Thursday 20 June 2013

Green light for DAB+ in Sweden. But no state funding. (Updated)

Dim outlook for a "switch-over" 2022
Alternative to DAB to be found for local radio
The Swedish government has proposed to the Parliament that the public radio gets green light to start DAB+ with a "switch-over" date in 2022. However, no extra state funding or extra tv license funding is on the agenda. This means that Sveriges Radio (SR) will have to finance the DAB distribution costs by loans and development of new channels necessary to expand from four FM channels to 12 DAB-channels by its own regular budget. To be able to do this SR will have to streamline administration and cut down staff in other parts.

The Minister of Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth has officially stated that the development of DAB should be "market driven". She says the public service and the commercial networks have to use their own money for a DAB infrastructure. As the DAB system will not be suitable for small scale broadcasting The Radio- and TV Authority should find another technical solution for community radio 2016.
The Parliament will take a decision on this issue in September or October 2013.

SR, Teracom and other active players of the so-called DAB-lobby are happy that DAB+ will be accepted but there is dissatisfaction with the lack of government financial support.  But this outcome was quite expected. Among many issues connected to the choice of DAB+ the government is threatened by being taken to the European Commission if favouring one particular digital system before others. 

Besides DAB+ there are three other systems (DRM/DRM+, HD Radio(IBOC) and ISDB-T) as well as the tv-system used also fro radio (DVB-T) in some countries like Finland. Also DAB+ was 2012 recognized 2012 by a government commission to be unfit for small-scale broadcasters as community radio ("närradio") A FM "switch-off" cannot and will probably never take place in Sweden, but the FM band might be digitalized in parts by DRM+.  Also there already is a widespread digital radio listening on the Internet in Sweden.

However, the most important factors is that without state funding and no traces of consumer demand DAB+ will not survive in Sweden.