2015 has already seen significant developments in the world of DAB:
I have to start with the headline news from Norway:
THE FIRST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD TO SET A FIRM DATE FOR DIGITAL SWITCHOVER
Congratulations to all concerned – a fantastic example of what can be achieved with good planning, strong collaboration and absolute commitment. We look forward to updates on their progress.
In other breaking news, in Berlin yesterday (16th April), the German Ministry for Transport and Digital Infrastructure hosted a meeting with broadcasters and industry. The Ministry made clear its strong support for DAB+ and has proposed the establishment of a new steering group with broad representation from all stakeholders. As we know from Norway and other markets, this cross-industry collaboration is an essential ingredient for success.
Elsewhere, in Switzerland, industry and regulator are targeting DSO in 2020-24. The first phase of a major marketing offensive to promote DAB+ was signed off in March. The exact timing of future events in Switzerland will be influenced by the outcome of a referendum in June. In the UK, digital radio continues to make good progress with the next phase roll-out of national and local transmitters now under way and a second national commercial multiplex due on air in early 2016. In Netherlands, good progress continues with the roll out of regional multiplexes this year.
We also have developments in several newer markets: in Italy, the regulator has announced its intention to award local DAB+ licences in Piedmont, Valle d’Aosta and Umbria; in France, the regulator has come out strongly in favour of digital radio and has plans to license services in a number of new cities; Poland continues to extend its DAB+ coverage – now over 50% of the population.
One recent negative came from Sweden where the National Audit Office published a negative, and somewhat unbalanced, report about DAB+. This is not helpful, but Swedish broadcasters and industry are continuing to engage with the Ministry of Culture and other decision makers. Other potential markets are moving in a more positive direction: in Belgium, the first Flemish DAB+ services are due on air in Brussels in Q2 15 (the official launch will be at WorldDMB’s European automotive event in Brussels on 20th May); and the Czech public broadcaster is preparing plans for a potential DAB+ launch.
In Asia Pacific, Australia continues to make good progress – with the last 12 months seeing a significant uplift in automotive digital radio receivers. Elsewhere in the region, we are seeing continued interest from various markets, including Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand.
Our focus for the coming months will be on supporting countries in all stages of development. We are also re-engaging with the European Commission with a view to gaining formal support for digital radio at a European level. Later in the year, we are planning a “Think Tank” event for the Asia Pacific region to help accelerate developments in that part of the world.
Once again, I’d like to thank all those who have supported us in our efforts to bring digital radio to a wider audience. We are making good progress, let’s maintain the momentum.
Patrick Hannon, WorldDMB President