Mr Billson told the House that the transition to digital was the most important strategic issue facing Australian radio since the introduction of FM. But he promised that the government would not enforce an unrealistic and costly conversion from analogue.
Mr Billson said the first services would use the European Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) standard, the most widely used system internationally and for which a wide range of reasonably priced receivers was available. To give commercial broadcasters stability, there would be a six year moratorium on new digital licences after broadcasting began in each licence area.
While digital services would start in the capitals, the government was committed to the service being extended to rural and remote Australia. Mr Billson said the national broadcasters (ABC and SBS) should play a key role in driving consumer take-up of digital radio. The new system would be reviewed by 2011.
(Source: The Age/R Netherlands Media Network Weblog)