Digital Radio


#2461

And it can get a really horrible screeching type noise when it can’t decode the signal properly. Especially bad when listening while mobile and the signal strength is on the edge of the digital cliff. Thank goodness we waited for DAB+


#2462

Rumour has it the DAB Commercial MUX is about 3 weeks away from being activated in Hobart.

Be interesting what will actually be on it with SCA and Grant’s being the only commercial operators in Hobart.


#2463

So I’ll operate on the assumption that they won’t have held an excess capacity auction, so therefore:
Hit 100.9 - 32kbps
Triple M Hobart - 32kbps
MMM COUNTRY - 32kbps
MMM CLASSIC ROCK - 32kbps
BUDDHA HITS- 32kbps
URBAN HITS - 32kbps edit - I can’t maths
OLDSKOOL HITS - 32kbps
EASY HITS - 32kbps
MMM AUSSIE - 32kbps
7HO-FM - 64kbps
Hot Country - 64kbps


For out there guesses - Grant running a Chilli station with just different ads from the Launceston feed, and/or Grant carrying 7TAB. The former is very unlikely initially, but it would make Hobart the same as their other Tasmanian markets (excluding for now 7XS areas, and obviously with some of them having SeaFM branding).

I fully expect the SCA section to be as above though, as I would expect they would carry all their digital stuff where they can, and that they won’t prefer to drop stations to keep up sound quality after them moving to carrying everything in Perth.


#2464

My Hobart Digital from Grant?


#2465

My assumption was those are only on the ones with shared ownership with Capital, hence Perth/Canberra having one, but Darwin not.

Darwin do have a Classic Rock station - but I would guess that’s generated in Darwin so it wouldn’t be readily available to feed down to Hobart.


#2466

7 stations at 32kbps will exceed the 256kbps that they’d have from the 2 stations.

However, I expect all stations will be entitled to their full additional 128kbps - giving SCA 512kbps to play with, and Grant Broadcasters 256kbps. I understand an auction is only required if demand for excess capacity exceeds what’s available - which can’t be the case with just 3 licences.

I would think SCA would want to launch their full suite of stations, however this would involve an increase of their playout capacity since each station would need to have ads inserted locally.


#2467

Community broadcasters are entitled to access the capacity auction, so it would depend on what ends up happening with that.

As mentioned previously when discussing Hobart, the quirk of licensing means if only Hobart RA1 stations are included, then only Ultra1065 would have the right to be on DAB.

If they do, then yeah - each of the four licenses eligible to participate in the auction could get 128kbps. If more community broadcasters are included, then you’d tip them over into potentially having an auction, though they could just skip it if none of them actually want to pay for more, which is highly likely.

Yep, I’m bad at math. Urban Hits is probably the one to drop, as it’s kinda a secondary station to Old Skool anyway. Or they could go down to 24kbps on 4 of the stations…

It’s the main question here I think for the general regional roll out - do they put effort in to it, or just launch with essentially just their FM stations in simulcast because there’s no money in doing any more than that.

If most DAB stations in the mainland capitals struggle, I’m sure the audience for advertisers in Hobart would be immeasurably low. Still, I expect SCA to try - even if that only means Triple M Country just to screw with Grant’s inevitable Hot Country.

Though given it’s an opportunity to reach a minuscule audience - perhaps you’ll have SEN deciding that they’ll follow up their off-band narrowcasting with some regional DAB…


#2468

The other community stations are ok too.


#2469

Good to see someone else thinks to lead through legislation to the detail.


#2470

SCA sent out a letter to all radio stations and many other communications license holders in Hobart a few days ago, stating that test transmissions will be starting soon, and the service is expected to commence on March 1st (assuming all goes to plan).

Because Hobart only has one RA1 community license, it was decided many years ago that Ultra106Five (7HFC), Hobart FM (7THE) and Print Radio Tas (7RPH) would all be eligble for DAB+.

