GENEVA — Each year in February the European
Broadcasting Union organizes Digital Radio Week, a series of meetings, events
and conferences that take place at its headquarters in Geneva. During the week,
a public conference, the Digital Radio Summit, also takes place.
Dixon, EBU head of Radio, presents his
at the Digital Radio Summit 2016.
MAKING RADIO MODERN
At the 2016 edition,
Graham Dixon, EBU head of Radio, presented the keynote speech “Making Radio
Modern,” which emphasized that proper DAB implementation won’t be just a
technological leap, but it will also have an impact on society in terms of
out that DAB incurs lower operating costs than both FM and IP technology and
provides a foundation for further innovative services, enables specialized
programs targeting children, news, niche music and culture, allows for
universally affordable and available services that are resilient during
emergencies and retains a wide appeal as a hybrid-ready platform. Dixon
suggested a new meaning for the acronym DAB: Delivering Audience Benefits.
Robinson, Global Automotive Practice director for Strategy Analytics spoke
about the future of media in cars. He noted how the trend in the automotive
industry is to aggregate several tasks, which in the past required dedicated
units often need to access or receive external data, like information to feed
onboard safety systems (weather, road status, accidents), vehicle position or
to update vehicle software. In his opinion, car manufacturers do not feel
comfortable relying exclusively on IP for delivering data to each vehicle, so
they are growing increasingly interested in the data capabilities of digital
the importance of strengthening relationships with car manufacturers because,
“user experience with digital radio in car is commonly reported as unsatisfactory.”
He went on to say that after further examination of this point, they detected
that inadequate user experience was mainly due to “poor implementation of
digital radio by the car manufacturer.”
believes that, since digital radio is still an option in the majority of cases,
it is managed as an “extra,” and therefore is “not properly integrated in the
rest, maybe difficult to locate or too complicated to use.”
RadioPlayer UK managing director, outlined how in-car listening is and will
always be key for the radio industry. Hill pointed out how the streaming
service Pandora is now approaching the European market by massively addressing
in-car listening. As an example, he played a recent commercial by Pandora.
unveiled the results of a survey conducted on 1500 people from France, Germany
and the United Kingdom who had purchased a new car within the last three years.
The purpose was to understand how people feel about in-car radio.
“The car industry is
marketing any kind of connectivity in the dashboard in their car, with the
exception of radio,” he said. “We see no commercial showing radio. But
thankfully, there is a radio in any car.”
Hill, managing director of Radioplayer UK,
of a survey on how people feel about in-car radio during
Digital Radio Summit. Graphic courtesy
In each of
the discussed countries the market share of car sales by brand is noticeably
different, but when it comes to radio listening, consumers from the three
countries show nearly the same behaviors with responses being similar across
age groups and car types.
percent of new car buyers said they would never consider a car without a radio
and 84 percent said they “always” or “mostly” listen to the radio on every
various entertainment options available (CD players, streaming, USB inputs), 74
percent of all listening in modern cars is still radio. When forced to choose a
single media to have in their car, 69 percent surveyed said they would choose
radio, 11 percent a CD player, 11 percent an MP3 player, 7 percent Bluetooth/smartphone
and a bare 1 percent music streaming. The latter being “where car manufacturers
have invested a huge amount of money for some years,” Hill pointed out.
Full survey results are available at www.radioplayer.co.uk/great-cars-need-great-radios.
Jørgen Torvmark, CEO of Digitalradio Norge
Ole Jørgen Torvmark,
CEO of Digitalradio Norge, told the audience about the Norwegian journey in
digital radio. The FM switch-off in Norway will take place in 2017 and
according to Torvmark’s figures, about 40 percent of households in Norway do
not yet rely on a digital receiver.
“We can’t lose listeners nor
listening time,” he said. “So we have to carefully educate people on the opportunities
they could lose by not moving to digital radio.” In 2016, communication
campaigns on the digital migration switched from “why” to “how” to obtain a
majority of cars already on the market in Norway do not feature a digital
receiver, so Digitalradio Norge produced videos to explain how to retrofit
their car radio with a digital tuner.
“We don’t have many qualified car
radio installers in Norway, so we mainly rely on the ‘do it yourself,’”
Torvmark concluded. Norwegian broadcasters have entered into a gentlemen’s
agreement to not speak “too much” about the FM switch-off, in particular to
focus on its potential rather than the alleged disadvantages.
fourth quarter of 2016 communication efforts will focus on “early warning”
messages for the forthcoming switch-off. This transition is scheduled to begin
in the Nordland region on Jan. 11, 2017 and reach its completion by the end
Institut für Rundfunktechnik recently converted the organization’s hybrid radio
code for the RasberryPI platform into an Android app. This turns “smart” home
radio receivers based on Android ecosystem into fully functional hybrid
receivers. In addition, by simply adding a USB digital tuner, these devices can
also receive DAB broadcasts. Alexander Erk, of the IRT, provided a
demonstration, highlighting how software configuration allows the control of a
number of different tuner chipsets through the same app code.
This year’s big news
came from Ronald Haanstra, International DMB Advancement Group vice president.
“We had a long battle to convince mobile manufacturers to implement DAB
receivers within their smartphones and we finally succeeded,” he said.
that the world’s first DAB+ smartphone would be introduced in Paris at
Radiodays Europe in March. The new device (a 5.7-inch mid-range smartphone with
an SDK available for building apps) will be available in Europe and Australia for
about €299 (around US$330) retail, he added.
Pasquier, senior sport producer at EBU Radio, addressed the inflation of sports
broadcast rights costs prevalent across the market. “Enormous private companies
are investing in the business of sports and as a result, public-service
televisions are losing key properties,” he said.
example, he mentioned how on Dec. 21, BBC Sport DirectorBarbara Slater announced the termination of the
broadcaster’s TV rights agreement for Formula 1, as a part of the company’s
suggested that public radio broadcasters could secure and strengthen major
sporting events coverage through creative usage of their visual radio feature.
As possible examples, Pasquier mentioned the BBC’s “Pint-sized Ashes,” an
infographic video summary of each day’s cricket matches.
seven-hours of coverage and action into a two-minute clip, the BBC team used
snippets of commentary paired with visual elements, including pictures of on-the-field
play, cartoons of a popular commentary team and Twitter comments from
ex-players and the general public, to provide a brief, funny and informative
digest of all the action.
the purpose of testing the potential of this new form of entertainment,
Euroradio produced an “augmented visual” radio feed for three major sport
events. The most recent was that of the 2015 Skiing World Championship competition
held in Vail, Colorado, and it attracted more than 3 million IP connections to
the visual radio stream from all over the world, Pasquier explained.
the EBU developed a visual CMS to ingest and rapidly publish graphically pleasing
data from Swiss Timing as well as content from social media platforms like
Twitter or Instagram. Tailor-made images were selected and pushed live using
the CMS to create a visual stream made available to broadcasters to use on both
their digital radio services and on their websites.
Project Manager Mathias Coinchon wrapped up the conference by reiterating an
important phrase — “compete on content, cooperate on technology” — as a guideline
for all radio industry professionals.
Moro reports on the industry for Radio World from Bergamo, Italy.