Patrick Hannon, President, WorldDAB
The end of July is a good time to review the progress DAB digital radio has made this year – and to set out our priorities for the rest of 2015.
The year to date
Leading the way are Norway and Switzerland. Norway is firmly on its way to its 2017 Digital Switchover. At a conference in Oslo in May, the support and enthusiasm of politicians and broadcasters was clear. In Switzerland, in June, the positive outcome of the broadcasting referendum paves the way for Digital Switchover in 2020-24.
The UK continues to make good progress with nearly 40% of listening now on digital devices. In Germany, the newly formed cross-industry Steering Board had its first meeting in June. The aim of this group is to develop a strategy which has the backing of key stakeholders in German radio.
In Italy and France, the regulators are driving forward with plans for the further roll-out of digital radio. In Italy, AGCOM has plans for local multiplexes across 39 regions (eight announced so far). In France, the CSA is currently consulting on extending digital radio beyond Paris, Nice and Marseille into 20 more zones – with a particular focus on areas where FM capacity is most limited.
When we add in further developments in Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Poland and the Czech Republic, it is clear that DAB / DAB+ is emerging as Europe’s core future radio platform.
Further afield, Australia continues to lead the way. In the Asia Pacific region, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia remain the best new prospects for adoption of DAB+ (with South Korea promising to make an announcement about its plans shortly). WorldDAB has attended events in South Africa, Turkey and Tunisia – all showing strong interest in the digitisation of radio.
In May we held the WorldDAB European Automotive Event in Brussels. We had speakers from the Bavarian Ministry (Bavaria being the home of BMW and Audi) and ACEA (European Association of Automotive Manufacturers). With over 150 attendees, we are clearly raising the profile of “digital radio in cars”.
Priorities for the rest of 2015
We have three key priorities for the second half of the year:
We will continue to work with country partners to help educate policy makers, regulators and broadcasters about digital radio. A key focus is on sharing best practice.
In the UK, Norway, Switzerland and Australia, enormous progress has been made – for example, in the UK, 70% of new cars now come with DAB as standard. However, in other markets, the number of new cars with DAB+ as standard remains low. A key priority is to make progress in the major European markets. We will seek to achieve this by supporting national partners – and further raising awareness of digital radio at a European level.
European support for Digital Terrestrial Radio
In April, I met with the European Commission to discuss the inclusion of digital terrestrial radio in the new Digital Single Market (DSM) Strategy. Previously, the Commission has considered radio as a competence of Member States, but this time they wanted to hear what we have to say. I have also met with several MEPs and advisors involved in the DSM Strategy – they have also been receptive to our ideas.
Our next step is to refine our messaging and to build consensus amongst multiple stakeholders. Initial conversations with organisations such as the EBU, AER and Digital Europe have been encouraging.
We aim to use the General Assembly in London in November as a platform for showcasing this European messaging. I am delighted to announce that Ed Vaizey, UK Culture Minister, has agreed to speak at this event.
That’s it for now. Thanks to all our supporters. Enjoy the rest of the summer. See you in September.
Patrick Hannon, WorldDAB President