Table 4 – Digital radio sales in vehicles – 2011 - 2015
  • Exhibit 1 – Brief timeline of music on the internet – 1984 - 2014

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Digital Media
Strategies & Analyses (Industry & Markets)

Number of pages 11

Status Archived

Last updated 26 Apr 2017
Update History

Analyst: Phil Harpur

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