News Installation

Digital radio goes worldwide

test 16 September 2008

HOLLAND: WorldDMB and the EBU launched a joint project at IBC, reports George Jarrett, writing for The IBC Daily and sister title TVBEurope. The ability to buy a digital radio and use it anywhere – a consumer desire shared by broadcasters who wish to reach their audiences – came a step closer at IBC with the launch of WorldDMB Digital Radio Receiver Profiles, a joint project between WorldDMB and the EBU.

"The fundamental quest was finding a harmonising solution for digital radio in Europe, because we have a number of technologies – DAB, DAB+, DMB used in an audio way, and DMB used in a video way," said Lieven Vermaele (pictured), director of the EBU technical department.

"Consumers want to buy one radio receiver and use it everywhere, and that is exactly what we tried to realise," he added. "We had to resolve differences between the radio fundamentalists and the radio multimedia nuts. There were people who want more quality and more channels, and therefore we have solutions like DAB and DAB+. And we have people who think we should accommodate more multimedia, such as catering for rich media and even TV."

The answer is a set of three profiles. The first is the Standard, a basic one which is expected to drive the price-sensitive mass market. Profile 2 provides for Rich Media, which suggests tabletop radios with colour screens and the ability to receive advanced text and picture applications. The Multimedia profile will suit mobile phones and personal media players. In-car systems are also catered for.

"The third level is about the video experience, which is fully DMB-oriented," said Vermaele. "It was vital to do this exercise because if we didn't harmonise the situation in Europe, it would be a barrier to the take up of digital radio in the coming years.

"It is a starting point. These are minimum profiles with minimum functionality, but more advanced solutions will come. For Europeans it is a really important stepping point."

Vermaele concluded: "Consumers want to buy one radio receiver and use it everywhere."

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