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Automotive IT Magazine Delves Into the Future of Radio

The auto industry is still giving radio its proper due

HANOVER, Germany�Often times it�s interesting and illustrative to see how the radio industry is portrayed by other industries or trades that are closely related. The automobile industry is clearly one that is of great importance to radio. The feeling appears to be mutual.� Let�s take a look at recent article published in Automotive IT.

Regarding proposed sunsets of FM around Europe: �Such a switch-off has already been decided in Norway, which will end FM transmissions in 2017. Switzerland is holding a referendum on digital radio this month and other European countries are also looking at the future of FM.

�The end of FM spells problems for drivers whose cars cannot receive digital radio. In Norway, from 2017, these drivers will hear only silence. �That�s more than merely an inconvenience. �Many safety warning services are expected to move to digital radio in coming years. �Without the ability to receive DAB+,the international digital radio standard, a driver won�t hear the alerts.�

The underlining is mine, by the way; while DAB/DAB+ is in common use around the world, it�s not aninternational standard.� More importantly though, the ability to disseminate emergency information to radio listeners, via an over-the-air broadcast, still remains an important communications function.�

WorldDMB last month organized a conference in Brussels to highlight automotive opportunities offered by digital radio. The event was attended by officials from car manufacturers, governments and broadcasting companies. Speakers focused on what still needs to be done to get increased auto-industry support for digital radio.

�Harmonization was a big issue at the Brussels conference. Widely varying rates of digital-radio penetration across the European Union�s 28 member countries are illustrative of the problems facing the broadcast industry. Whereas in Norway, 53 percent of households own a digital radio set and the percentage is 49 in the UK, Italy and Germany stand at 1 percent and 8 percent, respectively.�

�There was consensus that, whatever forms of radio are in the car, channels should be accessible through one common interface. �In-car digital radio interfaces should feel like they�re keeping pace with Apple and Android� said Hans Christian Andersen, CEO of Norwegian digital radio distributor Sahaga. Michael Hill, managing director of non-profit connected-radio developer Radioplayer, unveiled a common HMI that also has the ability to automatically switch from DAB+ to streaming to FM, depending on which standard offers the best signal quality. �The system doesn�t ask,� he said, �it just does it.�

As one who has made his entire career in broadcasting, I�m very glad to see that the automotive industry is still giving radio its proper due. I contend that Europe is 5 years ahead of us in broadcast technology and its adoption; therefore, I think the continued success of broadcasting there bodes well for the U.S.��