Commercial radio is hoping listeners turn on, tune in and drop out – of streaming – with a new smartphone that lets them listen to digital radio for free.
Industry body Commercial Radio Australia has thrown its support behind a new phone, from manufacturer LG, that contains a digital radio, or DAB+, receiver, that lets users listen to radio without burning up valuable data.
The hope for the stations is for a boost in listener numbers and subsequent uptick in advertising revenue.
“We are giving them broadcast radio back into their smartphones, so they can receive every radio station in the city they are in,” Commercial Radio Australia chief executive Joan Warner told AAP.
“This will give back to Australians who used to have, in the old days, transistor radios when their radio went everywhere with them.”
Commercial Radio Australia will spend around $5 million promoting the new phone – the LG Stylus DAB+, Ms Warner said.
The phone, launched in Sydney on Wednesday, can receive digital broadcasts that allow text, images and song information to be delivered alongside the sound.
Although music streaming services such as Spotify are growing in popularity, Ms Warner said radio was not a competitor with streaming.
“Radio is more than music … the local news, the local information, the sense of local community, that’s why radio is surviving and actually thriving,” Ms Warner said.
When the phone goes on sale on May 2, listeners in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth will be able to tune into digital radio directly.
Everyone else in Australia will have wait to at least 2017 because DAB+ signals are not available.
Digital radio is broadcast in 40 countries and Ms Warner said there had been significant interest in the phone from emerging markets.
“Indonesia has just switched on the same broadcast technology and they said to me, `Where can we get our hands on these phones to promote them and launch them?’,” she said.