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Radio bosses bullish on DAB/DAB+

Kevin Hilton 20 March 2013
Radio bosses bullish on DAB/DAB+

DAB and DAB+ are the future for European digital radio, according to key figures in the industry who addressed the Radiodays Europe conference in Berlin earlier this week (17-19 March). Sessions focused on the move towards turning off analogue services and the possibilities for hybrid radios combining digital broadcasting and the internet. The event, attended by more than 1000 delegates, opened with Jan-Willem Brüggenwirth, chief executive of leading Dutch station Radio 358, stating that DAB+ will be the "next big thing" for radio in the Netherlands. The country aims to have full digital coverage using the format by 1 September this year. This has been achieved, Brüggenwirth said, because of a "tripartite collaboration" involving the government and public and private broadcasters. The Dutch experience mirrors a similar approach taken in Australia, which is now using DAB+. Tripartite agreement is also behind Norway’s move towards a complete digital radio network, according to Marius Lille, head of radio at NRK. Norway is aiming to switch-off FM by 2017. The industry as a whole is now preparing for fully integrated digital networks, including service following (http://www.psneurope.com/newsletteraudio4broadcast-content/full/service-following-dab-s-missing-link#.UUmyDhx7IkQ). The growth of internet radio listening and appearance of new apps for smartphones and other mobile devices has led critics of DAB/DAB+ to argue that a digital replacement for traditional terrestrial broadcasting is not the way ahead. This stance was questioned by radio futurologist James Cridland (pictured, photo: Stina Gullander) and Babak Zeini , managing partner of technology consultancy FORCE Innovations, who offered statistical data that both now and in the future there will be insufficient bandwidth for smartphones to receive radio. Cridland and Zeini argued that hybrid systems, with the bulk of the transmission coming through a broadcast chain supported by additional information from the internet, would be the best way forward. Radio DNS offers this today and Tobias Wallerius of car electronics and components supplier Visteon said it was closing the gap between "traditional broadcasting and internet radio". EBU media director Annika Nyberg Frankenhaeuser gave an overview of the Eurochip project, which backs free to air broadcasting, both analogue and digital, to all types of device. She commented that radio "must find its way into mobile phones and tablets" to guarantee its future internationally, adding that the Eurochip was a simple way to achieve that. Next year’s Radiodays will take place in Dublin from 23 to 25 March. www.radiodayseurope.com

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