Commercial Radio Australia is talking to both radio stations and digital radio vendors about a new generation of DAB radio devices for cars that are capable of delivering video advertising as well as traditional audio advertising. The devices are set to be yet another distraction for drivers with some now saying that they should be banned before they get off the ground.

The devices when launched will result in consumers being able to buy iPod video devices for cars, 7″ navigation screens, a new generation of visual DAB radio and mobile phones with video screens without any safety legislation to control the use of the devices or where the devices can be placed in a motor vehicle.

Commercial Radio Australia are known to be keen to see the visual DAB radios launch as the visual and text stream advertising is an additional revenue stream for commercial radio stations. It also allows them to compete with TV stations and organisations like Google who are set to stream visual content to cars over phone and other devices including navigation systems.


SmartHouse has been told that the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, a Federal Government Organisation, is concerned over the safety issues associated with the growth of navigation and other devices for use in motor vehicles and that various State and Federal government could co-operate to introduce legislation banning the use of devices unless they are built in below a window screen of a motor vehicle.

One insider said: “There is every chance that Digital radio devices, navigation system or iPod players that deliver video to a device that is attached to a window screen or interfere with the attention of a driver could be banned under new legislation that has been discussed informally. Some of the devices are getting dangerous as they distract the attention of a driver”. 

A Commercial Radio spokesperson said: “We are talking to various makers of Digital Radio receivers at the moment. We have discussed text and image based scrolling in the devices. It will be up to the radio stations as to what content they deliver. The government has given them X amount of space and it is up to them how they use it.”


They added: “We are well aware of the safety issues however everything that is being done is legal under current legislation”.

This week Bush Australia announced a new generation of DAB+ digital radios in time for the January 1 2009 digital broadcasting launch. Also set to announce new DAB + digital radio devices for cars is Pure – another UK player. Federal Government legislation passed in 2007 has mandated that free-to-air digital radio broadcasts are required to begin on 1 January, 2009 however trials are expected to go to air in September 2008 is selected cities.

In the UK digital radio has had its ups and downs. This month has been a turbulent one for digital radio, with Britain’s largest commercial radio company, GCap, pulling the plug on many of its digital radio investments, saying that take-up of the new medium is too slow to make it profitable. Some pundits believe this sounds the death knell for Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB).

Yet despite this several vendors are banking on DAB in Australia to give radio a kick along.