With Norway set to make radio history just 11 days into 2017 with the start of its FM switch-off, the year promises to be another busy one for the digital radio industry.
“We live in a world where predictions are dangerous,” says Graham Dixon, Head of Radio at EBU, “but based on steady growth and interest and positive presentations from some countries which have traditionally been ‘wait and see’ territories, I am confident that we will see substantial progress as we did in 2016.”
“In Europe I’d expect to see the new services from Radio France and commercial broadcasters in Strasbourg, Lille and Lyon rolled out, along with further expansion to coverage in Italy,” says Patrick Hannon, President, WorldDAB. “In Denmark we’re looking forward to seeing their transition to DAB+ by October 2017, with the announcements on the commercial mux due early in the year.
“Looking elsewhere, the UK should hit its criteria for digital listening (50%), which will encourage Government to articulate a more developed strategy and vision for digital radio, and in addition to Norway’s DSO, we have Switzerland launching a major promotional campaign in 2017 ahead of its DSO, which starts in 2020.”
In Australia, last week it was announced that Canberra, Darwin and Hobart will be the next in line for permanent DAB+ digital radio services, with commercial broadcasters working closely with the ABC and SBS on the regional rollout plans.
“Next year in Australia we’re expecting the completion of the metro rollout along with improved coverage elsewhere,” said Joan Warner, CEO of Commercial Radio Australia and WorldDAB Asia Pacific Chair. “Across Asia Pacific I’m looking forward to seeing more trials announced, with a stronger WorldDAB presence to support broadcasters and regulators.”
“I hope we shall see general acceptance by stakeholders that producing radio receivers with both DAB and FM makes sense,” says Graham Dixon. “These can then be used across territories, and will smooth the future transition. What was encouraging this year was seeing the how the price of receivers continues to drop – I was delighted to find a 17 EUR DAB set in Switzerland showing that DAB is not the province of the rich.”
For Europe, greater political certainty is near the top of the WorldDAB wish list. “We’d love to see some meaningful action from the European Commission to underpin a European vision for digital radio,” says Patrick Hannon. “In key markets we’ve seen political support build through this year, particularly in Germany, and we’d like to see this continue and translate to similar action in France, Italy, Poland and over in Australia.”
Regulation is a focus in APAC next year, particularly in markets currently trialling DAB+. “It would be good to see Indonesian regulation settled by MCIT and in Malaysia, we’re looking for commercial operators to engage in the DAB+ trial, says Joan Warner. “Thailand is getting closer to starting its DAB+ trial and Sri Lanka is working on a regulatory framework.”
WorldDAB will be taking part in several events early in the new year. Click here to find out more.