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Dixon: This is a Game-Changing Moment

Graham Dixon, the head of radio for the EBU, posted the text of a speech he gave on Monday at Radio Days Europe during the introduction of the LG Stylus 2, the first smartphone that includes DAB+.

PARIS�Graham Dixon, the head of radio for the EBU, posted the text of a speech he gave on Monday at Radio Days Europe during the introduction of the LG Stylus 2, the first smartphone that includes DAB+ (covered here in Digital Radio Update).

�Moving towards DAB implementation sometimes feels as challenging as constructing self-assembly furniture.�No wonder the EBU usefully last year put together a toolkit to share best practice…Like aligning the different bolts, holes and screws in IKEA furniture, making progress with DAB is about getting alignment between regulators, broadcasters, audiences, manufacturers, retailers, public and private radio and many more stakeholders.�The idea of digital radio is compelling and�as I said this morning�the universality and diversity it offers are essential to the future of radio.�Taking radio into the digital sphere is vital to achieving these objectives, but sometime getting the necessary alignment has not been easy.

��The UK figures are very accessible, so I will quote them…the popularity of listening to the radio on smart phones has increased by around 30 percent between 2013 and 2014.�Back in 2009 10 percent of respondents listened via a mobile phone, last year it was 22 percent.�There trends are surely mirrored elsewhere. EBU members believe in DAB � indeed, there are now around 75 digital-only stations broadcast by EBU members, 10 more than when I first accessed this figure some four months ago, after joining the EBU.�How frustrating to discover your perfect station on DAB while at home, only to find that it is not accessible on the move � not great for the listener, and not great for the broadcaster.�Today is a major step in ending this situation.�In all, the launch of this phone comes at a very good moment � increased mobile phone usage, and growing popularity of digital stations. Digital is on the move.

�Why do we at the EBU so strongly support this development? It is because we firmly believe in universality of provision, without gatekeepers, ensuring that everyone�s lives can be enriched by this medium, without any supplementary data charges.�You simply have to buy a radio, and it will work for many years � it is a simple compelling idea, and one which guarantees resilience of the broadcasts and information in difficult circumstances. And this service must be robust�as UNESCO succinctly stated on World Radio Day�Radio Saves Lives.�In difficult moments, it is available whereas IP can fail, or in crowded areas, simply overload.�DAB costs much less than FM to transmit.�And therefore, terrestrial radio is cost efficient for both listeners and broadcasters, facilitating the entry of other players such as community radio into the market. Being able to broadcast, direct to air, ensures that radio continues to provide that plurality of ideas and voices, and yes music, which make it a compelling medium.� �

The newly introduced smartphone was developed by LG in conjunction with The International DMB Advancement Group (IDAG), a global organization representing radio broadcasters. The handset is pre-installed with a DAB+ supporting chipset and an exclusive application, allowing users to enjoy digital radio broadcasting. Broadcasters can develop their own tailored apps for the Stylus DAB+, in which internet services complement broadcast radio, according to�

All consumers need to do to enable the digital radio feature on the Stylus is to plug in the included headset and click on the DAB+ icon that starts a scan of the local DAB+ radio stations in the area. They will then be able to select from the list of available radio stations and save their favorite stations for easy access in future.

�To my mind, having DAB in a smartphone is the beginning not the end of the story.�It is a unique opportunity to develop the medium by building new apps, new interfaces, new hybrid possibilities relying on the solid basis of radio transmission.�Radio people are also interested in internet, but this solution brings together the strengths of both distribution systems, creating a fusion which has further potential for innovation,� said Dixon.

�…I am pleased to be Head of Radio at the EBU at this important moment for radio.�This is a game-changing moment, bringing new energy to our sector.�All of us involved in the industry should seek to maximize the impact of this launch, and the new possibilities it offers.