Radio an Endangered Species? ABC joins the debate

ABC Director of Radio Michael Mason also feels strongly about an article by John Patkin, published on radioinfo earlier this week.

Readers will recall that Patkin’s opinion sparked a spirited response from CRA’s Joan Warner, then yesterday futurologist and radioinfo contributor James Cridland weighed into the debate. Now it’s Mason’s turn.


I’ve seen the responses from James Cridland and from Joan. They were very sound and made a lot of the points that I would hope to see in a robust defence of the medium.

From an ABC perspective, I think it’s becoming apparent that Radio doesn’t have a content challenge as much as it has a distribution challenge.  

DAB+ is an important spoke in our distribution wheel. We are totally committed to DAB+ and our own data shows very encouraging uptake in markets where it’s available. Clearly we’re keen to see a wider rollout, and a real priority for us is getting high-power, permanent DAB+ in all Australian capital cities in the next few years.

Audio streamed to smartphones is something we’re incredibly excited about, but we see it as complementary, rather than as a substitute.  If free-to-air radio migrated to IP only and today’s audiences shifted en-masse, the telcos would fall over as the required one-to-one connections would overwhelm the networks. Radio’s one-to-many model is astonishingly efficient by comparison.

Some have argued these problems will go away, as bandwidth continues to grow.  However, history shows each leap in available bandwidth is quickly followed by a leap in consumption of bigger files – so usage is travelling upwards roughly as fast as availability.

 Overall though, and most importantly we are still all about meeting our audiences wherever they want to find us  – on AM / FM / DAB+, on their phones, tablets or PCs, in their cars, on the ABC Radio app or on 3rd party platforms such as the iheart radio deal we announced today with ARN.

What do you think?

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