Telstra have been installing the networking equipment for DAB+ at Ultra recently, and I think the encoding equipment is being installed shortly.

I wouldn’t expect the community stations to be on straight away though.

Grant Broadcasters is eligible for 128kbps, and SCA is eligible for 256kbps.
SCA could only run their network of stations at 24k (at 3A FEC) each to fit them all on (assuming they ran them all at the same bitrate), which won’t sound good at all. It would be inefficient and a waste of spectrum to leave 4 ninths of the multiplex unused, so I would assume ACMA will probably sell SCA and Grant some extra space to get 512k and 256k each respectively.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Coles Radio ends up on Grant’s slice of the mux.

If the sound quality was alright, SCA’s suite of DAB only stations would give people in Hobart a really good choice of stations, as we only have 3(ish) major stations on FM at the moment!


#2471

I didn’t see that, thanks.

Though that does leave the exception of Edge Radio, being RA3. I don’t understand the reasoning to make an exception for two of the three stations that have differing license areas, and not just add in the remaining one. Obviously Edge Radio has the most distinct and limited license area, but does that really matter when there’s no prospect of a ‘Hobart South’ DAB multiplex?

Hopefully in Hobart the other stations will do something similar to what has happened with Joy in Melbourne, and just give access to it despite them being in a different license area.

I have that worry for a lot of regional markets - where there’s stations each with a slightly different market to the others. Maryborough in Victoria is one example that comes to mind - places like Echuca and Kerang that are covered by the Bendigo license area but not Maryborough would be out of the range of the initial Bendigo DAB transmitter anyway, yet the planning will likely treat them as totally separate markets, but the spectrum capacity issues will mean that a separate Maryborough service would never get to air.

Bendigo is also an example for the community radio case - they have no Bendigo RA1 community stations (from a quick look at the transmitter list) - should they draw the line there, or at the somewhat wide coverage RA2 to include just an RPH station, or do they go further, and then be inconsistent with this Hobart decision.

If the Hobart community radio decision is a hint at the future inflexibility on merging license areas to better service markets with a bunch of distinctly licensed stations, I think were in for a lot of stations missing out, or extended wrangling over who gets on the multiplex in a given market - doubly so when it’s commercial stations rather than community ones.


#2472

From CRA:

The number of DAB+ digital radios in Australia increased by more than 930,000 last year, helping to boost average weekly audiences for digital-only radio stations to over two million, according to the latest DAB+ update released by industry body Commercial Radio Australia.

More than 4.21 million people, or 30% of the population aged 10 and over, listened to DAB+ digital radio each week in the five metro capital cities in 2018, up from 3.62 million in 2017.

The commercial radio industry’s digital-only radio stations, which offer alternative formats including chillout music, country, specialist rock, 80s and retail services, reached 1.35 million listeners each week, a 30% jump over the previous year.

And there’s also this:

Sixty-five per cent of all new vehicles sold in Australia were factory-fitted with DAB+ radio in 2018.

See: http://www.commercialradio.com.au/content/mediareleases/2019/2019-02-18-big-audience-boost-for-dab-radio-statio


#2473

65% of new vehicles is pretty impressive. A couple of resisters though, notably VW.


#2475

“930,000 DAB+ radios sold in 2018 including 745,000 in new vehicles”.

It’s either badly written or means that only 185,000 actual radios were sold. Not that great a number!


#2476

A well thought-out reply here.

Hobart has four distinct licence areas: RA1, which includes all national and commercial services (plus 7HFC and the two open narrowcast services); RA2, which gives 7THE a translator for Hobart North; RA3, which limits 7EDG to Hobart South; and RA4, which gives 7RPH allocations in Launceston and Devenport.

While I’m not familiar with the Hobart market, the distinctions between the 4 licence areas seem daft. For instance, what is the benefit - legislative or otherwise - of creating a distinct licence area for 7RPH, rather than allocating seperate licences in Hobart/Launceston/Devenport RA1? And can it be justified that the three FM community services have such inequitable access to spectrum?

