Digital radio has the potential to deliver a range of new and innovative services to listeners. It allows for more efficient use of radiocommunications spectrum and its introduction will enable the radio industry to respond to increasing competition from new digital technologies.
In May 2007, the Australian Parliament passed legislation for the introduction of digital radio in Australia by 1 January 2009. To give the industry adequate time to prepare for the introduction of digital radio, the Australian Government amended this legislation in October 2008 to extend the deadline to 1 July 2009.
Commercial and national (ABC and SBS) broadcasters formally commenced digital radio services in the five mainland state capitals—Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney—on 1 July 2009. Community broadcasters commenced services in these areas in 2010.
The legislation is premised on digital radio being used as a supplement to existing radio services in Australia, rather than a replacement technology. As such, digital radio will be introduced in stages, allowing the radio sector to take advantage of digital opportunities and enabling consumers to benefit from new digital services that will operate alongside existing analog radio services.
The Minister for Communications is currently conducting two statutory reviews into digital radio services in Australia, in accordance with section 215B of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and section 313B of the Radiocommunications Act 1992, which will consider the regulatory regime and technologies. As part of this process, the Department of Communications released a discussion paper on 24 December 2013 for comment by 28 February 2014. While the paper indicates the deadline is 14 February 2014, it has been subsequently agreed to extend this to 28 February 2014. A copy of this paper can be obtained below. The Minister will report to the Parliament on the reviews in the first half of this year.