A clear winner
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.’’