DAB+ radios on show at DBS2014

Radio receiver manufacturers around the world have developed a range of DAB+ radios, with many of them on show at this week’s Digital Broadcasting Symposium in Malaysia.

The world’s radio industry leaders are making sure radio broadcasts can be heard on all the new digital broadcast platforms, as well as through wifi streaming and on smart phone apps. Many of the receivers pictured use app-like screen displays and are enabled with wifi streaming as well as digital receiver chips.

“Broadcast radio is still the backbone of radio in Australia and will be for some time,”  CRA’s Joan Warner told delegates. “Apps and streaming cannot take the place of free to air broadcast radio but they do offer us an opportunity to connect in more ways with our listeners.”
This point was echoed by several speakers, including the BBC’s Lindsay Cornell, who said that the high cost of streaming audio is becoming a burden for the BBC. The more people listen to streaming, the more it costs, explained Cornell, but broadcast radio’s costs are fixed no matter how many people listen.
Cornell pointed to a report on distribution costs, which reveals that the BBC spent £30 million in 2012/13 on online distribution. This is more than the total costs of free to air radio and tv annual combined in previous years, before streaming and the iPlayer were introduced. The report makes interesting reading for those who think online radio can replace free to air broadcasting any time soon. 
In her presentation, Warner quoted Australian research which showed that consumers would like to be able to receive free to air radio in their phones to prolong battery life and minimise data costs. Free to air digital radio chips in phones will also benefit Telcos, who will be able to reduce network congestion.
“Radio audiences number in their millions, all listening at the same time, so apps and streaming cannot cope with the kind of numbers that listen to free to air broadcasting. A hybrid solution where there are receiver chips in phones to provide the audio, combined with apps is the solution. Hybrid functionality will ensure a bright future for the industry,” said Warner.
Warner revealed that listening via streaming in metro areas of Australia is about 9%, while in regional areas streaming listening was about 2% (before streaming was switched off due the the current PPCA dispute). The majority of radio listening is still via free to air broadcast, with DAB+ listening being three times as much as online streaming listening.

In other sessions, Kath Brown and Les Sabel presented the results of successful broadcast trials of DAB+ in Kuala Lumpur and Steve Ahern gave tips for broadcasters about how to file multi-media reports for tv and radio from smart phones.

DAB+ KL Test yielded good results, with key points being:

•The transmission in horizontally polarised
•The receive antenna was inside the bus
•The trial found that the minimum field strength appeared to be higher than expected
• A complex propagation environment

Brown and Sabel conculded that DAB+ was a good broadcast system for the KL environment that combined complex terrian with a built-up CBD location.

Helping broadcasters to understand how to gather, edit and broadcast content in the new mobile media environment, radioinfo’s Steve Ahern showed off the tools he uses in his smart phone to gather, edit and file multi-media content to broadcast stations and websites and discussed the diverging audience consumption habits of consumers in today’s media landscape.

Tips for using smart phone tools for broadcast included:
  •  Know how to get to your apps fast
  •  Location recording principles on mobiles – such as don’t pan too fast, beward of backlighting
  •  Mic types for mobile devices – external mics such a Rode
  •  Mobile lenses – bolt on macro and zoom lenses now available
  •  Audio Editing Apps – Wavepad recommended
  •  Video Editing Apps – eg Vimeo and Perfect Video


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