Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) is leading a national petition to push the Federal Government into investing $500m into the regional rollout of DAB+ digital radio.
A policy commitment to a national roll-out and a timeframe is needed “ASAP”, according to CRA who has submitted proposals for $500m over 16 years to both the government and opposition.
“Federal Governments have supported the television industry with over $1bn in funding over the past twelve years to facilitate the roll-out of digital television into regional areas – it is only fair that radio receives similar treatment,” Joan Warner, chief executive of CRA, said.
The petition consists of a nationwide radio and online banner advertising campaign which urges listeners to register their support for the expansion of digital radio into regional Australia with their local MPs through the campaign website, WeWantDigitalRadio.com.au.
The campaign is forecast to reach an estimated 6.9 million Australians through its air-time on more than 200 regional stations.
“Audiences in regional areas have expressed frustration that they do not have access to the quality and diversity of free to air digital broadcast radio services enjoyed by their metropolitan counterparts as a result of the roll-out of DAB+,” Warner added.
“DAB+ digital radio will result in a significant upgrade to towers and site infrastructure in regional Australia.
“The rollout will provide an opportunity for commercial and public service radio operators to provide a greater diversity of local radio programming in regional areas.”
DAB+ has been available in the metro markets of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, with trials in Darwin and Canberra, for the past three years.
Almost 1.4 million people now listen to digital radio each week in the five state capitals and more than a million DAB+ devices have been sold.
Warner also said developments with DAB+ and auto manufactures is the result of the industry with support needed from the government.
“Motor vehicle manufacturers are waiting for some form of commitment before expediting market options for their vehicles – although some progress has been made in this area largely as a result of the industry’s efforts.”