Digital Radio Takes off from Italian Alps
     

Stefano Ciccotti, Rai Way CEO, speaking at the Riva del Garda event
RIVA DEL GARDA, Italy — It appears that Italy is finally ready to welcome DAB+ — for real.

On April 15, while speaking at a meeting held in Riva del Garda (Trentino) by the WorldDMB Forum, Stefano Ciccotti, CEO of Rai Way (the network operator for public-service broadcaster Radiotelevisione Italiana) announced RAI’s intention to finally move toward digital radio technology. “Within three years RAI will deploy DAB+ coverage of the entire region of northern Italy, from the French border to the Slovenian one, and from the Brenner Pass to Rimini,” he said.

Getting serious

Spectators who are aware of the public broadcaster’s rituals say that when the CEO or the managing director of the RAI or its daughter company makes a public statement of this nature with precise timing and geographic locations, it should be taken seriously. Thus, the broadcaster, which has been carrying out DAB trials since the late 1990s, is apparently in a position to switch to the fast lane.

Also on April 15, during a press conference held in Trento, which focused on a DAB+ master plan to kick off digital radio in Italy, Luigi Gubitosi, managing director of the RAI, acknowledged that Italy has been slow with digital radio uptake but that the country is ready to make up for the delay. “Italy is moving toward digital radio a little late, and for this reason we need to speed up the whole process,” said Gubitosi. “RAI judges innovation as a factor of development and therefore is committed in investing in new technologies. I believe that digital radio will meet customers' expectations and needs.”

Gubitosi explained that the broadcaster chose the Trentino district as a pilot area for the first DAB tests because the area is one of the most technologically advanced in Italy, and it also hosted similar pilot-projects in the past.

“Here RAI successfully started digital television,” he said. “The broadcaster will also continue to work in accordance with its public-service mission to extend coverage from northern Italy to the entire country, and to invest in technologies and value-added services.”

Luigi Gubitosi was appointed RAI managing director in 2012
During his speech at the Riva del Garda meeting, Ciccotti also emphasized that digital radio must offer content that is new and different from that available on FM.

“It is important for broadcasters to create content and exclusive products specifically for DAB so that it is complementary to traditional content,” he said. “The material must be capable of offering value-added information with the aim of creating an attractive market for advertisers and listeners.”

Tuner

Ciccotti further addressed the topic of receivers at a European level. “Here in Riva del Garda we are starting to define a joint strategy with other European operators to have a tuner built into every device — from tablets to smartphones. This tuner will be capable of receiving both FM and DAB+ broadcasts, which will allow all European operators to both standardize their offer on ‘traditional’ radio receivers and to be ‘present’ virtually everywhere.”

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