Digital radio gets a new name, plus...

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In the lead-up to the official launch of digital radio in May next year, a new website and advertising campaign promoting it was unveiled in Sydney today.

The new service will be marketed as Digital Radio Plus and the new logo features a large blue cross, accompanied by the tagline: "It's radio as you know it, plus…".

The designers of the logo anticipate the Digital Radio Plus logo to be as ubiquitous as the Intel logo.

The logo, and accompanying "sonic mnemonic" jingle, will feature as part of a million-dollar education campaign, and will feature on compatible radios and at the point of sale.

There is also a new website, digitalradioplus.com.au, which enables users to check if digital radio is available in their area with a list of stations, and includes some of the tuners coming to market in the next few months.

Consumers can SMS their postcode to 0409 DRPLUS to find out if digital broadcasts are available.

In addition to all of the existing commercial and national broadcasters transmitting in digital, industry body Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) said it anticipates new digital-only stations will come online in May as well.

According to Melissa Fleming from CRA, the government is considering a "use it or lose it" law which means new and existing stations will need to broadcast by July 2009 or miss out.

Though the official launch date is not until May 2009, test broadcasts began in Sydney last year, and as radio antennas are erected in each capital broadcasts will begin there, Joan Warner, chief executive officer of CRA said.

In the UK, digital radio has struggled against FM radio with several digital stations closing earlier this year, but Warner said that the Australian market will be better informed about digital's benefits as a result of the advertising campaign.

"No matter what style of radio you listen to — talk, sport, music or lifestyle — digital will enhance the experience," Warner said.

She added that the date was moved from 1 January 2009 till May to give more time to installing the new antennas and was a conservative estimate to avoid disappointment.

Warner said there was nothing wrong with the DAB+ technology itself, and that the "only negative is that we wanted to get on air as soon as possible" but delays in building the infrastructure were unavoidable .

The DAB+ standard, is based on the AAC codec as used by the iPod, and doesn't require as much bandwidth as the existing DAB standard. As a result, the introduction of digital radio is not dependent on the switch-off of analog television signals.



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