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Digital radio legislation

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Legislation to allow the introduction of Australia's first digital radio services was passed in May 2007. The Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Digital Radio) Act 2007 and the associated Radio Licence Fees Amendment Act 2007 amended the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, the Radiocommunications Act 1992, the Trade Practices Act 1974 and the Radio Licence Fees Act 1964.

The first digital radio services use the enhanced version of the Digital Audio Broadcasting technology: DAB+. Additional legislation may be required if and when alternative technologies are identified as more appropriate for regional Australia. To this end, the legislation provided for a review, by 2011, of digital radio technologies most appropriate for regional areas. The report of the review was tabled in Parliament on 12 October 2011.

Other elements of the digital radio legislation include:

  • The provision of the first digital radio services by commercial and wide-coverage community radio broadcasting licensees and the national broadcasters.
  • A new multiplex transmitter licence category to accommodate the shared transmission platforms (multiplexes) of the DAB system.
  • Planning for and licensing of digital radio services by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
  • A requirement for multiplex licensees to commence and continue to provide digital radio services (on or before 1 January 2009 in the case of the state capital city markets). To give the industry adequate time to prepare for the introduction of digital radio, this deadline was extended to 1 July 2009 by the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Digital Radio) Act 2008.
  • The opportunity for existing commercial and wide-coverage community broadcasters to control the multiplex licences for their initial services, with subsequent licence allocations undertaken via a priced-based method.
  • A six-year moratorium on the issue of new licence area planned commercial digital radio licences from the commencement of services in the respective market.
  • Minimum access rights to multiplex transmission capacity for the commercial, wide-coverage community and national broadcasters on relevant multiplex licences.
  • A multiplex access regime to ensure operators of multiplexes provide access to transmission capacity on terms that are open, efficient and generally non-discriminatory, overseen by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
  • Power for ACMA to determine, if necessary, technical and industry standards relating to digital radio and restricted datacasting services.
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