IRIS Perth

Digital radio provides Perth service for Print-Handicapped

Helen Henry, 16th September 2015

The CBAA is pleased to see the launch of a new digital Radio for the Print Handicapped (RPH) service in Perth, returning radio reading services to those in the community with a print disability.

The service, called IRIS Perth, is part of a suite of free-to-access Perth community digital radio services.

The launch of the Vision Australia RPH service was made possible by a partnership between the CBAA’s Digital Radio Project and local Indigenous community radio station Noongar Radio, also supported by the local radio service aimed at seniors, Capital Radio.

“This collaboration shows the goodwill of a number of community radio stations in Perth, not least Noongar Radio, towards re-establishing this fundamental broadcasting service. This is what community radio does well: collaborate, innovate and address the needs of the community” said Adrian Basso, President of the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia.

“Using the digital spectrum means Perth has a wide coverage, good quality and free-to-receive RPH service now and into the future. 24% of all radio listening now occurs via digital radio, with some services already at over 30%.

“Perth listeners rejoin the other capital cities with digital access to RPH services. RPH is a keystone service on digital broadcasting."

“Federal Government funding and support for existing metropolitan digital radio services enables stations to provide unique services and a voice for communities not represented by other media. IRIS supports the social, cultural and political engagement of the large proportion of the community who are blind or have low-vision.”

“RPH services are so critical for those who for whatever reason aren’t able to access print media, and demonstrate the role of community broadcasting as a key pillar in our media landscape and vital presence on the future facing DAB+ digital radio platform.”

Former Federal Minister for Communications Tony Staley, who first introduced RPH services in Australia in 1978, spoke in support of the new service. 

“It's important to see this valuable service re-established for the Perth community on digital radio. It demonstrates the capacity of the community broadcasting sector to work together to provide a diverse range of digital radio services in capital cities, and the support of the Federal Government to ensure community radio is part of the ongoing development of digital radio”.

Manager of the Vision Australia Radio Network, Hans Reimer, had this to say:

“Vision Australia now provides radio services in Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth, as well as across Victoria and southern NSW. Other RPH services are available in capital cities and major regional areas around Australia. We’re excited that digital radio has allowed us to move quickly, and it bodes well for the future of RPH services that we’ve been acknowledged as a cornerstone of this increasingly important broadcasting technology.” 

Station Manager at Noongar Radio, Wayne Bynder, said that while the radio reading service is for the whole community, it has particular importance for Aboriginal communities as well.

“Aboriginal communities are over-represented with vision impairment. There is six times more blindness and nearly three times more vision loss when compared to non-Aboriginal adults. The partnership for the IRIS digital service is important for our communities,” he said.

Community broadcasting is Australia’s largest independent media sector, a key pillar in the Australian media landscape, and recognised internationally as one of the most successful examples of grassroots media. 5 million people tune in to more than 440 not-for-profit, community-owned and operated radio services operating across the country each week. These stations provide programming that caters to the needs and interest groups of their communities and contribute to and reflect an Australia that is an open society, a strong democracy and a vibrant culture.

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