As with everything else in Australia, we seem to get things rather late. I mean, we are still not willing togo to High Definition TVs given the TV networks are not willing to provide any useful content to make us want to change. Digital TV hasn’t taken off at all. Sure people tend to only buy Digital Ready TV sets these days but there really isn’t much point if you are doing it for the content (it is significantly clearer though). So now its time for digital radio.
With the majority of European cars already fitted with Digital Radio receivers (given that the technology has been well established in most parts of Europe for some time), one can even pick up the radio stations willing to test digital radio in Australia already! So what do you get with Digital Radio?
Better Sound and Reception
Digital Radio delivers improved sound quality. The annoying interference and station fade so familiar on existing analogue radio services will disappear. This is because the Digital Radio receiver locks on to the strongest signal it can find and ignores everything else.
And with Digital Radio there’s no need to remember the frequencies of stations you like listening to as receivers are tuned by station name. National stations, such as the ABC’s Radio National, Triple J and ClassicFM stay put, so you won’t have to search for new frequencies when you’re on the move.
Digital Radio transmission is a far more efficient way of delivering radio programs. This means that many more stations can be broadcast within the same comparable amount of radio spectrum, making way for new services.
As Digital Radio is introduced in Australia, it’s likely that listeners will get more than just a better sound from their existing AM and FM radio services. There will probably be new stations that will expand listeners’ choice with specialist program formats, for example, country music, or big band swing, or sport or business, or seniors or children’s radio.
Digital Radio receivers also have a small screen that allows stations to transmit text information about programs on air. This might include “now playing” information about the song you’re hearing, the latest news and weather, business news and sports results, what’s on now and next and website addresses and phone numbers.
As Digital Radio develops receivers will be able to present graphics and pictures, and web pages to computer screens and PDA’s, further changing and enhancing your listening experience.
Digital Radio receivers are, essentially, computers that receive and decode a digital program stream into a format that you can hear (and see in the small screen). Like computers, they also have the capacity to store information. Already in some countries, where the roll out of Digital Radio services is extensive, receivers are available on which audio can be stored for later listening, or ‘time shifted’ by pausing and resuming the radio program.
Sounds good! If anyone still listened to the radio! Offcourse locally made cars such as the Falcon/Commodore still don’t have digital receivers (among other things like … fuel efficiency).
“We’re working with carmakers to have digital radio capability by 2010. We started discussions with Holden, Ford, Mitsubishi and Toyota two years ago, but they told us to come back when we had a government policy on digital radio. That’s now happened. When we go to digital, AM and FM will eventually disappear. But owners of older cars shouldn’t fear. We will have AM and FM until we reach critical mass on digital. ” Commercial Radio Australia chief executive Joan Warner.
Given that digital radio is to go live in 2009, the stations still have some time. But what if you still drive an old car that isn’t worth the price of a new digital reciever? Well the federal government still requires the traditional AM/FM broadcast of stations for another 10 years. Again, much like the whole deal with Digital TV, I don’t see this working unless we have no choice but to adapt digital radio and find it beneficial.