Joan Warner, CEO Commercial Radio Australia and Chairman WorldDMB Asia Pacific Committee
Radio is maintaining its reach across the Asia Pacific region despite competition from other media and remains a much loved and used media even by the younger age groups, where the threat from mobile and internet is strongest.
This is the message Joan Warner, chief executive officer of industry body Commercial Radio Australia and Chair of the WorldDMB Asia Pacific Committee opened her presentation with at the recent Radio Asia conference in Sri Lanka, Colombo. Radio Asia was this year focused on content and Ms Warner highlighted to delegates that radio needs to continue to use its advantage of being ubiquitous and incorporate the benefits of new technology into content distribution. Using tools like social media as part of radio’s programming can help continue the conversation with listeners after an on air shift has ended and keep listeners engaged with their favourite radio personalities. Ms Warner explained that radio listeners don’t want to “pay” for data charges and drain battery life to listen to radio through streaming or an app but do want to be able to access radio through their phones. Rather, hybrid functionality and connectivity could complement broadcast radio by delivering the important one to many through DAB+ digital radio and provide further interactivity or purchase power through the internet.
Supporting a hybrid future
WorldDMB and CRA are working with the EBU and broadcasters throughout the world on the Smart Radio Initiative to develop a world-wide strategy to incorporate a DAB/DAB+/DMB chip in mobile phones that would support a hybrid radio future. One of the areas hybrid radio could be extremely effective is during an Emergency situation. At the recent Media Summit on Climate Change in Jakarta, Indonesia, CRA and WorldDMB presented an example of how effective hybrid radio could be when used in an Emergency situation. Emergency Warning Systems (EWS) are increasingly important in the Asia Pacific because of the ongoing threat of earthquake, tsunami, cyclone, floods and in Australia’s case also bush fires. Australian radio broadcasters have long been the provider of official emergency warning information and radio is often the only way some in regional and remote areas to receive important emergency updates.
The role of DAB+ in Emergency Warning Systems
WorldDMB and CRA outlined at the Summit the development of a standard of specifications for DAB+ to deliver emergency warning information and ensure EWS can be supported by digital radio receivers. This first Media Summit on Climate Change, Information and Communication Technology and Disaster Risk Reduction was organised by the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) and hosted by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology of the Republic of Indonesia. CRA explained that commercial radio stations across Australia play an integral role in local communities reaching 80% of Australians and are official emergency broadcasters and parties to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with emergency services organisations to ensure messages are accurate and timely in times of emergency. Case studies from Australia during a cyclone and flooding show how invaluable radio is in emergency situations. Not only do listeners call in with real time live information but radio is able to quickly and effectively disseminate this information. In many of these emergency situations mobile phones and the internet were not operating. The presentation at the Climate Change Summit showed how effective DAB+ slide show could be in broadcasting maps, weather warnings, traffic updates, directly from Emergency Service organisations. The demonstration also showed how if a standard emergency specification was adopted that a receiver could even switch on and provide an audible and visual emergency message. The proposal and specifications are continuing to be developed by the WorldDMB Technical Committee and will gather further interest from broadcasters, headend system manufacturers and receiver manufacturers.