Digital radio services began in several state capital cities in 2009.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) allocated eight digital radio multiplex licences to joint venture companies representing commercial and community broadcasters. The joint venture companies are responsible for multiplexing together the separate streams of content from individual broadcasters and transmitting a combined stream to end users in each licence area.
The ACCC administers the access regime for the digital radio access service under section 118 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (Radiocommunications Act). The access regime ensures that individual broadcasters are able to access the digital radio access service for transmission of their content services on reasonable terms and conditions. The access regime is set out in an access undertaking that was put in place in 2009 and the ACCC is responsible for monitoring compliance with the access undertaking and approving any variations.
Information on key developments in relation to the digital radio service and the access regime are available on this page.
On 3 October 2008, the eight multiplex licensees submitted access undertakings to the ACCC that set out the terms and conditions on which they propose to provide access to commercial and community broadcasters. All eight undertakings were identical. The undertakings and supporting submission were submitted on behalf of the multiplex licensees by commercial radio industry body Commercial Radio Australia (CRA).
The ACCC was required to decide whether to accept or reject the undertakings based on its assessment of the undertakings against the decision-making criteria. The decision making criteria, as well as procedural rules in relation to the assessment process, were made by the ACCC through legislative instruments on 27 May 2008. It is only after an undertaking has been accepted by the ACCC that ACMA can determine that digital radio services can begin in a licence area.
The ACCC released a discussion paper on the undertakings on 23 October 2008 requesting submissions from interested stakeholders by 21 November 2008. Seventeen submissions were received.
On 18 December 2008, the ACCC issued a draft decision to reject the undertakings. The ACCC sought views from interested parties on this draft decision, with the deadline for submissions on 23 January 2009.
On 18 March 2009, the ACCC decided to reject the undertakings. The ACCC also began consultation on a modified undertaking that it proposed would become the undertaking in relation to each multiplex licence. The modified undertaking was based on the undertakings submitted by the multiplex licensees, but with modifications to enable it meet the requirements under the decision-making criteria. The deadline for submissions on the proposed modified undertaking was 3 April 2009. Three submissions were received.
On 22 April 2009, having considered the views raised in the submissions, the ACCC determined that the ACCC-modified undertakings were to apply to the digital radio multiplex transmission licenses.
The digital radio joint venture companies are required to submit annual reports to the ACCC. The reports cover matters relating to compliance with the legislation and the undertakings.