DMG Launches Two New Digital Radio Stations
Last night, DMG Radio Australia – which owns the Nova and Vega radio networks – unveiled two new digital radio stations. NovaNation is dedicated to dance music, while Koffee is a chill-out and ‘lifestyle’ station aimed at an older market.
“NovaNation is an extension of the existing brand and the dance segment has been a really critical part of Nova since we launched in April 2001 – but there has not been a national, single voice for the dance community,” DMG group program director Dean Buchanan told The Australian.
Meanwhile, DMG chief executive Cathy O’Connor said that Koffee isn’t so much a brand extension as an opportunity to fill a gap in the existing market. Hilariously, it’s called Koffee because it will play the kind of bland stuff you hear in cafes. And funnily enough, coffee brands have reportedly espressed interest in advertising on the new station.
“We have tried to ask what is the unique music position that is not serviced in the cities where we are broadcasting and there is a whole genre of music in chill-out sessions and Cafe del Mar – they are big-selling gold and platinum CDs – it is much more a mood driven brand,” O’Connor said.
The launch is somewhat of a cheeky move from DMG, as the industry association Commercial Radio Australia is officially launching digital radio in Australia sometime in the next three months. The launch was set for 1 May, but has been delayed because, embarrassingly, ABC and SBS weren’t ready. It’s now reportedly been postponed until 1 August.
Both stations currently have live websites, but they’ll need to wait for the official switch-on to start broadcasting digitally from DMG’s Brisbane studios. Koffee will only be broadcast in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide.
However, NovaNation and Koffee aren’t the first Australian digital radio networks – that honour goes to Radar Radio, launched in December last year by Austereo. Radar Radio, whose name is the broadcasting world’s answer to “ATM Machine”, specialises in undiscovered artists and has a heavy focus on Australian musicians.
“Austereo has been leading the way in the digital space, with now more than two million podcasts downloaded every month from acts like Hamish and Andy and Kyle and Jackie O,” bragged Austereo chief executive Michael Anderson at the time. “We’ve also had more than 2.5 million video downloads from our sites in the last six months. Radar lets us build on the knowledge, experience and audience loyalty we’ve built up in the digital space in the past four years.”
The reason the major commercial broadcasters are so keen to jump into the digital market now is that no new digital radio licences will be issued for six years, and given the amount of time they are estimating digital radio will take to become mainstream, they want to be well established in the market by the time any new players can launch.
In Britain, about 60 per cent of radio listeners tune in via digital radio. It’s an example the Australian networks have been following closely.
“We’ve had the benefit of watching the UK experience and learned some lessons,” O’Connor told the Sydney Morning Herald. “I think it’s a two- to four-year proposition for Australia.”
O’Connor also expects the two stations’ websites to be gradually discovered over the months leading up to the rescheduled digital switch-on. “People need to see what they are going to get before they are motivated to buy their new set.”
That’s the thing. Digital radio won’t work with current radio sets. Listeners will need a new radio that can receive the DAB+ digital signal, which is being touted as crisper, more reliable, and generally more like listening to music and podcasts on an mp3 player.
Digital radio will also boast electronic program guides, scrolling text and slideshows, the ability to pause and rewind radio and to download music, plus access to more information including news, details about what’s currently broadcasting and what’s being advertised.
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