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The Digital Transition Down Under Examined

It’s interesting how broadcasters there are gearing up for similar challenges U.S. broadcasters are facing.

It’s nearly 10,000 miles from Washington, to Canberra, Australia’s capital city, but since policymakers in both nations have finalized digital radio plans in the past year it’s now up to broadcasters to make digital radio happen.

The Age newspaper in Melbourne, Victoria, recently looked at the digital transition Down Under and it’s interesting how broadcasters there are gearing up for similar challenges U.S. broadcasters are facing with the transition to HD Radio.

In March 2007, commercial broadcasters in Australia, working with the public-service broadcasters, opted to implement the DAB+ variant of Eureka-147 DAB. Services are due to launch Jan. 1, 2009, in the state and territorial capitals; from there digital radio services will spread across the country. A three-month advertising blitz during the fourth quarter of 2008 is expected to help educate consumers and to build desire to put a DAB+ receiver under the Christmas tree.

“We anticipate all 262 commercial radio stations will be migrating, [as will] the [public Australian Broadcasting Corp.] ABC’s five existing services, [public Special Broadcasting Service] SBS and the wide-area metropolitan community stations,” Joan Warner, CEO of Commercial Radio Australia (the Australian equivalent of NAB), told The Age.

While Warner is upbeat about the transition, others are skeptical and, like some HD Radio critics in the United States, worry that the time for digital radio may have passed.

However, as The Age article notes, broadcasters Down Under expect to learn from the experiences, both good and bad, of U.S. broadcasters and the rollout of HD Radio and from British broadcasters and the uptake of the traditional implementation of Eureka-147 DAB there.