Random Radio

What the ABC needs is to use SFN -single frequency networks - like putting the RN outlets all on 576khz synchonised. That would help free up a lot of AM/FM frequencies.

Having a mix of analogue & digital broadcasts on the same band (like AM) won’t work. The eg is IBOC on AM in America hasn’t worked out too well.

Plus as others have said, the public is indifferent to all this & won’t be bothered.

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No timeframe for ABC/SBS to roll out a DRM network regionally, it has to be agreed officially with ACMA & everyone involved that DRM will be used regionally first, & the fight about DAB+ regionally is still ongoing.

If DRM is rolled out regionally, receivers used in other DRM markets will come here & will probably start off slow like they did with DAB+ startup, but then all the big manufacturers will get on board & make dual format radios that’ll switch easily between DAB+ for metro & DRM regionally, just like AM/FM receivers, (AM/FM, DAB+/DRM, no difference).

If DRM is agreed to be rolled out regionally, no it won’t only be the ABC & SBS, all the commercials will use DRM & so will the local community stations.

This isn’t any insider knowledge, just my personal thoughts, DAB+ may roll out regionally on the Gold Coast (after they get their fight with Brisbane sorted), it may roll out in Wollongong, it’ll possibly roll out in areas where Grants own stations, ACE & Resonate network station areas (slim) maybe, unlikely on the Sunshine Coast (EON probably can’t afford it do it), anywhere SCA own stations (they don’t have the money, (regionally it’d cost SCA multi-millions to cover everywhere), BOG/SRN areas, Billy boy won’t pay for that (as much as he might like to have digital radio).

With the COVID-19 situation & the debt the Government has gone into, there’ll be no grants, subsidies or full payment from Government like CRA would be hoping there would be for DAB+ regionally.


DVB-T2 could be a saviour for DAB by freeing up a lot of VHF Band III frequencies which could make a lot more higher powered services available.

But that is a long way off.

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Possibly not, just because you could put the existing DVB-T channels onto 1 or 2 DVB-T2 channels, doesn’t mean the TV networks will give up the spectrum they have now without a massive fight, they’ll use the space they’ve already got to add more channels, possibly even a mix with encrypted pay channels?


You reckon? For a market the size of regional Australia as metropolitan area listeners will just stick with their existing DAB+ receivers if they haven’t already switched to streaming.

So existing cash strapped regional local and community stations will have to fork out for new DRM compatible transmitters?

Outside of the broadcast industry echo chamber this DRM push makes no economic sense whatsoever and wouldn’t pass the pub test.

While many would consider that DAB hasn’t been the raging success that the CRA press releases would say it is why introduce another digital radio standard for regional Australia even if it can operate alongside DAB?

Like others have said here it’s 10-15 years to late.

I think given the choice those in regional Australia would prefer improved mobile coverage!


That’s a very flawed argument, HD Radio & DRM are vey close in their operations (the way they work), almost every AM/FM transmitter made in the last 5 years is HD ready, DRM capable (if not also DRM ready).

Many regional commercial & community stations (& ABC/SBS) over the past 2-3 years have replaced or are going to replace (within the next 2-3 years) their transmitters.

In most cases, using DRM regionally would be minimal or no cost to the broadcasters, as they already have the capability to do it, or can easily get that capability at minimal cost, that’s why the push to use DRM regionally from the ABC/SBS & regional commercial & community broadcasters.

But you’d have them spend literally millions to roll out DAB+, which would need new transmitters (doubling up because AM/FM transmitters can’t be used for DAB+, it’s in different bands & can’t do hybrid Analogue /Digital), new antennas, possibly new towers (if there’s no available space left on existing), & that’s just for the main site, then they’d need to build numerous in-fill/repeater DAB+ sites in each market area because of DAB+ coverage issues?


Just to be clear I’m not making a technical argument in the DRM v DAB war. I actually think DRM is a good technology but alas it’s too late, we are living in an IP world with most regional areas now enjoying 4G mobile coverage and NBN.

An existing contemporary transmitter may indeed be DRM compatible but I’m sure there’d still be a cost attached to enable a licensed feature or firmware upgrade even if it’s trivial.

My argument is on the business case for DRM and for the reasons I’ve listed above the broadcast industry is clearly delusional if they think consumers are going to run out and buy an expensive DRM radio (because the economies of scale won’t be there) to listen to to a station they’re probably already listening to on a small white or black hockey puck or cylinder on the kitchen bench.

