Report on WorldDMB Industry Insight Session, IBC 2014


A secure future for in-car digital broadcast radio – How to keep your content prominent and relevant in the digital dashboard

This year’s WorldDMB session during IBC 2014 at the Amsterdam Rai on 15th September proved popular with over 130 attendees joining guest speakers representing WorldDMB, AutomotiveIT, Digitial Radio +, The Netherlands, TISA, Digital Radio UK and Radioplayer to discuss digital radio in-car.  Missed the session?  Here is a summary of what you missed.

‘Radio is changing in particular within the eco-system of the automotive sector’ Patrick Hannon

WorldDMB President, Patrick Hannon opened with an introduction to the current situation of radio in-car. Drivers and passengers continue to love radio in the car, however radio must position itself in the digital dashboard. Digital radio remains a free to air service, with improved sound quality and choice of content for drivers.


There is a continued roll out of digital radio in Europe and worldwide with  Norway being the first country to set a date for analogue switch off. “The technology is ready, coverage is well established in main markets in Europe such as Germany, Italy & the UK. Consumers need to understand what digital radio is and what it offers”. He concluded  by saying “Broadcasters need to engage with car manufactures to shape future of radio in car”.

“Digital radio needs to be high up on the priority list, radio and the car goes together”  Arjen Bongard

Arjen Bongard, Editor, AutoIT gave an overview of how radio is perceived within today’s automotive industry.Hot topics for the auto industry include; connected vehicles, car sharing, digital retail, industry 4.0 staying competitive in the market, autonomous driving.

“OEMs are traditional players who really like engines. Change is not easy there are no software or hardware people on the Boards of these companies to my knowledge”. He noted that OEMs are changing by partnering with new players not traditionally associated with automotive. Infotainment is becoming ever more important to Generation X and the auto industry is looking at identifying new USPs. The battle for consumers is inside the car, they want to offer 24th century entertainment even in cheaper cars.

“Car makers are not selling radio” radio competes with apps for the driver’s attention. There will be increasingly more apps, addressing drivers who are used to choosing their own content. “Few people give radio thought in the car.  It’s there and has always been there, radio in the car is a commodity which is on a level with windscreen wipers”. In his research he found car makers feel internet radio will take over and will be the default, although it is not currently seen as user friendly.

Arjen called for broadcasters to do more to promote digital radio in-car. The lack of visibility of radio in the automotive industry is a problem; broadcasters need to do more with infotainment teams, automakers and dealers.

“…a car without a radio is almost unsaleable”   Ford Ennals

Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, followed Arjen to  give an example of where continued work at all levels with the car industry is making a difference to digital radio take up in cars in the UK. The SMMT (UK automotive association) are on the Board of DRUK and make decisions alongside the digital radio industry.


Sales of cars fitted with DAB as standard in the UK

“Today is about the car, 62% of listening is in-car. Only 10% of cars have digital radio, so there are 30 million cars on the road that don’t have a digital radio.”  Digital radio is radio, better radio with better sound, choice and future ready; 20 million digital radios have been sold in the UK alone.  Ford highlights this year in the UK “We have gone from 0% of new cars to 55% of new cars having digital radio in 4 years” which is impressive in terms of take up and shows the car industry in the UK is now moving totally to digital. It is also expected that during the new registration period in September there will be 30 manufacturers in the UK with digital radio as standard and there will be 250, 000 new cars sold with digital radio.

Kia announced as the 5th largest manufacturer adding digital radio as standard in the UK

Continued success and announcements have been the result of hard work on all sides including a commitment from the UK government, a clear plan for coverage and a digital tick mark which has been rolled out this summer which sets a minimum standard for digital radio in cars.

DRUK carried out an audit of 10 manufacturers in the UK who account for 80% of sales. This audit looked at where radio sits within each of their dashboards. The audit found was that all manufacturers audited still contain broadcast radio, a radio button or at least a music button. However, ease of use differed greatly depending on models.  He finished with a call to action: ”Broadcasters must engage as a group with automotive manufacturers. Set some common standards at a regional level across broadcasters. Improve the way radio delivered in car…more intuitive and simpler, harness broadcast and IP!”

