Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has released a report recommending that the Australian government expand digital radio for regional Australia. Turnbull suggests doing this by establishing a Digital Radio Planning committee and removing current restrictions and obstacles.
The report outlines that the government facilitate industry planning and implementation of digital radio, with incentives to focus quick action in regional areas. Among them is the option of allowing new entrants in regional areas by mid-2018 if existing regional services are not yet on-air. The report also recommends removing restrictions on new digital only licenses, both in metropolitan and regional areas.
Both industry bodies, Commercial Radio Australia and the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia support the initiative. “This means that regional Australians will not suffer a digital divide in relation to free to air broadcast but will eventually be on equal footing with the metropolitan counterparts,” said Joan Warner, CEO of the CRA.
DAB+ digital radio services in metropolitan Australia currently reach 3.2 million people and more than 190,000 vehicles featuring digital radio have been sold, said the report.