Digital radio

Community radio sector welcomes commitments to digital radio in Canberra, Darwin and Hobart

Helen Henry, 7th December 2016

The ABC and Commercial Radio Australia have announced plans to roll out DAB+ digital radio to Hobart, Darwin and Canberra, marking the expansion of permanent digital radio services beyond the current five capital cities.

The announcement was welcomed by Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA) CEO Jon Bisset:

“It is exciting that the expansion of digital radio to regional Australia has begun. The announcements mark an important milestone in the digital future of Australian broadcasting, and the community radio sector looks forward to the ongoing development of digital radio.”

The CBAA will continue to work closely with commercial broadcasters and the ABC and SBS through the Regional Digital Radio Planning Committee, chaired by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), so that community radio is maintained as an essential part of the mix of broadcast services available in these areas. This will be critical as digital radio listenership grows in these areas, as it has in the five capital cities where it is currently available. The latest figures, released by Commerical Radio Australia yesterday, show that 3.6 million Australians, or 27% of the population listen to digital radio via DAB+ devices each week.

“Community radio plays an important role in providing participation and access to local communities in free-to-air broadcasting and cultural content production that supports innovation, development, social engagement and social inclusion. It is a sector that makes a vital contribution to the media diversity that is so important to all Australians and, in particular, those in regional and rural areas, where two-thirds of community radio stations are located.”

For over 40 years, Australian Governments have been committed to community radio standing alongside commercial and national networks on the available technology as part of a primary set of media services freely accessible to the public. The CBAA will continue to work with all political parties to ensure this support is maintained in the future.

Community broadcasting is a key pillar in the Australian media landscape that contributes to and reflects our open society, strong democracy and vibrant culture. 5.3 million people tune in to not-for-profit, community-owned and operated radio services across the country each week. These services provide unique local content and a diverse mix of cultural and specialist programs including educational, music, Indigenous, print handicapped, youth, seniors, religious and ethnic language and multicultural services.

Community broadcasters with questions about digital radio are encouraged to contact the Digital Radio Project staff at 02 9310 2999.

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Community radio services in Hobart are now a step closer to being available on DAB+ Digital Radio.


Following the announcement of digital radio extension beyond the five capital cities, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has outlined the general approach and planning principles for regional Australia.


This paper examines the changing contribution of local radio to the democratic process in Australia. It takes the whole local area approach suggested by the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, to examine all the services available in three regional areas to assess their potential in facilitating public sphere discussion, disputation and deliberation, and (since the common assumption is that deregulation severely curtailed these processes) it does this in a historical frame, comparing the changes in services from 1976 to 2001. Because of its strengths in the analysis of relationships between the state (public) and private sectors, Habermas’s public sphere theory is used to frame this discussion. Recent theoretical extensions have also seen the welcome elaboration of issues of power (Fraser, 1992, 2000) and the inclusion of a new and subtle range of cultural issues (Peters, 1993; McGuigan, 1997, 2004; Keane, 1998) inside its developing literature.