I appreciate you work in the terrestrial transmission business but sometimes it’s good to step out of that world and look to see what consumers want and are indeed buying. DAB was a hard enough sell imagine how hard DRM would be!


No chance - my expectation of an end state of a DVB-T2 transition would be to have 5 blocks of 3 DVB-T2 channels - which delivers roughly equivalent amount of data per channel as they have now, while a shift to H.265 would allow higher quality or more channels in that space.

That would mean using 6/7/8 and 10/11/12 in VHF Band III as two blocks, leaving the 9/9A DAB band. That then allows 27-29, 30-32, 33-35 as the other channel blocks, and leave the whole of UHF Band VI free, and can have an appropriate guard band to use the internationally agreed 600MHz band for 5G. Yes this means moving existing UHF only areas to VHF, that would need to be planned carefully

While DAB was able to get ‘free’ spectrum - they would be competing against a plan that would substantially increase the amount of spectrum able to be sold off for mobile use - something that could sell for billions, and again more than offset the costs to broadcasters and consumers of another switch of technology.

The other problem for DAB is that this spectrum wouldn’t become available until the very end of the process - after a full restack is completed - that’s 2030 or so - meanwhile you’re still stuck with 8 blocks to roll out DAB with. You can’t use VHF 10 (DAB 10A-10D) because that’s going to be needed to run the first set of DVB-T2 services to kickstart the second transition.


We need 600MHz for 5G as it will improve propagation.

Great other comments you make too.

Shift to DRM+ I feel is best.

If the pandemic had brought market failure to commercial radio, ABC/SBS would be in much stronger position to DRM.

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AirCheck has released their latest Music Radio Crosscover report for Melbourne: https://radioinfo.com.au/news/fox-and-nova-share-over-third-their-playlists-aircheck


  • Fox vs KIIS
  • Nova vs KIIS
  • Fox vs Nova
  • Smooth vs Gold
  • Gold vs Triple M

Both KIIS & Fox play far more unique tracks than Nova. When comparing with Fox, Nova has a very low number of unique tracks played, with only 8.6% of its playlist not heard on Fox, while just over a 1/3 of its playlist is being shared with Fox.

When comparing with Smooth, Gold plays more unique tracks (43%) than the former (35.6%), which is the opposite to that of Sydney, where Smooth (41.7%) plays more unique tracks than WS (35%). The crossover between Gold & Triple M (26.6%) is more than that of between WS & Triple M (22.7%), with the latter playing more unique tracks than either Gold or WS.


So Gold has a broader playlist than WS?


Basically speaking, yes.


Yep, millimetre wave 5G is going to be totally impractical in Australia much beyond the CBD cores - and turning off 2G/3G is only going to recover some spectrum, while more and more services shift to mobile broadband.

I think regional areas as a whole absolutely prioritise reliable mobile communication above all else, the lower band stuff is the way forward to keep serving regional and remote areas.

As for radio, restoring the ABC’s former shortwave services as DRM30 transmissions would be a good start.


Could be, apart from the fact that the old ABC shortwave transmitters in Shepparton are now demolished and the land sold to developers for more housing.

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My knowledge isn’t great on this but I don’t understand why ABC is still using AM bands in metro areas like Sydney. Aren’t most regional stations under ABC on FM anyway?

Are they doing it as a ratings or licensing thing?

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Probably a combination of:

  • Spectrum capacity - the FM band is pretty heavily congested in the 5 state capitals
  • Listener habits - many of their listeners are probably rusted on AM listeners, and couldn’t really care about FM
  • ACMA - would probably prefer to auction off frequencies to commercial broadcasters for the $$$$.

Not only that, one FM transmitter can’t match the coverage of the 50kW blowtorches in the cap cities.


Indeed, I think 702AM is receivable across most of NSW (especially at night)?


Not sure about 702 but 549 Orange blasts out to all of NSW west of the Great Dividing Range.

702 has been that powerful here in Brisbane at night it used to cause interference to 4KQ on 693. Since KQ moved off the island this isn’t an issue anymore.


Also much of the programming on Local Radio, RN and NewsRadio is talk-based, not much to be gained by switching them to FM.

Although on that note, a question. Where ABC does have FM transmitters for Local Radio, RN and NewsRadio, for instance, are they in stereo or they still mono?

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