Sunday 8 July 2018

Who Is Trying to Push South Africa Into the DAB Quagmire?

Lobby group submit slanted document to media authority.
The digital radio inquiry conducted by the media authority ICASA  (Reported here July 6) received 22 submissions including some by international stakeholders as the WorldDAB. This organisation is stepping up its efforts enticing South Africa to go DAB. - An experts group at the Swedish NGO the Public Service Council (PSR) in cooperation with the Norwegian Radio Listeners Federation (NRLF) has scrutinized the WorldDAB submission document and subsequently filed critical comments to ICASA. The technical parts have been screened by veteran broadcast engineers in Norway and Sweden.

The Expert Group comments that the WorldDAB submission focuses very much on DAB digital advantages over analogue FM radio but in a slanted way and emphasizes certain benefits of DAB. WorldDAB has deliberately omitted amounts of data and several facts. This will manipulate authorities and decision-makers. For any newcomer on the broadcast technological scene as a typical politician, it is not easy to understand what is going on. 

DAB is envisioned as a greater and more important as radio systems in the world than it far for being. The document is well written but artfully designed and as usual with many delicious and appealing promises, but in essence, all the critical issues are omitted. You should especially take notice that listener statistics are omitted. The number of radio channels or the number of receivers sold is still not any indication of consumer demand or satisfaction level. There are no references to any scientific studies verifying the technical or economical sustainability of the system.

No mention is made of non-DAB countries, as for example Hongkong, Finland, Sweden and Latvia, which were more source-critical, cautious to DAB as a system and those already have jumped off the train. We also want to put to your attention that major nations as Brazil, China, India, Russia, Japan, Canada, USA and Mexico are not planning any kind of transition to the DAB system.

We also want to put to your attention that the 2017 transition from FM to DAB+ in Norway is far from any success. DAB is not working smoothly and there are much dissatisfaction among listeners. A major poll lately show that 2 out 3 Norwegians are dissatisfied with DAB radio. Now, less than half the population is listening to DAB and rather stay on FM for local radio or cross-border listening. Norway will probably be the only of the 220 world nations to switch-off FM for national broadcasting.

Information about a DAB success from Norway it is not coming from objective and neutral sources but rather from the WorldDAB lobby with some of its public service stakeholders as the NRK, writes the group to ICASA.

Read the Expert Group technical evalutation report
Crucial technical problems with the DAB system

Meanwhile, last week Jörn Jensen from the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK attended the Radio Days Africa conference in South Africa with the story that the transition to DAB+ in Norway is a success. Jörn Jensen is a former president of WorldDAB (WorldDMB).   More than 470 million people can get DAB services around the world now… Our receivers, there’s over 68 million sold now, including car ones…, revealed Darren Willsher WorldDAB.

But DAB promoters still do not mention listenership. How many are actually listening to DAB radio? Regarding the number of DAB receivers it should be considered that the sales started about 20 years ago and there are more than 6 billion FM receivers in the world to match.

WorldDAB submission document on digital sound broadcasting to ICASA 2018

Also read
South Africa at Digital Crossroad: FM Radio Will Be Retained
The Illusions of the DAB Radio World Are Worrying
Why DAB Radio in Norway, But Not in Sweden?
The Impossible Mission: A Global Future for DAB Radio