Radio experts from several countries across the ASEAN region attended the “NBTC / RTA / PRD / WorldDAB Workshop on Digital Radio Services Implementation and Business Models” which took place on Wednesday, 24th July 2019 at the Grand Ballroom of The Century Park Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand.
Organised jointly by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), the Royal Thai Army (RTA), the Government Public Relations Department (PRD) and WorldDAB, the workshop was officially opened by Col. Dr. Natee Sukonrat, Vice-Chairman of NBTC who welcomed participants and invited speakers to provide an update about digital radio. Topics included not only technical and policy matters, but also lessons learned from countries that have successfully rolled out DAB+, including Norway and Australia. The workshop took place in parallel with the 5th SOMRI Working Group of ASEAN Digital Broadcasting (Senior Officials Meeting Responsible for Information) hosted by the ASEAN National Secretariat of Thailand.
Speaking via video link, WorldDAB Vice President and CEO of Commercial Radio Australia Joan Warner congratulated Thailand on leading the way in the region, by involving major players from public and private broadcasters. This collaboration will enable the Thai radio industry to successfully deploy DAB+ as the key digital platform around which streaming, smart speakers and complementary IP based platforms can exist. Despite radio’s enduring strength, with the increased competition from online services, she encouraged broadcasters to offer more, new niche content, and to work closely with manufacturers, retailers and the automotive industry in the rollout of DAB+.
Leading commercial radio stations join Thai DAB+ trial
Commercial broadcasters selected to join the DAB+ trial alongside RTA, MCOT and PRD include Coolism, Hitz955, Greenwave Radio and Radio JS 100 – all of which aim to boost audiences, increase advertising revenue and deliver more localised content by broadcasting via DAB+. Genres on offer include news, traffic and travel, lifestyle, contemporary Thai music and live events.
Bangkok is a large modern city with many areas of dense urban buildings and a huge number of FM services, often interfering with each other. Trial participants look forward to DAB+ providing a clear, interference-free platform, allowing broadcasters to increase audience and advertising revenue.
Huge opportunity for DAB+ enabled vehicles
Mr.Ong-Arj Pongkijworasin, President of the Thai Automotive Industry Association (TAIA), advised that Thailand is the largest producer of vehicles in the region, manufacturing over 2m vehicles a year. With 1m new vehicles sold in Thailand every year, adding to the existing 18-19m vehicles already on the road, TAIA is committed to remaining involved in the expansion of DAB+ in Thailand. With traffic congestion in Bangkok categorised as heavy or very heavy until after 10pm, Thailand represents an opportunity for DAB+ enabled vehicles.
DAB+ trial status
A 20 month trial has now gone on air in Bangkok and the areas surrounding the capital, with a total of 11 stations. Technical testing has been followed by the launch of basic services, with the third and final phase of the trial being the launch of advanced services expected to be completed in 2020. Field Tests of the DAB+ trial have shown good coverage with over 9.2m people covered at road level and 6.5m at building level.