Exciting times ahead for digital radio

“There are exciting times ahead for digital radio,” according to Joan Warner, who led a World DAB workshop in Kuala Lumpur today.

Australia has been broadcasting DAB+ since 2009, and has achieved 64% coverage of the Australian population.
“There are up to 30 additional stations on air in each capital city since the launch of digital radio. There are now 460,000 vehicles with digital radios in the capital cities… Car manufacturers can see that DAB+ is here to stay,” said Warner
In Australia there are now 2 million receivers sold, with the cheapest being $15. “We are keeping the momentum going for digital radio by three ad campaigns each year and working with retailers to push forward very quickly.”
Australia wants to roll out digital radio to the remaining 36% of population in regional areas that are not yet covered. “We are working with regulator to plan the roll out to DAB+ and hopefully we will see the first of that roll out starting in 2017 once the planning is done.”
World DAB’s Bernie O’Neill outlined the progress of DAB+ in some other areas of the world:

  • In 2011 Hong Kong launched 13 exclusive additional DAB+ services.
  • Malaysia is trialing DAB+ in the Kuala Lumpur area with 7 RTM (national) and 5 commercial services being broadcast.
  • In Indonesia, the Communications Minister has decreed that DAB+ is the official platform for Band III.
  • Thailand has a one year trial underway
  • In South Korea there is ongoing assessment of DAB and the encouragement of DAB+ receivers in mobile handsets.
  • Brunei is working on a launch of DAB+
  • In New Zealand there are DAB trials in Auckland and Wellington

O’Neill (pictured)  also spoke about the Middle East where the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU) has recommended the use of DAB+.
There are very significant trials in South Africa, where there is a high power DAB+ trial transmission happening with 20 % population coverage.
Tunisia, the UAE and Kuwait all have DAB+ transmissions and trials are planned for Oman and Bahrain.
There is “a strong digital radio wave moving across Europe.” The UK is today launching 18 new national services on a new multiplex.

Graham Dixon (pictured) former controller of BBC3 now head of radio at the EBU, said DAB+ “has brought new energy into the radio industry in Britain.” He advised delegates that “you need to sell DAB not just on quality but also new services.”
The EBU has released a Toolkit to help broadcasters transition successfully to digital radio. Click for it here.
The success of countries where DAB+ is a reality is where there has been good collaboration from all broadcasters,” he said.

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