Patrick Hannon, President, WorldDAB
Next month the radio industry heads to Vienna for the 2016 WorldDAB General Assembly – with significant progress achieved since the 2015 event in London.
The theme for this year’s General Assembly is “New content. New markets”, looking at how DAB is being used around the world to reach new audiences and deliver innovative programming.
This time last year, I set out three areas of focus to accelerate DAB adoption:
In less than 12 months I’m pleased to say that progress in each area has been encouraging:
In the last month we’ve seen DAB services start in Slovenia and a new DAB+ trial start in Latvia. Belgium is working towards a ‘federal’ DAB+ launch in early 2018 and Norway and Switzerland are at the forefront of digital switchover plans, with less than 90 days until Norway starts switching off FM.
Norway is counting down to the start of its digital switchover and The United Kingdom launched its second national commercial multiplex to great acclaim from audiences. Germany is preparing a draft roadmap to digital switchover for discussion next year and we have also seen strong progress in Switzerland Denmark and continued growth of DAB+ in Netherlands, Italy and Australia.
In emerging markets, the highlight has been the announcement by the French regulator of a timetable for rolling out DAB+ across metropolitan France. Calls for applications have been issued for Lille, Lyon and Strasbourg — with services expected on air in the second half of 2017. In neighbouring Belgium, plans have been announced for a federal DAB+ launch across Flanders and Wallonia in early 2018. Elsewhere we have seen national DAB+ services start in Slovenia and a DAB+ trial is due to start in Latvia this month. In the Asia Pacific region, the biggest news has been the launch of a DAB+ trial in Indonesia. In South Africa, we are waiting to hear feedback about the outcome of the trial in Johannesburg and Pretoria.
DAB in cars
We’ll soon be announcing new figures on automotive adoption – and for new cars in particular, DAB adoption is increasingly impressive. In the UK, 86% of new cars now come with DAB as standard and other countries are close behind. WorldDAB’s new Automotive User Experience Group, set up earlier this year, is just one of the many ways in which our members are working closely with automotive manufacturers to increase adoption and improve the experience for drivers.
We’re seeing more governments and regulators working together on best practice, sharing ideas and collaborating on initiatives. Collaboration was a key theme at our automotive event earlier this year and this was from all levels and industries; government speakers to regulators, broadcasters, automotive OEMs and more.
A key objective for WorldDAB is securing European support for digital radio. In Germany, senior politicians and broadcasters are promoting the case that radio receivers which can display a station’s name should be required to have both FM and digital capability from 2019 onwards. The Dutch Government has made a similar submission to the European Commission and in Italy, regulator AGCOM is also arguing for its introduction. France already has a law which requires receivers to have digital capability once digital radio coverage exceeds 20% of the population – likely to be achieved next year. Our goal now is to secure similar support from the European Commission.
At this year’s General Assembly we’ll be looking back at the last 12 months and to the future of digital radio, learning from broadcasters, manufacturers and automotive OEMs to continue to make the strong case for digital radio around the world.
Want to find out more? Register to attend here.