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In France, Ideas to Boost Digital Radio

The R+ project would cover an estimated 44 million people

With the development of digital radio lagging in France, certain players are coming up with other ideas to overcome present challenges.

According to Les Echos, some key industry professionals would like to revive digital radio in another form. Pierre Bellanger, founder of Skyrock and Sylvain Anichini, former head of Radio France, have both long advocated for the implementation of IP broadcast — listening to radio through the use of Internet Protocol with traditional transmitters transmitting IP data to receivers, such as portable telephones.

This technology, which can be implemented on band III, the band tentatively scheduled for digital terrestrial radio in France, or more conveniently says Bellanger and Anichini, on a small portion of the 700 MHz band, makes better use of spectrum by limiting the size of telecommunication networks and lowering costs.

Philippe Levrier, former Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel member, who is also interested in encouraging DAB in France, has another idea. He suggests considering digital radio as a supplement to FM and not as a substitute.

His project, dubbed R+, consists of the distribution of a free mobile radio service available on major highways and in large cities. R+, which would cover approximately 44 million people, requires two multiplexes to begin broadcasting on band III, and an initial investment of €35 million. The CSA will review Levrier’s draft later this month, said Les Echos.

These proposals are emerging as terrestrial digital radio initiatives in the country have dithered. In January, the CSA issued permits to radio stations in Paris, Marseille and Lyon, and they should start transmitting before the end of the year.

However, Olivier Schrameck, the new president of CSA, who inherited the decision, is apparently awaiting publication of the decree on the adoption of a new standard (DAB+) to get a clearer idea as to how to move forward and possibly launch a new call for applications. The Minister of Culture, Aurélie Filippetti has reportedly said she would look into radio developments in the fall.