May 1, 2009 has finally been given as the official start-up date of digital radio in Australia.

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The Federal Government gave a six month extension from the original January 1, 2009 roll out, and now all parties are working towards the May deadline to start sending out signals.

Commercial Radio Australia and ABC Radio have consistently taken the position that the successful introduction of digital radio in Australia is dependent on an integrated national industry rollout with both public and commercial broadcasters switching on simultaneously in the 5 mainland capital cities.

The timeline issues had arisen as a result of intensive and collaborative work being done on a second draft of the Digital Radio Channel Plans (DRCPs) developed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). These will now not be finalised until December 2008.

“It’s from these technical specifications that the antenna design is developed and the final specifications of broadcast system can be finalized,” says Commercial Radio Australia CEO Joan Warner. “After close collaboration between ACMA and the industry, we are looking forward to a set of specifications that will allow much improved coverage to that offered by the earlier DRCPs released late in 2007.The infrastructure build of an entirely new broadcast technology is a complex one. We are committed to ensuring that we get it right from day one. Transmission networks last a very long time.”

Des DeCean Austereo Director of Technologies and Chair of the Commercial Radio Australia Digital Technical Advisory Committee said, “All of our transmission equipment has been ordered and is in production. The finalisation of the antenna design and installation will allow us to move forward to complete the infrastructure build.”

Free to air digital radio will allow radio broadcasters to provide additional audio channels, a superior quality sound, a pause and rewind facility, plus a new visual aspect to radio with the introduction of scrolling news, sport and weather text and the ability to transmit a picture of a radio host or band, the cover of a CD or an animated logo on screen.

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