2013 was a year of successes and significant change as the DAB/ DAB+ digital radio footprint grew across Europe, Asia Pacific and the Arab States. The 2013 General Assembly reflected this and saw its largest attendance with a higher turn-out of delegates than in previous years. The event was opened by outgoing WorldDMB President Jørn Jensen who said that the last four years of his presidency saw the DAB family of standards reach a level of international roll out that was beyond a point of no return. More markets had adopted the standard, sales of devices were growing and the importance of bringing digital radio into the car and mobile handsets had been widely acknowledged as the next step to ensure the continued success of the standard globally.
Delegates heard updates from established as well as emerging digital radio markets. The event was hosted in the Netherlands and a large number of Dutch industry stakeholders were in attendance also. A proportion of the second day was given over to highlighting the significant steps taken to bring digital radio to the Dutch population. Keynote speaker at the event, Mark Dierikx, Director-General for Energy, Telecommunications and Competition from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs announced that the Dutch policy on digital radio includes switching off analogue radio, with a switch-off date of no later than 2023, providing certain criteria are fulfilled.
The conference also saw new market data released where GFK’s Barabra Schouten which highlighted the momentum currently being seen in the consumer market with positive sales figures being seen for digital radio receivers across Europe. A recurring theme at this year’s event was the topic of Digital Switch Over (DSO), as more countries are making announcements and planning for a DSO. Speakers from Australia, Norway, Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland took part in a round table.
There was a session on the issue of retail and marketing of digital radio with insight given from organistions and manufactures that actively promote digital radio, such as Joan Warner from Commercial Radio Australia, Peter Blampied from Pure, Jane Ostler of and Digital Radio UK. Automotive, a topic of interest and a continued area of focus by all digital radio stakeholders, was covered in the afternoon session on day two of the conference with Mark Friend of the BBC, Thomas Kusche of Westdeutcher Rundfunk (WDR), Eugenio La Teana from ClubDAB/ EuroDAB Italy and Jan Linssen from ARS T&T, The Netherlands providing an update on the work to bring digital radio in car, consumer marketing and the roll out of DAB digital radio as a means for traffic management and data delivery.
Overall, the conference confirmed the continued confidence and enthusiasm among digital radio proponents for DAB/ DAB+ digital radio. The success and take up of digital radio across Europe, Asia Pacific and the Arab States and Africa demonstrates that DAB+ is the future of digital radio and remains the proven standard for all types of markets and consumer requirements.