By Rosemary Smith, WorldDAB Project Manager – Automotive
Mandatory digital terrestrial radio for all new car radios in Europe – European Electronic Communications Code (EECC)
EECC Current Situation
In November 2018, the European Parliament in its plenary session voted to adopt the new European Electronic Communications Code. This directive will require all new car radios in the EU to be capable of receiving digital terrestrial radio – in addition to any FM or AM functionality which manufacturers may wish to include.
Having been approved by the Parliament, the next steps for the directive are: first, formal approval by the Council (expected on 3 December) and, second, publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) – expected in late 2018 or early 2019, at which point the directive enters into force.
Country by country – national legislation
After the directive has completed the approval and publication process, each Member State has two years in which to draft its own, national legislation ensuring cars in the market comply with the directive.
Different markets will therefore have different national legislation; the deadline for submission of national legislation is two years, although the process of implementation of the legislation could take longer. As it stands, the current situation is as follows:
Germany follows clearly set out EU directives – it is therefore assumed that their national legislation will be written and implemented well within the timescales required by the EU.
In France, the CSA expects to trigger the French receiver law requiring all new radios (including automotive) to be capable of receiving digital (DAB+) broadcasts in December 2018. The law states that within 18 months of the law being triggered, new car radios will be required to have DAB+. Should the announcement be made in December, the rule will apply starting from the second half of 2020.
The Italian government has introduced a law requiring all domestic and automotive radio receivers to have digital capability from 1 January 2020. Budget law number 205 of the 27 December 2017 was published on the Official Journal number 302 of the 29 December 2017 entered into force on the 01/01/2018.
The UK already has a high level of new cars with digital terrestrial radio installed and is therefore well on track to comply with the Directive within the two-year national legislation period. Brexit is not expected to affect the UK’s adoption of the directive.
Other markets in the EU and beyond have signaled they will comply with the directive, including Norway – the first country to have completed a digital switchover – a market in which 98% of new cars released today are already equipped with a DAB radio. As for Switzerland, which is expected to complete its digital switchover between 2020-2024, 85% of new cars sold in the country include a DAB radio.
What happens next?
The earliest date national legislation could come into force is 2021, as some markets may submit legislation which requests the immediate inclusion of digital radio in all new vehicles.
How should you prepare?
All new car radios sold in the EU must have digital terrestrial radio.
The directive also formalises EU consent for Member States introducing rules which require consumer receivers to be able to receive digital transmissions. This is consistent with a law already introduced in Italy requiring all new radios to have digital capability from 1 January 2020. France is expected to trigger a similar law once DAB+ coverage exceeds 20% of the population – likely to be by the end of 2018. Several other EU markets are currently considering similar initiatives, which would help accelerate the uptake of digital radio and, through economies of scale, are likely to lead to lower prices for entry level DAB digital radios.
The full text of the European Electronic Communications Code can be found here.
The relevant sections of the Code are the following:
Article 113, Annex XI:
Any car radio receiver integrated in a new vehicle of category M which is made available on the market for sale or rent in the Union from … [two years after the date of entry into force of this Directive] shall comprise a receiver capable of receiving and reproducing at least radio services provided via digital terrestrial radio broadcasting. Receivers which are in accordance with harmonised standards the references of which have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union or with parts thereof shall be considered to comply with that requirement covered by those standards or parts thereof.
Member States may adopt measures to ensure the interoperability of other consumer radio receivers, while limiting the impact on the market for low-value radio broadcast receivers and ensuring that such measures are not applied to products where a radio receiver is purely ancillary, such as smartphones, and to equipment used by radio amateurs.
 Category M vehicles are motor vehicles having at least four wheels and for the carriage of passengers