SYDNEY — The CEOs of Australia’s eleven major metropolitan and regional radio networks met in the capital of Canberra to urge legislators not to delay the rollout of digital radio.
The executives, representing 250 stations, met with prime minister John Howard, minister for communications Helen Coonan, foreign minister Alexander Downer, attorney general Philip Ruddock and other federal ministers and members of parliament. A total of 68 meetings were held over a four-day period, concluding March 17.
Joan Warner, CEO of national industry body Commercial Radio Australia, says the commercial radio sector is prepared to spend the A$400 million ($320 million) needed to build a digital network, roll out the service nationally and drive consumer uptake of the new technology.
“With the green light from government, all commercial radio stations could be simulcasting in digital as early as 2007 in metropolitan areas, and in regional areas around Australia soon after,” Warner says.
Peter Harvie, chairman of Austereo, says he is pleased with the meetings, adding that they encountered “no resistance.” However, the government has not yet made any commitments to the new technology.
Executives in the commercial radio sector are concerned that a delay in the digital rollout could hinder the technology as it competes against telecommunications companies offering news and sports information through mobile phones.