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Digital radio sits alongside AM and FM (analogue) as an alternative radio transmission platform. Like analogue radio, it is broadcast on a free-to-air basis over the airwaves. Digital radio does this via DAB+ technology. Digital radio is future facing and is a vital element in Australian’s multi-platform media environment. Community digital radio services augment community analogue radio services and online streaming. 

The Australian Government’s policy is to introduce digital radio in stages. Digital radio launched in Australia in 2009. There are currently 36 community digital radio stations broadcasting 40+ services in five capital cities: Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. Digital radio service trials are being conducted in Darwin and Canberra. Currently 27% of radio listening is by way of DAB+ digital radio, averaging out to 11.3 hours a week [1]. Community sector research echoes these CRA figures with 26.5% of community radio listening averaging out to 13.7 hours a week [2].

Listener numbers are around 3.6 million, with over 2.9 million digital radio receivers out on the Australian market to date [3].

The Government is currently developing policy for the introduction of digital radio services to other areas, and in doing so, it considers factors such as spectrum availability, legislation and funding.

The inclusion of community radio services on the digital spectrum reflects the Federal Government’s commitment to community broadcasting, to the production of local content and, to media diversity.

Community digital radio is facilitated by the CBAA via the Digital Radio Project. The CBAA is committed to the advancement and development of community digital radio services on a free-to-air basis.

Find out more about digital radio funding and other frequently asked questions here.

See Sector Leadership for more information concerning the CBAA’s sector representation roles including the CBAA’s submission to the Federal Government’s review of digital radio.

Digital Community Radio Station's Programming & Content

Some community radio stations in the five metros use the opportunity of a digital radio service to broadcast additional content for their communities of interest that can’t be heard elsewhere. Some stations have introduced all new digital radio services, some simulcast their analogue service on their digital service while others produce a hybrid  – broadcasting programs from their analogue service along with new programs which are exclusive to their digital service.
In addition to day-to-day radio services, digital stations also produce ‘pop up’ and special event services. These are usually a collaborative effort by a national network of community stations, examples include:

See which stations have a digital presence using our Station Look Up. 

[1] GfK CRA, Dec 2016, Digital radio listening. All stations 27.0%, 11.3 hours per week

[2] NLS National Listener Survey, McNair Ingenuity, October 2016. Community digital radio listening 26.5%, 13.7 hours per week

[3] CRA December 2016 amd GfK Point of Sale DAB+ Fusion Report

2016 CBAA Conference

Helen Henry, 28th July 2017

Digital transformation and documentary-making added to this year's program.

Keep Community Radio

Holly Friedlander Liddicoat, 4th May 2017

The community broadcasting sector today welcomes the Federal Government’s decision to increase sector funding by $6.1m over two years. 

Helen Henry, 21st December 2016

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.