By Chris Nicholls
SYDNEY: Digital radio supporter Bush Australia has hit back at a report that broadcasters are limiting their commitment to the format and that quality will suffer if too many stations are added.
According to a report in The Australian newspaper, Australia’s largest radio broadcaster, Austereo, will only add one digital channel per existing analogue channel when the system rolls out next year, despite initial expectations it would add up to three per bandwidth.
The newspaper quoted an unnamed Austereo source who said the reasons was that launching more channels would lower music quality.
“Our primary business is music, and we’ll want to keep the quality up,” the source said.
However, Bush Australia managing director, Daniel Todd, said such claims on quality were not based in fact.
“That’s not how DAB + works. They can triple the amount of stations on the same bandwidth and the quality will be better than it currently is on FM. That just comes down to the technology, so I’m not quite sure why an unnamed course would say something like that, because it comes down to the DAB quality, and is actually nothing to do with them [Austereo],” said Todd.
He said while stations could decide to lower quality if they wished due to running a large number of stations, the ability to broadcast at full quality was not diminished if only two or three channels per bandwidth.
In response to comments from Austereo managing director, Peter Harvie and Fairfax Radio boss Graham Mott that they would not invest a large amount of money in “something that will take a long time to give a return”, Todd said such a decision was sensible.
“DAB+ allows them to triple the amount of the space they can broadcast in on the same spectrum. If they start with 20 [stations] that would make a lot of sense,” he said.
“Basically, broadcasters have to make sure that what they’re doing is correct and that the content is what consumers want, so they’re going to do things reasonably slowly, you would have thought, but Peter [Harvie], was actually very, very heavily behind DAB +.
Todd also responded to allegations major capitals would have blackspots leaving up to 20 per cent of residents without reception, saying the stronger DAB+ signal compared to DAB would lead to fewer issues.
“It’s an issue we had in the UK with DAB, but DAB+ is a much stronger source, and I can’t see it having too many problems getting through walls,” he said.
“However, you are going to have blackspots at the start, because it costs money to broadcast and they’re [the broadcasters] going to be doing everything they can to keep their costs down, but it’s the same with all new technology – there are going to be issues that get ironed out quite quickly.”