A clear win­ner

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are telling us that there is lots of in­ter­est.’’

Dig­i­tal ra­dio broad­casts of­fer lis­ten­ers a long list of ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing clearer sound, bet­ter re­cep­tion, scrolling text to iden­tify sta­tion and song names, and 18 dig­i­talonly ra­dio sta­tions spe­cial­is­ing in top­ics such as coun­try mu­sic, com­edy, dance mu­sic and news.

Ad­vanced dig­i­tal ra­dios can also be used to pause, record or rewind broad­casts, and new fea­tures are com­ing.

This week Pure Dig­i­tal an­nounced plans to launch a ra­dio-based mu­sic down­load ser­vice. Called FlowSongs, Aus­tralia will be the sec­ond coun­try to re­ceive the ser­vice af­ter its launch in the UK last year.

Pure Dig­i­tal spokesman Peter Blam­field says FlowSongs is de­signed to take ad­van­tage of ra­dio’s abil­ity to in­tro­duce users to new songs and bring a thor­oughly mod­ern fea­ture to an older, more tra­di­tional medium. ‘‘ Be­cause your ra­dio is con­nected to the in­ter­net, we can use that to match the track and come back to you and say, ‘ Yes, this song is Bo­hemian Rhap­sody by Queen,’ for ex­am­ple, ‘ it’s avail­able for sale and it costs $5 or $1’,’’ he says.

‘‘ You can then pur­chase it right there and then and down­load it later at your con­ve­nience.’’

How­ever com­pat­i­ble ra­dios will not fea­ture hard drives, nor will they dou­ble as MP3 play­ers. In­stead, users will be able to stream songs over an in­ter­net con­nec­tion or down­load tracks to a PC later. The Mak­ing changes: Dig­i­tal ra­dio means the end of crackle and pop. songs will be avail­able in MP3 for­mat and can be added to iPods or other me­dia play­ers.

BLAM­FIELD says the ser­vice will be launched in Aus­tralia in ‘‘ a cou­ple of months’’ and Warner prom­ises a ‘‘ generic’’ ver­sion of the mu­sic down­load ser­vice for other ra­dio brands next year.

The in­dus­try also plans to test a ser­vice called Push Ra­dio, with a trial sched­uled for Bris­bane in July.

The ser­vice is de­signed to let sta­tions ‘‘ push’’ con­tent — such as pod­casts — to ra­dios, so users can choose to lis­ten to them when they want.

‘‘ You could even push in­for­ma­tion on dis­counts and coupons for buy­ing things us­ing this tech­nol­ogy,’’ Warner says.

BMW also re­cently an­nounced it would of­fer a dig­i­tal ra­dio op­tion in its Se­ries 5 and Se­ries 7 cars from next month, ad­dress­ing a long-term in­dus­try battle to bring the tech­nol­ogy to driv­ers’ ears.

But dig­i­tal ra­dio still has plenty of hur­dles to over­come.

Sev­eral blackspots have been iden­ti­fied, in­clud­ing Dock­lands, Syd­ney’s Surry Hills and north­east Bris­bane.

Warner says the in­dus­try has cre­ated a so­lu­tion to fill the gaps, called On Chan­nel Re­peaters, but their in­stal­la­tion will cost ‘‘ hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars’’ and re­quire time to in­stall and test.

Re­gional and ru­ral Aus­tralia will also have to wait un­til 2013 to dis­cover when dig­i­tal ra­dio will be­come avail­able.

While the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has iden­ti­fied a spec­trum to broad­cast dig­i­tal ra­dio in far-flung ar­eas, its in­tro­duc­tion is likely to be years away and tied to the cut-off of ana­logue TV broad­casts.

‘‘ Within the next 10 years all re­gional ar­eas will re­ceive dig­i­tal ra­dio,’’ Warner says. ‘‘ It will be a lot sooner if all goes to plan.’’

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