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EBU: Radio Needs to Be Visible in the Connected Car

“People love the radio's simplicity and accessibility and we should never forget that”

Radio needs — and deserves — an easy-to-find, quick-to access spot on the connected car touchscreen. That was the unequivocal message delivered by Jean Philip De Tender, the European Broadcasting Union’s deputy director general, at the WorldDAB Automotive 2023 conference last week.

More than 500 delegates from 60 countries gathered at Maison de la Radio, Radio France’s home in Paris, and online for the annual conference. It was organized by WorldDAB, the global industry forum for DAB+ digital radio.

Jean Philip De Tender

The EBU represents public service radio, television, and online services in Europe. Its Connected Cars and Devices Group is focused on retaining radio’s prominence in cars and trucks, along with every other place people tune in across the continent. 

Right now this medium is coming from a position of strength.

According to De Tender, European radio “continues to reach the majority of European citizens every week. In 2021, the average weekly reach of radio in Europe was 84 percent among all citizens and 76 percent for 15 to 24-year-olds.” Europeans listened to close to two and a half hours of broadcast radio daily, with “young Europeans” listening to just under an hour and a half.

“The radio is still the most widely consumed medium worldwide and the strongest growing demographic for spoken word audio is to the target group, 13 to 24-year-olds,” he said.

In a bid to retain European radio’s in-car prominence, the Connected Cars and Devices Group has created the EBU’s Connected Cars Principles, “which are guide rails for our work and for our conversations with the industry,” said De Tender. There are four Connected Cars Principles in all. 

Here they are. “Firstly, radio must always be easy to use. It should start with a single touch or a voice command,” De Tender said. “People love the radio’s simplicity and accessibility and we should never forget that.”

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Second, radio’s location on the connected car touchscreen shouldn’t just be “simple to find: It should be impossible to miss,” said De Tender. “Just like the old physical radio button, access to radio — whether it’s AM, FM, DAB, or over the internet — should be immediately obvious. Drivers don’t want to go searching for it.”

“Thirdly, in-car radio should be focused and personalized,” he told the WorldDAB audience. “Radio has long been a trusted source of new and loved content, and connected cars have the power to make even more personalized and smart suggestions. But we need to be conspicuously transparent to our listeners about the data we collect and how we use it. This comes back to the question of public trust — our greatest responsibility and something we must do with the power we have.”

Finally, radio within the connected car must be presented to listeners as a complete package, rather than being fragmented by format. “Listeners should find public, private, local, national, and international broadcasters in one place, whatever the size or profile of the broadcaster,” said De Tender. 

“To wrap up, the EBU’s radio position is clear and the data tells us it’s the right one for consumers,” he concluded. “Broadcast radio is innovative, trusted and necessary in cars. It must be easy to use, impossible to miss, focused and personalized and packaged in one place.”

This is Part 4 in a four-part series on on the 2023 WorldDAB Automotive conference. Read Part 1 here.