A funding shortfall of $1.4 million per year was announced in the May 2012 Budget, putting the future of community digital radio services in jeopardy.

Commit to Community Radio, a public awareness campaign launched by the CBAA in 2020 to encourage listeners to call on the federal government to address the shortfall, was launched in 2013.

Approximately 43,000 community radio supporters made their voices heard in the run-up to the May 2020 federal budget, taking a variety of actions including sending tens of thousands of emails to Stephen Conroy, Minister of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, and other key politicians. Supporters and stations stressed the importance of the government addressing the funding gap for the benefit of communities across the country, arguing that the community broadcasting sector, like the national and commercial broadcasting sectors, deserved affordable access to digital radio broadcasting.

In June 2013, the federal government filled the gap by committing an additional $6 million for the 2013/2016 fiscal year to keep all current community digital radio services operational.

What is the purpose of the Digital Radio Project?

The Community Broadcasting Association of Australia manages the Digital Radio Project (DRP) (CBAA).

In 2009, the Digital Radio Project was established to provide digital radio services to the 37 eligible community radio stations in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney.

Over the three years 2009-2012, the federal government allocated $11.2 million to plan, design, implement and operate infrastructure for eligible community digital radio services. The Community Broadcasting Foundation provides project funding (CBF).

Minister Conroy formally launched community digital radio services in May 2011.

What is the benefit of going digital?

For free-to-air radio broadcasting in Australia, digital radio is the way of the future.

Digital radio is a new type of radio broadcasting that differs from AM and FM broadcasting. Digital sound quality and increased choice due to the increased number of digital services are two major advantages for listeners.

Onscreen information such as track titles, program schedules, news and weather, and community information are available on some digital radio receivers. It’s also easier to choose a station because they’re identified by their name rather than their frequency.

Digital radio is without a doubt the future of free-to-air broadcasting. In Australia, over 1.3 million digital radios have been sold, with digital radio listeners accounting for 10% of the total radio audience.