Media release: Australian listeners could well be experiencing ‘world first’ features when digital radio arrives at the start of next year under initiatives announced today at the Australian Broadcasting Summit.

Chief Executive Officer of Commercial Radio Australia, Joan Warner, has announced new trials for specific features of digital radio including real time traffic solutions for listeners wanting to find the best way to their destination.

“Digital radio will be a multi-media experience and these trials promise to deliver a significant upgrade to the way we use and interact with our radio,” Ms Warner said.

“The format Australia has adopted, (DAB+), allows us to do so much more with the technology and we’re keen to provide the types of things that listeners, advertisers and broadcasters have only dreamt about in the past.”

In a world first, logo animations and graphics are being broadcast as part of the current digital radio trials in Sydney. By using animated logos and graphics an exciting new dimension is able to be added to the radio offering for both listeners and advertisers.

Commercial Radio Australia has entered into an agreement with Sentinel Content, (whose investors include the NRMA and RACQ), for the development of real time traffic solutions via digital radio.

Rather than receiving an audio-only bulletin about a problem, the system will deliver timely traffic bulletins and answers to the best alternate routes to the destination. The service will be available on free-to-air digital radio and using DAB+ will also be able to provide additional updates for in-car and portable navigation systems. Extra data such as parking information, fuel pricing and transit lane restrictions could also be integrated into the system.

Free-to-air digital radio services will begin in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart from January 2009.