“Let’s get everyone involved, lets inspire everyone, lets include everyone. Radio is a perfect musical call to action, radio doesn’t change it’s only getting better, let’s work first with the DJs ‘Let’s get digital.”  Jacqueline Bierhorst

Jacqueline Bierhorst from the Digital Radio + The Netherlands gave an update from a market just starting its digital roll out. Commercial and public broadcasters in the Netherlands have been working together to develop a united market and jointly developed communications plans including financing.

Within the original licenses there was an obligation to have a 40% coverage in the first stage of roll out. However the industry chose to roll out to 100% of Netherlands –  the reasoning being that it was better to promote digital radio to the whole country than to small regions.

A clear communication plan was developed for listeners, retails, the automotive sector, media agencies, radio station employees and other stakeholders. The goal was to educate each group at a particular time and to have a strong cross media concept. 4.5 million Euro has been spent on promoting digital radio in the Netherlands. In May last year the industry saw a growth from 22% to 30% awareness of digital radio, 67% people said they would purchase a digital radio and 20,000 devices have now been sold. On the automotive side there are 8 million cars on the road in the Netherlands, 400,000 new cars are sold per year and 19% of total radio listening time is spent in cars. In the Netherlands DAB is sold as an option in Skoda, SEAT, Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes.

“Let’s get everyone involved, lets inspire everyone, lets include everyone."

“Let’s get everyone involved, lets inspire everyone, lets include everyone.”

The Dutch digital radio industry is working with RAI on the automotive show next year, specifically targeting consumers and importers in the Netherlands. The BNR (automotive dealerships association) have already held a workshop with 200 automotive retailers workshop. Pioneer are also working hard to educate drivers on digital radio. Jacqueline ended her presentation with the statement “Radio is the world’s most popular medium and it should stay in car”

“Digital Radio offers the most reliable and cost effective distribution channel and to wait means to jeopardize both people and the success of digital radio in cars”  Thomas Kusche

Thomas Kusche, President of TISA gave an overview of the continued development of TPEG for traffic and travel information. He noted that TPEG offers a huge opportunity to bring DAB/DAB+ into cars as traffic information always been a huge part of the radio experience in cars. One of the major areas where TPEG benefits drivers is through improving safety, an issue for all OEMs. There is now a navigation system on the market which includes TPEG on DAB and looking to the future more devices will be launched offering this feature.

In Germany there are 42 million cars which currently do not have DAB+ and could potentially be refit with these types of devices. TPEG offers excellent safety relevant Traffic and DAB+ audio can motivate drivers to buy these types of devices. TK-IBC-2014-p11

Germany is one of the countries pushing hard to implement TPEG via DAB+ in order to fulfil the European ITS directive. TPEG is also broadcast in other countries such as Australia, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, UK and USA. Thomas wrapped up his presentation by concluding  “Digital Radio offers the most reliable and cost effective distribution channel and to wait means to jeopardize both people and the success of digital radio in cars”.

UK Radioplayer have developed a prototype solution which creates a totally hybrid radio experience

Michael Hill, Managing Director of Radioplayer closed the session by presenting the current work carried out by  Radioplayer to provide a simple in-car solution. Radioplayer since its release has helped grow online listening and in the UK, there has been a 40% growth of online listening. Currently Norway & Belgium have licensed the technology and Germany have recently announced that will also be adopting this platform However, the majority of listening is done on radio in cars.

Radioplayer app prototype

Radioplayer app prototype

With the release of Apple car play into Volvo earlier this year, it poses the question where does radio fit into apple car play? The problem of integrating broadcast radio into cars is much harder than putting Spotify and TuneIn in the dash-board. Apple hides the complexity in its products and makes it simple for the user. Radio in the car is complex with many levels of choice – AM, FM, DAB, Streaming services andApps.

In repsonse to this complexity, Radioplayer have developed a prototype which creates a totally hybrid radio experience. It creates one station list which can be scanned, with service following from FM to internet stations. It makes the whole experience of radio in car seamless and simplifies the experience for the user. Radioplayer are currently taking the prototype to market and the audience were asked for feedback on the concept.  For more details of the Radioplayer prototype, contact Michael Hill at

Presentations from the event are currently available from the WorldDMB website to view for a limited period.  

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This entry was posted on October 3, 2014 by in WorldDAB Project Office.

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