Future of radio

That would be the issue, getting those at a cheap enough price for consumers to buy for use as an emergency radio receiver.

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I suppose that’s where it needs to be an active decision - we need to generally move radio to FM/Digital because of noise floor issues on AM making it unfit for broadcast - but we need a wide area broadcast solution for fallback for emergency services, and in general for areas it’s uneconomic to serve.

If you put AMSS + DRM30 as the replacement plan for being able to have redundant signals reach every part of the country and made it part of long term bushfire planning, you could ensure that such devices get created and get cheap.

Part of the expense of existing DRM receivers has been them trying to do it all with fancy multimedia stuff.

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I like your thinking but I just can’t see the consumer business case for it stacking up, there just wouldn’t be the economies of scale for those receivers (unless subsidised by government) especially if customised for the Aussie market.

Out of interest at what price do we think the average Joe would be prepared to buy one?

I’m just hypothesising here but I don’t think DAB radios really took off (some may argue they still haven’t) until they reached the sub $60 - $80 mark???

What I do think we missed the boat on was a Weather Radio/ EAS alert based radio warning system.

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The tech itself is cheap - just there’s no at scale deployments that cause demand such that a business would do a production run on such a device. There’s a claim of a prototype that would be $10 - https://www.radioworld.com/news-and-business/cambridge-consultants-unveil-prototype-for-low-cost-drm-receiver - with the same general goal - an ultra low power receiver for getting radio to anywhere.

I think if you started to deploy it as part of a plan to improve bushfire information delivery when power is cut - you could basically have the demand created to sell tens of thousands of units - at which point you could get to very viable pricing.

Based on power usage, a simple two line screen just decoding the text data - could send out alerts, and let you know when to switch on the speaker and listen to the audio information - maximising time that they last on battery power.

But yeah, agree on the general point - the US is so much more organised with their systems for weather alerts - and selling radios that can activate on them. That they do that largely for hurricanes, is no reason we shouldn’t have it for the extreme weather events here.

I think a huge problem is for the most part the devices for sale are garbage - they basically all have annoying fiddly controls and many look cheap and nasty. The ideal device would be integrating them into decent soundbars - problem is those are worldwide so the ones that have radio are usually just FM only.

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Certainly the low end ones. I found the Pure brand to be of decent quality but not without their own idiosyncrasies and still have 4 of them with 1 of them dating from the launch.

Unfortunately I think the ship has sailed there as well with most of them now eschewing analogue radio options for Google Chromecast, AirPlay & voice assistants.

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One of the concerns that have been raised overseas (and may have been raised here with AM to FM conversions) is that the power required is at a minimum commensurate with the broadcast power, but depending on the age and quality of transmission gear as well as the required amount of modulation, it can be significantly more, for potentially minimal benefit (audience reach).

One of the issues that the bushfires brought to light (and I believe the Royal Commission also investigated) is that both mobile networks and FM broadcasters went offline in part due to a lot of their sites being located in bushfire prone areas that became difficult or impossible to access in a bushfire. Some sort of AM broadcast (analog or DRM) is likely to remain the best option for the foreseeable future

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I agree, emergency broadcasting and rural broadcasting should retain AM but FM should be used in all other instances.

DRM and DAB are unnecessary with FM and Streaming in urbanised and regional areas.

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DRM certainly, since DAB is here I can live with it. It actually comes in handy as a PA system BGM source, got one going in this morning…

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Radio licensing, ownership and control

Licensing

The number of radio licences in Australia changed little in the past year. In 2019–20:

  • commercial radio licences increased by one

  • long-term community radio licences increased by one, as a result of 4 new licences coming into effect and 3 licences expiring (Table 13).

Number of radio licences by type

Licence type 2017–18 2018–19 2019–20
Commercial radio 274 274 275
Long-term community radio 353 357 358
Temporary community radio* 104 105 95
  • A maximum of 12-months duration.

Source: ACMA.

There was also minimal change in the number of community radio broadcasting licences by area of interest. At 30 June 2020, there were 358 long-term community radio broadcasting licences, compared with 357 in 2019. These continue to represent a range of community interests, with 1 in 5 classified as representing the Indigenous or Torres Strait Islander interest.

