German website medienpolitik.net recently interviewed Gerd Bauer, director of the State Media Authority Saarland.
Bauer was asked various questions about the DAB+ standard’s progress, and he expressed confidence that things were moving in a positive direction. Currently, 75 percent of the German population has been reached by the existing multiplexes, and 90 transmitter stations are planned to be in use by 2016.
In response to questions about a second national multiplex, he said the frequencies were not yet available, but he would welcome it, in addition to other expansions of digital services.
He emphasized the importance of the EBU’s Smart Radio (Euro-Chip) initiative and the establishment of a second national multiplex. Bauer also noted that reports from September 2013 indicated that digital radio was making gains in the mass market even at that stage and is growing more popular with time. About 3 million digital radios are expected to be purchased this year, he said.
He also noted the importance of various marketing campaigns, in addition to the increasing availability of receivers and variety of programming. Bauer cited numbers from the Verband der Automobileindustrie (VDA), the German Association of the Automotive Industry, indicating an increase in customer demand for digital radio in the car and said 10 percent of all new cars in Germany come with DAB+.
Additionally, automaker Blaupunkt will resume making vehicles with digital radio receivers, following an eight-ear hiatus. The company had originally pioneered the DAB standard, but was cautious after it proved unpopular. As DAB+ proliferates, the company has again begun making car radios that support the digital standard, and it is seen as expression of confidence in the medium’s future.
Regarding phasing out FM radio, Bauer said that the timeline was a decision to be made by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure after relevant reports were studied. Bauer also noted that he does not foresee online radio as a potential replacement for FM radio, but rather as a supplement to other broadcasting forms.