Patrick Hannon, President, WorldDAB
This week saw the 7th WorldDAB automotive event in Brussels, produced in association with the Netherlands EU Presidency. 2016 saw the strongest line-up to date, with a broad range of speakers representing European governments, regulators, automotive manufacturers and the radio industry.
It was fantastic to see the progress that DAB is making across Europe – particularly in the automotive sector. There is still more to do and throughout the day there was a clear theme that all speakers kept returning to – the need for collaboration.
This collaboration needs to come from all levels and not just the radio industry. Our first session of the day saw speakers from ministries in the UK, Netherlands and Germany joined by French regulator the CSA, and all representatives spoke of the need to work together across borders to help speed the rollout of DAB. The European Commission can play a big part in this within the context of its Digital Single Market Strategy.
We heard from Helen Boaden of the BBC and President of the newly created European Digital Radio Alliance, and Mike Hawes of the SMMT, both of whom talked of this need for collaboration to help ensure the best quality of service for both consumers and broadcasters. There is a clear and important role for DAB to play in the car that cannot be met by internet radio or even cellular data services.
As highlighted by Helen Boaden, DAB has three key advantages over IP:
1) Security and reliability of service (especially in times of emergency)
2) Content is offered to listeners free-of-charge (no data charges)
3) Broadcast radio operates to an established and stable model – in contrast there is no guarantee that radio services delivered by IP today will still be available via IP in five years’ time.
Among the 150 attendees (and four DAB+ fitted cars!) we were pleased to be joined by speakers from Audi and Fiat Chrysler who provided the OEM perspective on DAB and what they need from both broadcasters and radio manufacturers.
Over the coming weeks we’ll be looking in more detail at each of the sessions, sharing the slides, key messages and updates for those who couldn’t make it over.
For those who did join us in Brussels this week; thank you and I hope you found the event as valuable as we did. It’s clear that DAB in the car is at a tipping point across Europe and industry and EU wide collaboration will be key to its growth. As Jos De Groot from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs said to the conference, “The momentum is now, so let’s do it!”