As discussed on 2UE today, digital radio was rolled out of Perth on Monday this week was the first iteration of digital radio, which will either turn out to be the next best thing in entertainment, or a dead duck.
Personally, I think it will take a while to get into the market. It has been available in the UK for the best part of 10 years, but it is only in the past two that it has really taken off. Commercial Radio Australia’s CEO Joan Warner has put this down them getting the model wrong in the first place, while here in Australia, we’ve learned from their mistakes and are reading to hit the ground running.
I can see the pros and cons of this new medium. The pros are obvious – more stations, more choice, niche content, and the chance to listen to music and subject matter that usually doesn’t get air time.
But some of these pros are also the cons. Too many stations, and suddenly the advertising dollar could be diluted, and therefore affect the viability of the stations surviving. There are also a lot more other entertainment options available these days including gaming, DVDs and a plethora of television stations.
At the end of the day I think the technology is sound. The format being used, DAB+, is ahead of what was being used in the UK when they launched digital radio 10 years ago, and vendors of digital radios are geared to go. Will it be a success? I think it will fall somewhere in between what its critics will say will happen (a failure due to lack of interest and satellite radio being a more viable option), and a runaway success (as CRA will have us believe).
At the end of the day, the radio stations have spent quite a bit of money on the launch, so even if they do fail, it won’t be through lack of trying.