Cath Dwyer, the Manager of RN, Radio and Radio Australia has told the digital radio workshop at DBS Kuala Lumpur that Australia’s national broadcaster is committed to DAB+ transmission as part of its multiplatform strategy.
“The ABC is a trusted and well listened to public broadcaster in Australia. We host big national conversations such as the ‘War on Waste’ or the upcoming elections in our country.
“We have been broadcasting in the Asia Pacific for 80 years,” she said.
Now the ABC has more content on more platforms at a lower cost than 30 years ago.
A lot has changed in recent years for the Australian national broadcaster, which has five national networks and a local radio network on its main channels. DAB+ transmissions are now on air in all capital cities, allowing more channels to be broadcast
“DAB+ is one part of our digital strategy which includes our apps, websites, tv and the industry wide radio app… There are so many ways to listen.”
The ABC has increased the number of stations on air by using the extra digital radio bandwidth. Of the new stations, the most popular is ABC Jazz with the highest reach of all ABC digital stations and the highest digital radio listenership in Australia.
“We used to have one or two jazz programs on our classical network then we moved that audience onto our 24 hour digital station. Audiences love jazz. We have programmed different shows across dayparts to deliver what people want at various tines of day,” explained Dwyer.
Many shows are unhosted and the network is run by 3 full time staff.
Another example of success is ABC Country. “Country music is very popular in Australia and we deliver it via DAB and via streaming and apps, so we can also reach regional Australia where there are no DAB transmitters yet.”
The ABC has also used the extra digital bandwidth to build ‘the J Family of brands,’ which are triple j, double j and triple j unearthed.
“Our stations now grow up with you. Young new artists are heard on unearthed, then they move to triple j, then when they are too old for triple j they can move to double j.”
For sport lovers, DAB+ has allowed the national broadcaster to develop ABC Grandstand, which broadcasts live sport coverage as well as sport talk, hosted programs, interviews and panel discussions. There has been strong growth of this station over the past year, especially for cricket coverage.
“We use our digital channels to test and develop programs and presenters who often then move to the main channels,” said Dwyer.
In the past ABC Radio also did ‘pop up events’ through a channel called ABC Extra, but they have decided not to continue that strategy. “It was a good learning experience but it was hard to promote, we gathered audiences for a short while then we sent them away again, so we have now repurposed the spectrum towards 0-5 year olds, with a new channel called ABC Kids.
“The ABC has for a long time had strong children’s content, so it made sense to add kids audio to what else the ABC is doing for kids. Kids love to listen sing and hear stories. Parents have become increasingly worried about their children watching to much screen time so this is a very popular initiative for children and parents.”
Dwyer summarised the ingredients for digital radio success from the national broadcaster viewpoint:
- A unique audience proposition
- Multiple touchpoints – web, app, social
- Community connection
- Content initiatives
- Value for the Australian audience
The Digital Broadcasting Symposium took place in Kuala Lumpur this week. See our other publication, AsiaRadioToday, for more reports.