by Aris Erdogdu, Communications Manager, WorldDAB
The Radio and TV Festival organised as part of the 50th anniversary of the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU), held in Tunis at the end of June, served as an opportunity to highlight the expansion of DAB+ outside of Europe – particularly in Northern Africa, where Tunisia has just announced the launch of regular DAB+ services.
Following its installation in March 2019, the national multiplex operated by the Office National de la Télédiffusion (ONT), the national public broadcaster in Tunisia, is now on air, covering over half (51%) of Tunisia’s 11 million inhabitants.
The multiplex, which hosts 18 DAB+ stations, covers the capital of Tunis as well as other regions in the north-eastern part of the country, including Ariana, Ben Arous, Nabeul, Sousse, Monastir, Manouba, Zaghouan, Bizerte and Mahdia.
The launch of DAB+ in Tunisia was celebrated during a DAB+ digital radio workshop organised as part of ASBU’s Radio and TV Festival.
The workshop was attended by broadcasters, regulators and network operators from across the Arab world. It featured a WorldDAB presentation on the rollout status of DAB+ around the world, as well as a presentation from ONT’s deputy director of implementation Sofian Jelili – alongside Bruno Carbonara from Supervision, which helped bring the project to life – highlighting the step-by-step rollout of DAB+ in Tunisia.
Sofian Jelili, Deputy Director of Implementation – Office National de la Télédiffusion, discussing the launch of DAB+ in Tunisia
Tunisia has come a long way since the initial DAB+ trial carried out in 2008 – from having four DAB+ stations on air across three sites in Boukornine, Zaghouan, and Kef Errand, to broadcasting 18 DAB+ stations to over half of the country’s population. But other countries in Northern Africa are also taking steps to rollout DAB+, including neighbouring Algeria.
Speaking as part of the workshop, Dr Chawki Sahnine from TDA, the Algerian national broadcaster, also touched on Algeria’s recent progress on the DAB+ front – a trial covering 68% of the population of the capital Algiers has been in operation since February 2018. The next step is to now make DAB+ available to the entire population of Algiers and surrounding areas – approximately 6 million people – and the entire population of the country in coming years.
Dr Chawki Sahnine, General Director – Télédiffusion d’Algérie speaking at the DAB+ workshop
The Middle East has also seen significant progress on the development of DAB+ in recent months – permanent DAB+ services are on now air in Kuwait, Qatar is expected to launch regular services in the near future, and we are seeing higher levels of interest in the Middle East from Jordan, UAE, Bahrain, and other Arab states.
As for ASBU, the union has issued a unified radio receiver specification including DAB reception and Arabic fonts as of 2020, highlighting yet again the growing interest Arab in implementing DAB+ within the Arab world.