Monday 24 June 2019

Parliament of Second Largest State in Germany Says Farewell to DAB+

Asking for a market-driven transition to a more modern technology
The Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) state parliament wants to end the promotion of the terrestrial transmission standard DAB+ for digital radios. A request from the liberal party FDP was unanimously adopted on June 19. The resolution recommendation calls on the state government jointly with the federal government to switch off DAB+ in favor of other standards such as 5G. Last year DAB was questioned by Auditors and business in Lower Saxony.

In Germany, radio still means 92 percent FM, and only about 10 percent of broadcasters use DAB+, states the decision of the state parliament. Particularly criticized is the fact that the financing of DAB+ is also drawn from the broadcasting contributions. In the speeches before the vote DAB+ was therefore criticized as a "waste of money" reports the magazine Infosat.

Funding through the broadcasting contribution also discriminates against private broadcasters. For private radio stations, the simultaneous broadcasting via VHF and DAB + (so-called simulcast) is cost-intensive and thus economically unreasonable, writes the chairman of the state parliament in the recommendation to the Lower Saxony state parliament.

The Association of Private Media Vaunet sees private broadcaster at a disadvantage: Unlike the public service channels, which will receive around 600 million euros from the broadcasting contribution for their switch to DAB+ 2017-2025, the private investors have their investments here completely out of their advertising revenues finance FM distribution. 

The delegates in the Lower Saxony state parliament see DAB+ only as a transitional technology: The future of the radio is not limited to a radio transmission path. Radio is technologically neutral and must be receivable where the listeners are. Most users now receive radio over the Internet, especially the smartphone is popular as a receiver. MEPs also refuse to allow broadcasting to be switched off for FM broadcasting.

The chairman of the liberal parliamentary group FDP in the state parliament welcomed the decision: ​​It is unique nationwide that a state parliament unanimously voted to end the promotion of DAB + by the broadcasting contributions. This is a new input in the media policy debate. 

The accepted proposal requests the Lower Saxony state government

1. to consistently work together with the federal government, other states and private and public broadcasters for a market-driven transition to a digital radio future and to develop a clear, coordinated concept,
2. speak out against an FM shutdown date and
3. to engage within the system of broadcasting and financing to terminate DAB+ in favor of building forward-looking technologies, such as the 5G standard. 

Download the proposal in full

Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony) is Germany’s second largest state after Bavaria. Population 8 million. Capital is Hannover. 

Test broadcasts on 5G with radio and/or television is ongoing in Bavaria. Similar tests are reported carried out 2018-2019 in Austria, Finland, France, Norway, Italy, Portugal and United Kingdom involving public broadcasters. Test are also reported in Japan and the United States.

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