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IBC — Looking at Digital Radio Options

Cooperation between formats, broadcasters and Internet sought

AMSTERDAM — IBC2013 has focused on the future of radio throughout the show. The session entitled “Internet Radio: Threat or Accelerator to DAB Digital Radio,” and organized by the WorldDMB Forum, offered a glimpse into where broadcast radio and the Internet are going. Held Monday Sept. 16, at 11:30 a.m., the free workshop drew a hefty crowd.

During the presentation, EBU Media Director Annika Nyberg took a look at where DAB/DAB+ is situated among the various delivery methods. She explained that the EBU believes the future of radio is digital and hybrid, reminding the audience that the organization launched the Euro-Chip, which integrates radio standards, such as digital DAB/DAB+/DMB and FM, into one universal radio receiver to overcome incompatibilities.

Ford Ennals of Digital Radio UK informed participants about how the United Kingdom is approaching digital, pointing out that today in the U.K. some 37% of listening is across digital platforms and within that 70% is DAB listening. He also said that in-home digital has now overtaken FM in the country and that the U.K. government is expected to make a statement in the coming months about the timing of digital adoption in the country.

Radio “futurologist” and Managing Director of Media UK, James Cridland, indicated that it isn’t about one platform or another. He explained that evidence shows the audience listening to broadcast and said that broadcasters need to use the Internet to grow existing business by cleverly using the different platforms to expand reach and offer personalized services.

“Internet should be used to make the broadcast experience better,” he said. “It is not Internet versus broadcast. It is Internet and broadcast.”

All speakers agreed that they need to work together to make the user experience better and that it is mandatory to provide quality, distinctive content and also on the importance of getting radio into smartphones. “Broadcast needs to be in the phone,” said Ennals, “and it has to happen this year.”

Panel members also offered advice to broadcasters from the Netherlands, who have just begun the rollout of DAB+, saying that those involved need to give a real reason for listeners to tune into digital and to inform the audience about the additional choices. Representatives from the Netherlands said that they expect to have 100% coverage outdoors by Jan. 2014, and that the Dutch government is making a real effort to fund DAB+.

Back on the show floor, the Telos Alliance announced that it named Sound4 as a contributing organization. The French company’s processing offerings will be marketed under the Omnia brand, with the acknowledgement “powered by Sound4.”

Harris introduced a new range of DAB transmitters, Maxiva VAX.

Jünger Audio revealed a new product direction, creating solution-based packages for its product range — one, the company says, that is designed to make it much easier for customers to identify the processing solution they are looking for.

There were many other novelties, which we will be highlighting in the form of new product and news announcements over the coming days.

As of Monday evening — a day before the close of this year’s show, IBC2013 had welcomed some 50,569 attendees. The 2012 event attracted a total of 50,937 professionals from more than 160 countries.