France: DAB to Launch by Fall 2013

Terrestrial digital radio will roll into action in the French cities of Paris, Nice and Marseille by the fall of 2013, according to Les Echos. Before leaving his position at the Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel, Rachid Arhab managed to obtain plenary issuing permits for 106 projects in the three cities.

The stations concerned, which include Goom Radio and Euronews, have two months to build multiplexes for the distribution of digital radio, and the first programs will be launched in the autumn.

The CSA has also established a new timetable for the deployment of digital radio in other French cities. In spring 2012, the organization had planned calls for proposals for a phased rollout until April 2013, but none were carried out.

The question now is if Olivier Schrameck, the new president of the CSA, and the new advisor in charge of the project, who is so far unnamed, are willing to continue the rollout. The matter regarding the digital standard in France must also be decided, taking into consideration the approval of the European Commission for the adoption of DAB+.

The four main private groups (Lagardère Active, RTL, NRJ and NextRadioTV) have been opposed to the project and did not participate in the call for applications last year, citing the weakness of the economic model, especially given the double distribution costs to be incurred, and listeners who often prefer to get their the radio over the Internet. The government has not supported the DAB transition either by refusing to preempt frequencies for RFI and Radio France.
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