We’ve all been hearing about Digital TV recently – what it is, when it’s coming, and what it means for us, the agencies, and you the advertisers. Digital Radio is another of these amazing developments being discussed in media circles, which deserves some explanation and interpretation.

Digital Radio, like Digital TV, is the high quality cousin of analogue radio. It boasts crisp, clear sound, extra features (pause, rewind, Electronic Program Guides etc.), station name tuning (rather than by number) and a wider choice of stations, shows and programs. The result being targetability and customisation for the listener, as well as increased interaction.

So how do you access Digital Radio? Easy. Get it online or buy a new radio. The electronic retail giants are slowly grasping the new technology, with limited stock of digital radios now appearing on the shelves of the more innovative ones. Prices will vary, but are reported to be as low as $140 for simple clock radios. There are no ongoing subscription fees – Digital Radio is free. The technology is made possible by the DAB+ chip, which places Australia ahead of countries like Germany, Italy and China in the digital uptake race.

Digital Radio is being launched in the five major capital cities in May 2009. Perth stations going digital will include 6IX, 6PR, 92.9, 96fm, ABC, Mix94.5, Nova93.7, SBS and Triple J.

Digital Radio will bring similar benefits as experienced with Digital TV – higher quality advertising, targeted content, more choice, and probably, higher costs. It will be interesting to see how the launch in our capital cities affects the industry and also advertising activity. Uptake by the consumer will also be interesting. A national advertising campaign is set to launch later this year to educate the masses on the new technology.

Unfortunately, my search for accessibility in regional markets uncovered the following deflating statement:

‘Regional Rollout is to be negotiated with the Federal Government’.