From the perspective of the existing FM licenses: Does the 7THE service require a Hobart North translator? If so, why isn’t a full powered frequency available? And why should 7EDG be limited to Hobart South? In my mind, this inequity of spectrum access and population reach demonstrates a weakness in the planning process, and thus a failure of the ACMA to oversee spectrum management.

It seems equally daft that there isn’t more flexibility in how the DAB roll-out has been planned. It may require an overhaul of how the BSA is interpreted, but in my mind the ACMA should consider distinct license area plans for DAB.

In my mind, the benefits of this would be two-fold:

  1. Instead of requiring an FM restack, an LAP designed solely for DAB multiplex(es) can reducing the existing inequality of coverage between services. The presence of all three Hobart community services on DAB, for example, would be an easier solution than restacking all FM frequencies in Tasmania. This would include provisions for services like 3JOY Melbourne City, which is limited on FM to protect adjacent 3PLS Geelong.

  2. Broader licence areas would increase the viability of DAB multiplexes in regional areas, as well as the efficiency of the DAB roll-out. This would enhance the coverage of existing services (much to CRA’s chagrin) and facilitate competition - the Gold Coast roll-out could include 2MW, 4RBL and 4BRZ services which, despite not being licensed for the Gold Coast RA1, are currently heard within the boundaries. The Bendigo and Maryborough areas could effectively be merged, doubling the number of commercial broadcasters on the multiplex.

If DAB is to succeed en masse in Australia, limiting services based on unjustifiable bureaucracy cannot be the path forward. The ACMA should be planning for the real world, not blindly applying flawed licence plans in the roll-out of new* technology.


#2477

The incumbents really have scored a coup - they got a restriction on new FM licenses to protect them while they paid for a DAB+ roll out, then sold excess DAB+ spectrum to themselves at rates that absolutely don’t reflect the actual market value of what amounts to radio licenses in metro capital cities, which would then hamper any future FM competitors by there being no DAB+ spectrum for them to access.

I’ve suggested in the past that a potentially workable approach for overlap markets would be proportional access. A full 128kbps for stations with a license in the main market, and fractions for those who are in overlaps - so say 96kbps for 3EL in Bendigo, but 32kbps for 2MW on the Gold Coast.

Stations are already getting free access to the DAB+ spectrum in the first place, so I don’t think any station would have a right to complain about a station using it to reach into their license area - that happens with online streaming anyway.

As a relevant aside - it’s now over 2 years since the consultations on the Gold Coast draft DRCP ended - still no sign of a final channel plan, no sign of decisions actually being made, and no sign of transmissions commencing. I’m starting to worry they might miss the Commonwealth Games deadline…


#2478

If a Commonwealth Games happens on the Coast and no one is around to watch it, did it even happen?


#2479

It never happened. Major retailers reduced their trading hours as the hoped for influx requiring extended hours was bleeding money from the first day.


#2480

ZOO is STILL mono, it’s been like this for almost 2 weeks now. It’s still 48 kbps so it can’t be a bit rate issue.

Do they just not bother to check the over the air product at all ???

I think I will ring them tomorrow… This really isn’t good enough.


#2481

Their web stream sounds stereo, and identifies as such - http://144.140.228.109:9005/aac/listen.pls - so presumably the issue is on the DAB end of things.

They don’t advertise that web stream though - I only figured it out because the Gorilla Super Digi website references their stream as being at http://play.gorillasuperdigi.com/ - and then applying that same logic to the Zoo url to get http://play.zoosuperdigi.com/. The actual website is just an automated redirect to a Facebook page that no longer exists, and despite the stream working, they don’t link to it like the other under construction websites.

Really, how hard would it be to get someone to spend half a day getting at least some form of website up for their digital stations. Some of their FM network stations have fairly decent websites - though seemingly that’s because the individual stations seem to outsource it to a local business, rather than a centralised effort for improving their websites.