The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission today finalised the access undertakings which set out the terms and conditions to apply to digital radio broadcasters and digital radio multiplex transmission service providers.

The ACCC commented that the decision follows 18 months of extensive consultation by the ACCC with industry and other interested stakeholders.

Digital radio services are to commence in Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney by no later than 1 July 2009 and according to the ACCC the next step is for the Australian Communications and Media Authority to declare a start-up day for the multiplex transmission services before the 1 July deadline.

“The legislative framework introduced by the Australian Government in 2007 provides for ACMA to allocate eight digital radio multiplex licences to joint venture companies for the provision of services to commercial and community broadcasters. The multiplex licensees will be responsible for multiplexing together the separate streams of content from individual broadcasters and transmitting a combined stream to end users in each licence area,” said the ACCC in a statement.

The ACCC commented that the legislative framework includes an access regime to allow broadcasters to receive access to digital radio multiplex transmissions services on reasonable terms and conditions.

“Each multiplex licensee is required to provide the ACCC with an undertaking specifying the terms and conditions on which it will provide access to broadcasters.”

The ACCC must then accept the undertaking before the ACMA can determine that digital radio services may commence in that area.

“The eight multiplex licensees submitted their access undertakings to the ACCC on 3 October 2008. The undertakings and supporting submission were submitted on behalf of the multiplex licensees by the commercial radio industry body Commercial Radio Australia. The ACCC considered the access undertakings against the decision making criteria set out in the Digital Radio Multiplex Transmitter Licences (Decision-Making Criteria) Determination 2008.”

The ACCC made the decision to begin consultation on ACCC-modified access undertakings on 18 March 2009, after rejecting the CRA-submitted access undertakings.