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Austria’s Radio Broadcasters Have Different Outlook on DAB

AUSTRIA�In the pages of Digital Radio Update we have occasionally discussed the progress of DAB+ radio in Austria.� DAB+ testing continues in Vienna, for example, so some amount of forward progress is being made.�

I was recently afforded the opportunity to ask some questions of a person in-the-know: Gabriele Sch�ngruber, of the FEEI (Austria�s Association for the Electrical and Electronics Industries).� In particular I was interested in the dichotomy of interest in DAB, when considering public and private broadcasters there. ��

DI:The testing and transmission of DAB+ in Austria is a fairly new development, while it has been going on in Germany and Switzerland for some time (more than five years).� Why has Austria started later?

Gabriele Sch�ngruber: In many areas Austria orients itself to the bigger market of Germany, and this is also true with the introduction of digital radio.� In particular the market for radio equipment and technical developments are the leading way for Austria.� Concerning an important field of use of DAB+ – the automotive industry � it is essential how technologies develop in Germany, because they then roll out on the much smaller market Austria.

DI: It�s my understanding that ORF (The publicly funded state broadcaster) is not very interested in digital radio.� In the United States, public radio stations are generally the most active advocates of digital radio.� What is different about ORF?

GS: Austria�s radio market has been at a standstill for many years. 20 years after the beginning of dual broadcasting the market situation remains monopolistic.� ORF has a 73 percent market share.� The established dominating broadcasters, who have sufficient transmission capacity via FM frequencies, have no economic reasons to switch to a modern, cost-effective platform.

In contrast there are broadcasters who are not sufficiently represented on VHF and who are missing an alternative means of broadcasting their programs, such as DAB+, or via national DAB+ networks. (Currently there are three public service broadcasters and a commercial station available throughout Austria).

DI:I have read that there are two types of private broadcasters in Austria: those that are non-commercial, and those that are commercial.� How is the mission of private, non-commercial broadcasting there different from that of ORF?

GS: The broadcasting system in Austria is based on three pillars: public service broadcasting (financing through fees and advertising revenue), private-non-commercial (“free radios”, not profit-oriented, no advertising in the program, open access to the general design of programs of their program) and privately-commercially (funding through advertising revenue). The three pillars have different legal bases.

DI:I recently I read that �non-commercial private radio broadcasters are not interested in DAB radio.� VFRO says that DAB+ technology is �moribund� and obsolete as well as being �economically completely nonsensical.”� To me this seems completely non-intuitive.� Why do you think these broadcasters are so against what seems like the logical technical progression?

GS: Many non-commercial radio stations have small transmitters that have a reduced geographic reach. These radio stations will have higher cost if switching to DAB+ (though a larger reach). Nevertheless free radio stations are showing interest in DAB+ concerning nationwide broadcasting.

Keep reading Digital Radio Update for news of digital broadcasting around North America and the World.��