Australia’s digital switchover continues to struggle

Australia’s stuttering transition to digital broadcasting has sufffered a further blow with an admission from the ABC that it will not be ready to begin digital radio broadcasts until July.  

Kate Dundas, the national broadcaster’s acting head fo radio, told The Australian that funding delays meant that the ABC won’t be ready for the May launch.

The May switch-on was itself the latest in a series of delays which have seen test transmissions taker place for more than five years without the service being made available to the public. Trials of digital radio in Sydney began back in December 2003 while December last year was at one point set as the switch-on time before the Government granted a further extension.

So far, the only network to give away anything about its plans for digital radio is Austereo, which has launched Radar Radio to champion unsigned Australian musicians.

Yesterday Commercial Radio Australia said it would start airing commercials next month to educate the public about digital radio. However, the availability of ABC stations will be a major driver for consumers, so the commercial networks needs the ABC to get on air as soon as possible.

Meanwhile the staggered launch of free to air digital TV has been met with scepticism, with Ten the only major commercial player to show its hand. It will be holding a preview of its new digital sports channel One next week.

Mumbrella expressed its own doubts about the digital rollouts earlier this year. Seven and Nine are still refusing to share their plans. Industry blog TV Tonight today criticised them as having had “eternity” to prepare plans, while allowing the Freeview marketing campaign to descend into “madness”. It also points to a spoof of the Freeview campaign which has been put up on YouTube today:


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