Digital Radio

On April 14, 2011 SYN will begin broadcasting on digital radio. 

To begin with, we will simulcast the broadcast that goes out on 90.7 FM across Melbourne. We have big, dastardly plans to create new digital radio programs soon though (insert evil laugh…) so stay tuned! 

Got more questions about digital radio? Below are some commonly asked questions. Hope that helps you out.


What is Digital radio?
Digital radio broadcasting is a new radio transmission system and very different to analogue transmission. Instead of the audio directly modulating the radio signal as it does with analogue transmission, the audio is first digitised and it’s the resulting digital data that modulates the radio signal. Stations will send a digital signal to a transmission multiplex that combines audio channels and encodes them into a single data stream. Community broadcasters will share digital multiplex transmission facilities with commercial broadcasters.

Can all community radio stations start digital services in 2010?
Federal Government policy is to introduce digital radio in stages. The first stage applies to metropolitan wide broadcasting services in the mainland capital cities of Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. This policy was first announced in 2007. Metro-wide community stations in those cities have limited and shared access to digital capacity on multiplexes in each city to commence services in 2010.

There are also industry discussions for digital trials in regional areas but there is not yet a Federal Government policy position for the introduction of digital radio in regional areas or for sub-metropolitan community stations.

What does it mean in technical terms?
The nine Melbourne community stations will each broadcast at 48kbps. This is compared to commercial stations at 128kbps each. Under legislation, metro-wide community stations share access with each other to 2/9ths of digital capacity allocated on each available multiplex.

How will community stations be able to afford digital radio?
The Federal Government has made funding available for transmission and content delivery infrastructure for the introduction of community digital radio in capital cities. This infrastructure is currently being put in place through the CBAA Digital Radio Project with funding support delivered through the Community Broadcasting Foundation (CBF). The community broadcasting sector will continue to lobby for further funding as digital radio develops and to support the ongoing development of digital content.

What does ‘associated data’ mean?
This is the extra information that can be supplied with audio for digital radio. Text information and pictures can be provided along with the audio as part of digital transmission. For example: Track listings, information about radio programs, and information related to interviews .
What kind of services will community stations broadcast on digital radio?
A wide variety, and a mixture of simulcasts of analog services, and original content. Some stations plan to simulcast their analog service, some plan to simulcast for a while and experiment with original content, some plan to offer original content from the get-go, and others will be a mixture of all these options. As community radio has always done, community digital radio will offer wide range of programming, opinions and tastes on offer.
Some stations might have volunteers who are keen to make new programs that there isn’t room for in the existing service, or podcasters that are already making programs that are not broadcast, or areas of programs that are currently in late night spots that could broadcast in the afternoon on a digital service.

Some stations may want to schedule their existing programs in different timeslots on their digital service or experiment with in their existing format.

In the early stages it may be a challenge to extend programming given the low resources that community stations have, but over time community digital radio offers the potential to extend programming and therefore access and participation in radio-making for volunteer, as well as greater choice for listeners.