2014: An exciting year ahead for the digital radio community
2014 will be an exciting year for the digital radio industry. During 2013, DAB / DAB+ digital radio made significant progress across Europe and the Asia Pacific region; whilst in the Arab states and Africa genuine interest is emerging in several markets. We can approach this year with optimism, but it is important that we maintain this momentum.
The successful launch of DAB+ in Germany in 2011 has encouraged developments in other European markets. The Netherlands launched national services in September 2013, Poland launched services in Warsaw and Katowice in October 2013 and there has been confirmation in France of services being launched in Paris, Nice and Marseille in June 2014. Italy has continued roll-out of transmitters and Sweden is due to decide on the adoption of DAB+ later this year. In emerging digital radio markets, trials are planned in several territories – not only in Europe (e.g. Austria), but also in Asia Pacific (Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia), South Africa and countries within the Arab States Broadcasting Union, such as Oman.
Good news continues to emerge from established markets. Norway, the first country to announce FM switch off, makes good progress towards achieving the criteria (required by the beginning of 2015) to ensure Digital Switchover (DSO) in 2017. In the UK, the Government has reconfirmed its commitment to a digital future for radio and, in December, announced several measures to boost uptake of DAB.
As more countries consider possible dates for DSO, WorldDMB has set up an international group to share best practice regarding market preparations. The group held its first meeting in November 2013, during our General Assembly in Amsterdam, with representatives from the UK, Norway, Switzerland, Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden. The group’s next meeting will be in Dublin during Radiodays Europe. Anyone wishing to participate in this group should contact the Project Office directly.
The two other major areas of focus this year for WorldDMB are automotive and mobile. In automotive, our aim is to increase the number of car models with digital radio as standard, in particular in mainland Europe – in addition to the UK and Australia. We will also be encouraging the further development of low cost automotive adapters for the aftermarket. In mobile, we will work with members and partners to encourage adoption of DAB / DAB+ in smart devices.
The Project Office will be at numerous events across Europe and Asia Pacific throughout 2014 and I too will be in attendance at many of these to meet WorldDMB members and industry stakeholders. I look forward to working closely with our two vice presidents, Joan Warner, CEO of Commercial Radio Australia, and Joachim Kraus, Co-ordinator of Digital Radio for ARD, Germany, and the Steering Board to provide support to the Project office and WorldDMB throughout 2014.
On a personal note, I would also like to congratulate Glyn Jones for winning the 2013 WorldDMB Award for Outstanding Service. Glyn has made huge contributions to WorldDMB during his time on the Steering Board and the WorldDMB General Assembly Committee and I would like to thank him for all his support and hard work.