U.K. Radio Festival Covers Digital, More - Radio World

U.K. Radio Festival Covers Digital, More

Fifty-eight percent of new cars in the United Kingdom now have digital as standard
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Nick Piggott, chair of RadioDNS, speaks about smartphone apps.

SALFORD, England — This year’s Radio Festival, which is organized by the Radio Academy and took place in October, brought more good news for digital.

In a keynote speech, United Kingdom Culture Minister Ed Vaizey announced that almost 250,000 cars were registered in September 2014 with digital radio as standard, up nearly 50 percent on the previous September. He also confirmed that BBC coverage for its national stations on DAB digital radio was now 95 percent, and that this program of work would be completed before the end of 2015.

Vaizey praised the development of a new generation of “hybrid” radio, following extensive research that shows most smartphone users want broadcast radio in their devices.

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Peter Davies, director of Content
Policy for Ofcom, announces
more DAB+ trials.

The BBC is working with a coalition of global broadcasters, which includes U.K. commercial radio, the European Broadcasting Union, iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel), iBiquity, Emmis Interactive, NAB and Commercial Radio Australia,to research and develop hybrid radio — a combination of Internet and broadcast (DAB or FM) radio — for use in mobile phones.

The minister said, “I very much welcome the Universal Smartphone Radio Project and hope the BBC builds on the good work so far by continuing to support this important project.”

At the annual TechCon event, which runs alongside the Radio Festival, Peter Davies from U.K. communications regulator Ofcom proposed a further trial of small-scale DAB+ broadcasting. Davies announced a speedy consultation on the idea, and called on commercial and community stations to work together to launch a number of short-term trial sites expected to be on-air in the second half of next year.

Absolute Radio and RCS won the annual TechCon Technical Excellence Award sponsored by Arqiva, for their work on “Project Banana” [Radio World International, August 2014], which gives listeners of Absolute Radio the ability to choose between seven different music playlists for the same breakfast show.

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Ben Hart, left, of Arqiva presents the TechCon Technical Excellence Award to Robbie Harrison, Absolute Radio and Jon Earley, RCS.

“The winning entry was unanimously chosen by the judges as the trail blazing winner,” said the judges. “It combines both technical innovation and flawless execution. It has dramatically enhanced the listener’s experience and addresses both commercial and creative angles.”

The festival also saw Dave Walters, the BBC’s technology controller for Network Radio, awarded a Fellowship of the Radio Academy — the highest honor it can confer upon a member, recognizing outstanding contributions to the industry.

Will Jackson reports on the industry from London.

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