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Poland to Expand Local DAB+ Services

Will add digital multiplexes for small, regional broadcasters in more than 30 urban areas

Polish radio conference “Perspektywy rozwoju radiofonii lokalnej i regionalnej DAB+” (“Perspectives for the Development of Local and Regional DAB+ Radio”), held May 28, brought together representatives from the National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) and broadcasters to discuss the country’s development of local and regional DAB+ services.

During the event, KRRiT Chairman, Witold Kołodziejski explained that the organization was looking at the implementation of DAB+ technology in order to compensate for the country’s lack of available analog frequencies. He said the council had already applied to the Office of Electronic Communications (UKE) for the allocation in the second half of the year of 47 new DAB+ frequencies in 34 cities, including Warsaw, Gdańsk, Kraków, Poznań and Szczecin.

“This year, we are planning to launch digital radio multiplexes for commercial and smaller broadcasters, i.e. for all those who would like to appear on digital airwaves, apart from public broadcasters. We will introduce the technology in more than 30 large urban areas, each with 12 radio programs from next year,” Kołodziejski said.

“The UKE is doing everything it can to find frequencies where coverage needs to be supplemented, but the resources are today depleted,” he said. “However, this does not mean that the possibility of developing radio is over.”

Kołodziejski pointed out that KRRiT and UKE wanted to weigh the interest of broadcasters in using DAB+ and that he wants to ensure fair access to all stations, not just the larger ones.

He said this digitization process would facilitate the draft regulation, which the Ministry of Digitization is working on later this year. He also said they were aware of the cost implications (equipment and license) for smaller broadcasters and were trying to find solutions (such as spreading out payments) to ease the initial investment. “The cost of broadcasting is one of the major barriers for local radio stations, and this is due to a number of factors. Digital broadcasting offers an opportunity to reduce these costs,” he said

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In May, a working group composed of KRRiT and UKE staff was established to study the possibility of an eventual analog radio switchoff. The group is at present working toward amending the regulation on concession fees, simplifying the application process and determining the announcement and frequency reservation procedure.

Poland’s public broadcaster, Polskie Radio launched DAB+ in Warsaw and Katowice in October 2013.