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France’s CSA Outlines DAB Plans at WorldDAB General Assembly

Event sees Patrick Hannon re-elected as president, Joan Warner and Jacqueline Bierhorst elected as vice-presidents

Nicolas Curien, board member in charge of radio at French regulator Le Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel, addresses delegates at the WorldDAB General Assembly in Paris. WorldDAB welcomed approximately 200 delegates to its 2017 General Assembly, which opened Nov. 7 in Paris.

Highlights from the first day included a presentation from Nicolas Curien, board member in charge of radio at Le Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel. Addressing participants, Curien outlined steps the French regulator is taking to encourage the rollout of DAB+ in new cities and highways across the country.

He said licences in Lyon and Strasbourg would be issued by the end of November 2017, while DAB+ services in the Hauts de France region would begin in March or April next year. As regards local and regional deployment, the CSA plans for two successive calls, each covering 15 large, densely populated areas. The first is scheduled for the first half of 2018 and the second for the first half of 2019.

In addition, he said, the CSA is also investigating the possibility of a call for applications in 2018 for two national multiplexes, for which spectrum has already been set aside.

“I have two pieces of good news: the first is that the responses to the CSA’s public consultation have been numerous and extremely encouraging,” said Curien. “The second is that there is no bad news: DAB+ technology will finally be able to take off significantly in mainland France by the end of 2020. The plan that I like to call ‘nodes and arcs’ is on the way to becoming reality.”

The event also provided information on DAB progress in Norway (which completes the switch-off of its FM services next month) and Europe, as well as the trials taking place in Africa and the Middle East.

“DAB is well established as the core future platform for radio in Europe and beyond. Templates for success are firmly established and the FM switch-off in Norway sends a clear signal of what can be achieved,” Patrick Hannon, President, WorldDAB. “The developments we are seeing in France are equally encouraging and will provide a significant boost to the adoption of DAB+ internationally.”

Also during the gathering, WorldDAB took the opportunity to once again call for European legislation that would require all new radio receivers to incorporate both analog and digital capability. This, said the organization, addresses a key concern of broadcasters over the speed at which they can build a digital audience, currently restricted by the sale of FM-only radios.

Finally, WorldDAB members elected a new steering board, while Patrick Hannon was re-elected as president for a further two years. Joan Warner from Commercial Radio Australia and Jacqueline Bierhorst from Digital Radio Netherlands were elected as vice-presidents.