By Sarah Falson
SYDNEY: Legislation for planning and regulation of the new generation of digital radio was introduced into the House of Representatives last night which could see broadcasts begin in capital cities by the end of next year.
Veteran Affairs Minister, Bruce Billson, said that the transition to digital was the most important strategic issue facing Australian radio since the introduction of FM, as reported by AAP.
He also said that even though digitisation is transforming all media and radio was the last strategic medium to remain analogue-only, digital radio will supplement existing analogue radio for a considerable time and may never completely replace it.
Furthermore, the government says it will not enforce an “unrealistic and costly conversion” from analogue.
The new service is set to include national, commercial and community radio when it begins. The first service will use the European Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) standard, which is the most widely used system internationally, including in the US and Europe.
DAB uses a multiplex on which a number of services can be broadcast on one frequency channel, and a wide range of reasonably-prices receivers which can connect to DAB are available, said Billson.
There will be a six year suspension on digital licences after broadcasting begins in each licenced area, to give commercial broadcasters stability.
The government said it is committed to the service being extended to rural and remote Australia. The system is set to be reviewed by 2011.