Darren Willsher, WorldDAB
IBC is over for another year and once again it was a busy and productive show for the digital radio industry.
The WorldDAB stand was busy throughout, with interest from new markets in the Middle East, Gulf States and Asia Pacific. We also met with broadcasters, regulators and interested parties from across Europe, who wanted to find out more about how DAB+ is being used around the world.
The momentum behind DAB+ was the topic of a conference session on Monday morning – curated by WorldDAB as part of the ‘Advances in Technology’ programme, the agenda covered DAB+ progress around the world with a focus on Norway’s digital switchover (DSO), the importance of radio and its role in the car. (If you weren’t able to attend then it’s available to watch again with IBC’s On Demand service.)
Moderated by Jacqueline Bierhorst from Digital Radio Netherlands, the session opened with Patrick Hannon, President of WorldDAB, giving an overview of deployments around the world, highlighting how DAB is now established as the core future platform for radio in Europe and calling on the industry to stop selling analogue only radios in Europe.
Radio’s vital place in society was the focus of Graham Dixon’s presentation, which highlighted recent natural disasters and how radio plays an essential role in delivering information when people need it the most. As mobile and IP networks went down, people turned to radio so it’s more important than ever for radio to safeguard its future.
Graham’s EBU colleague Marcello presented research comparing the cost of delivering radio over IP networks compared to FM or DAB. It found DAB is the most cost-effective method of distribution, with the real cost of listening to a minute of radio via mobile broadband seven times that of listening via broadcast. If radio were to be delivered only by mobile broadband the cost would be much higher again. The full report is available to download from the EBU
Norway’s digital switchover was one of the big talking points of the show and the session included a joint presentation from public broadcaster NRK and commercial broadcaster P4 Group. Newly released listening figures have found that 2.6 million people in Norway now listening to stations that would not have existed without digital. In the first regions to switch off FM services, listening has almost retuned to pre-DSO levels and, across the country, levels are in-line with or above expectations.
The last part of the programme addressed the automotive market where research from Radioplayer found that drivers love radio – so much so that 70% said they wouldn’t give up their car radio.
Robbert Van Den Heuvel of Fiat Chrysler Group called for the industry to work together to drive adoption of DAB+ in Europe, highlighting how a date for switchover can help support its growth and how 100% of models from Fiat Chrysler are available with DAB+.
Radio maintaining its place in the dashboard was the focus of the final panel discussion, with Lawrence Galkoff from Radioplayer joining Jeff Jury of Xperi to look at how radio can evolve to compete – as Jeff pointed out, Google can’t take advantage of radio so there’s a massive opportunity for the industry.
The presentations from the session are available on the WorldDAB website and anyone interested in finding out more can contact the Project Office.