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WorldDAB GA Focuses on Digital Strategy

VIENNA — At the WorldDAB General Assembly, held on Nov. 9–10, delegates heard from Ministers across Europe on the future of DAB. They were joined by regulators, broadcasters and manufacturers.

Patrick Hannon, WorldDAB president opened the event by highlighting the progress of DAB adoption and how 56 percent of European citizens can now receive DAB services.

In Thursday’s keynote session, speakers addressed an international audience of more than 200 delegates on the future of digital radio and the need for collaboration.

With a theme of “New content. New markets,” the gathering focused on the new audiences and revenue opportunities being delivered by digital radio. Speakers included Absolute Radio in the United Kingdom, that has doubled its audiences via digital radio, newly created Dutch radio group Newco, and Wireless Group (recently acquired by News Corp), both of which have DAB+ firmly at the core of their digital strategy. Also presenting was local radio station Angel Radio, which was able to join the migration to digital in the U.K. thanks to small-scale DAB.

Line Langnes, senior legal adviser and project manager, Norwegian Media Authority talked about progress on the world’s first digital switchover. “The digitization of radio enables broadcasters to offer more content, and recent surveys shows that digital radio listening in Norway are increasing in terms of both reach and share. Our focus is to ensure that the public is well informed about the switchover and what they need to do, particularly for drivers who are still to adapt their cars,” she said.

Viliam Podhorsky, from the Ministry of Transport, Construction and Regional Development (MDVRR SR), Slovakia, announced that the government has just signed off on its proposed plan to DAB rollout. “The transition from analogue to digital broadcasting represents a significant technological change and working closely with other countries will be crucial to its success. An important part of the process of deployment in Slovakia will be drawing up an effective legal framework to include incentives for broadcasters, ensuring coverage is comparable to analog, delivering content with added value and the commitment of all parties to participate in this process.”

Patrice Gélinet, board member of the Council at French regulator Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel (CSA), talked about the growth of DAB in France and plans for extending coverage to new cities. “Additional calls for applications will take place in the months and years ahead, meaning that by 2023, the entire French population will be able to receive DAB. DAB success factors among our neighbors demonstrate the appetite of the industry and of the listeners for digital radio broadcasting. Beyond the known benefits of technology, the diversity, plurality and commitment of stakeholders of the radio ecosystem demonstrate that DAB is an integral part of the future of radio in Europe and therefore in France.”

The final speaker in the morning session was Andreas Geiss, Head of Unit — Radio Spectrum Policy, DG Connect, at the European Commission. He stated: “We are interested in the modernization of radio transmission networks and we are happy to see that the market for DAB+, as well as for Internet radio, is developing. We have already endorsed DAB through inclusion in our list of standards that Member States should encourage for use. Intervention at EU level must respect the principle of subsidiarity and show added value. In whatever we do we should ensure that the consumer is able to choose in terms of service and price. We encourage broadcasting, car and telecom industries to collaborate.”

Other sessions featured updates from developed markets on the path towards digital switchover, emerging markets on DAB progress to date and industry analysts on automotive adoption and receiver sales around the world.

Also at the event, the WorldDAB award for Outstanding Service was presented to Reiner Müller of the Bavarian media regulatory body, BLM, in recognition of his enthusiasm and tireless work on encouraging the collaboration required for the deployment of DAB in Germany.