Over 200 radio industry representatives came together on 16 July 2013 at the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) facility in Johannesburg to attend a landmark workshop on the rollout of DAB+ digital radio and to discuss plans for a high-powered DAB+ trial transmission extending from Pretoria to Johannesburg by end 2013.
Delegates included representatives from the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), the Government Department of Communications, public and commercial broadcasters, policy makers, network operator Sentech, device and automotive manufacturers. The composition of the audience reflected one of the key themes of the workshop, that collaboration across the radio ecosystem is key to the successful rollout of DAB+. The event was endorsed by NAB, the Southern African Digital Broadcasting Association (SADIBA) and SABC. Harris Broadcast provided an on-air demonstration of DAB+ at the workshop.
Jørn Jensen, President of WorldDMB said: “Key benefits for listeners of digital radio are superior sound quality and greater choice. The opportunity to provide more services, especially in areas where FM capacity has reached its limits, is a key consumer benefit. In South Africa, there is scope to provide new services in each of the eleven official languages.” Lynn Mansfield, Chairperson of South Africa’s National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Technical Committee, welcomed delegates saying: “DAB+ opens up new opportunities for South Africa’s broadcasters to enhance content, develop portfolios of services based on existing brands and to explore new revenue streams.”
ICASA indicated that it stands ready to support broadcasting innovation in South Africa, which will be the first country to exploit opportunities for delivery of educational services via DAB+, as well as services for those with disabilities. Broadcasting radio via DAB+ will also allow ICASA to license new entrants where FM bandwidth is congested.
The workshop provided strong evidence that interest in digital radio is now extending into the continent of Africa. Following the successful launch of DAB+ in Germany in 2011, a digital radio wave is sweeping across Europe. Similar interest is being shown in Asia Pacific where Australia is leading the way