Appendix C shows the number of long-term community radio broadcasting licences by community interest.

Ownership and control

Media control and diversity rules seek to limit concentration of broadcasting ownership and control within licence areas.

In 2019–20, Southern Cross, Australian Radio Network Pty Ltd, Nova Entertainment Pty Ltd and Nine Entertainment owned most of the capital city commercial radio broadcasting licences.

Southern Cross, Broadcast Operations Pty Ltd (Super Radio Network) and Grant Broadcasters Pty Ltd remain the 3 largest networks of regional commercial radio broadcasting licences.

At 30 June 2020, 8 different networks (one fewer than the previous year) each controlled more than 6 commercial radio broadcasting licences. Together, these 8 networks control 236 licences out of a total of 261 commercial radio licences that are subject to the media diversity and control rules. The remaining 25 licences are held by 13 networks/owners, with each controlling 5 or fewer licences.

Appendix B shows ownership and control of commercial radio services in 2019–20.

During this period, there were 2 trigger events affecting 9 regional commercial radio licences. Six of those licences were previously affected by a trigger event.

Local presence obligations ceased for 4 regional commercial radio.

Radio and podcast listening

While radio listening was broadly unchanged overall in 2019–20, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in some shifts in listening habits. The early stages of the pandemic lockdown (April 2020) saw in-car listening decrease. The increase in listening at home more than offset the decline in in-car listening, with audiences growing between 5% and 9% in capital cities, particularly for daytime listening.

FM radio remains most popular, with nearly 8 in 10 Australian adults (78%) listening in the previous 7 days in June 2020, unchanged in the last 4 years. Around a third of Australian adults (34%) listened to AM radio in the previous 7 days in 2020, unchanged in the last 4 years (Figure 9).

Australian adults who listened to the radio and podcasts in the past 7 days (%)

Note: Listening to podcasts was not asked before 2020.

Source: ACMA annual consumer survey, 2017–20.

This does not include commercial radio broadcasting licences allocated under subsection 40(1) of the BSA.

radioinfo, 72% of Australians are listening to as much or more radio during the COVID-19 pandemic [webpage], radioinfo website, 14 April 2020, accessed 16 April 2021.

GfK, Radio: COVID-19 Accelerates Audience Growth [PDF 4MB], Radio Alive website, n.d., accessed 18 February 2021, pp 6–10.

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I love these CRA media releases. They should team up with Sky News to form a propaganda arm

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So they release a report saying they’ve done next to nothing on the licensing front for another year. They’ve added nothing to media diversity or increasing listener choice. Great job ACMA!

Commercial radio licences increased by…one.

Meanwhile regulators in UK and North America are still licencing new stations (FM and digital), both commercial and community.

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oh come on. you know new commercial licences will not be introduced. the entrenched players have too much power.

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Would that be 7AUS on the Wet Coast? Since it’s running Kix Country, it’s a narrowcast station in the fair dinkum department.

The future of radio is an oxymoron for most people. But I reckon the future of radio is listening to classic airchecks and independent shows on Mixcloud.

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Marty Sheargold predicts downfall of commercial radio within 10 years

“I think this shift – 6am-9am – should always have a place in this space. I think Drive shift and stuff outside of that Breakfast shift will become harder and harder to monetise, and I think they’ll probably fall by the wayside.”

'And then, he said, there’s podcasting and its ability to gobble brands’ marketing budgets at the expense of radio."

A bold claim!

Source: Radio Today

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India DRM promo on YouTube published two days ago.

There are other videos on this man’s channel, including reception tests, here:

https://youtube.com/user/drtkrao

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I agree with a lot of the comments under that article. The person who says their teenage kids never listen to commercial music radio is definitely onto something.

Why would they, when:

  • New songs are often added to the playlist months after their release on streaming

  • Many (most?) of the best contemporary songs are never played on commercial radio at all

  • The ads are annoying

  • Breakfast and drive hosts engage in inane chatter

  • Traffic and news reports are often very brief and full of ads. The announcers rush through what you want to hear, so they have more time to rabbit on about Domayne’s new specials

It’s almost like some commercial stations are trying to alienate their audience :roll_eyes:

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