Australian radio shows the benefits of working together
A morning of outside broadcasts for radio stations in Australia promotes the third birthday of DAB+ in the country
In five state capitals across Australia - Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne - more than fifty commercial radio stations, ABC radio stations and the SBS all broadcast their breakfast shows from the same places this morning: setting rivalries and competition aside to champion the three year anniversary of DAB+ in the country.
Broadcasters all came from the same place - Federation Square in Melbourne or King George Square in Brisbane - and breakfast show competitors were broadcasting next to each other: giving people quite an impressive way to see their favourite presenters in action.
No matter what station you woke up to, you'd not have missed the story of DAB+'s success in Australia. Commercial Radio Australia says that DAB+ has a 1.3m weekly reach in the five capital cities - that's around a 10% weekly reach of the 13.8m population after just three years.
DAB+ in Australia offers up to an extra 22 stations, along with current AM/FM favourites (AM stations still doing very well here, many market-leaders). Not having France on your doorstep has many benefits, not least that, because of no interference issues, they can broadcast DAB+ at transmission powers that would be impossible here. As a result, DAB+ has pretty good coverage within capital cities, even indoor. Many broadcasters are also using slideshow to add visuals to compatible devices, too.
The broadcasts were all accompanied by Toyota cars - the first brand to add DAB+ to selected models in Australia. This is more of an achievement than it sounds: the new Toyota I drove in January this year didn't even have RDS; and the total population of Australia, just 22m, makes it even harder to expect special treatment from auto manufacturers.
Australia's 10% DAB+ weekly reach compares to the UK's 28.8% figure (to DAB). We hit 10% around 2007 - five years after the consumer launch of the first £99 DAB radio; the Australians have achieved it in just three.
Radio works best when we use one voice to promote the benefits of radio. This is something that the Australian radio market - significantly more competitive than the UK - understands well. Every major station would have been talking about DAB+ this morning; and, no matter what you listened-to, you'd have been left in no doubt that DAB+ is radio as you know it, plus a lot more. That's one of the reasons why digital radio in Australia is growing well: and why we should look and learn from our cousins down-under.
James Cridland is the Managing Director of Media UK, and a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business.
E-mail James Cridland | Visit James Cridland's website
Definitely agree. Compete on content, but never on distribution technology. Interesting to play with the Ford Touch app and to see that, in this respect, Ford has a lot to learn from Toyota. They’re stuck in the analogue era of shouting frequencies to change stations on the car radio. Not quite there yet.
I was very impressed at the Ford I drove a few weeks ago in Germany. Not DAB, yet, but a really nicely integrated dashboard experience, complete with Bluetooth audio, a decent satnav and decent controls. Nicely done.