On 13th March, MCDT and Dgital Radio Deutschland hosted an automotive workshop in Zürich where experts shared their experiences and knowledge of digital radio broadcasting within the automotive industry. The event was opened by the head of Digital Radio Deutschland, Michael Reichert and CEO of MCDT, Beatrice Merlach and was attended by over 100 participants from the local broadcasting and automotive industries including Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes Benz, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Suzuki, Toyota and Volkswagen.
The first speaker at the event was Nancy Wayland Bigler, BAKOM (Swiss regulator) who outlined the plans for the development of digital radio in Switzerland including the increase in road coverage, increase in services and the digital switch-over scenario, for which a roadmap has to be outlined by end of 2017. Second speaker, Dr Willi Steul, Deutschland gave an update on the progress of digital radio development from the national public DAB+ broadcasters in Germany. He noted that the KEF has asked the ARD and Dradio to give a clear roadmap for the future development of digital radio in Germany. Dr Steul showed that mobile coverage of Germany is now at 91% of the population and coverage is 209,380km of Autobahns or 75%. And, in the south of Germany there are areas which now receive more than 44 programmes on DAB+. For those in the audience who were not familiar with digital radio, Marco Derighetti of SRG SSR followed Dr Steul with a explanatory introduction to DAB+ radio broadcasting and how it is the radio technology of the future and benefits it offers the driver.
Via a video message, Dr Kay Lindemann, VDA (German Automotive Association) confirmed the Germany Automotive Associations support for digital radio with take rates in Germany for DAB+ currently at 10%. This view was echoed by Andreas Burgener (Auto-Schweiz) in his presentation on the relevance of Switzerland to the automotive industry due to the composition of the country and the number of drivers on the road.
Peter Blum, Audi, presented the benefits of combined DAB+ and IP to provide the best service to drivers. He showed the increase in the number of Audi models with DAB+ from 2005 to 2012 including A8, Q7, A6, A4, A5, Q5, A1, A7, Q3 and A3. In his opinion, broadcasters need to do more to support and promote the roll out of digital radio in Germany. IP is an essential part of the broadcast content working alongside DAB+ and Audi fels that TPEG via DAB+ has come too late, so they delivery their traffic and travel services via the Internet, though there could be potential for change in the future. Audi emphasised that Content is King and broadcasters should not simply copy the IP world and engage consumers in a different way.
Coverage is of fundamental importance to the driver. He called for a strong business case for digital radio, citing the complaints on coverage what Audi receive, despite this not being the job of the car industry. In Audi models, digital radio are around 350EUR and drivers are willing to pay for a DAB product or service if they get their money’s worth. He concluded that Audi would need to see a EU wide roadmap on digital radio.
Peters presentation was followed by a talk by Ralph Peter Schaefer at TomTom who opened his talk with the announcement that they were partnering with Media Mobile in Europe and Clear Channel in the US to bring TPEG services via DAB+
BMW gave the participants an overview of their Connected Drive services and, Christoph Ernst, BMW confirmed in the question and answer session that DAB is in all models of BMW on sale in Switzerland.
A strong session followed from commercial broadcasters RRR and Energy who both demonstrated their commitment to digital radio in Switzerland. Both broadcasters clearly stated their future plans for digital radio. Energy ended their presentation with the statement ‘Radio ist der beste Kanal fur die Autoindustrie’. The organisation for commercial broadcasters in Switzerland also spoke on the need for business cases for digital radio.
Further presentations came from Thomas Saner, ( SRG SSR,) who presented the work the Swiss public broadcasters have undertaken to ensure tunnels in Switzerland are covered especially for emergency announcements and Chris Weck (Dradio) who highlighted the good quality of the DAB+ network in Germany based on receiver tests which were performed in the recent past.
The event ended as a success once again bringing the digital radio industry and the automotive industry together. It was agreed that digital radio is the future of radio in cars.