Thursday 27 February 2020

Swiss Community Radio Cannot Afford DAB Radio

Picture: zVg
Government subsidies for the FM-DAB transition to be discontinued.
Community radio station Country Radio Switzerland will drop DAB broadcasting at the end of the year because state funding will gradually be reduced starting 2020. This is DAB death, says CEO David Bolli. Prior to the  (communications authority) Bakom grant, only a few stations could be received on DAB +. It was a shock that we were not informed by either Bakom or our DAB supplier that the subsidies would be phased out, says David Bolli, to  

Previously, Behind has subsidized the radio stations that have gone over to DAB which covered 80% of the costs, This year it will only be 50% - and the proportion of subsidies will continue to decrease. In 2022 it will be 10%.

They enticed us with the subsidies. Without warning, they were reduced from 80 percent to 50 percent in 2020, says Bolli. Already in 2017, the radio associations were informed that this proportion would decrease from 2020, said Francis Meier, spokesman for Bakom. The radio associations were informed of the new financing conditions at an information event about the DAB+ campaign by Bakom and were officially published in connection with the Swiss Radio Day in August 2019 in Zurich. I cannot judge exactly how this happened, we are not member of any radio association, says Bolli.

The reduction in state technology funding did not come as a surprise to us, says André Sidler, founder of James FM. The investments and DAB distribution had been planned so that the broadcasting business could continue to cover the costs even after funding ceased in 2023. We consciously decided only on DAB distribution in areas which we can afford on our own in the long term.

Country Radio Switzerland says goodbye to DAB + distribution at the end of 2020. We cannot afford it, says Bolli. The station is forced to pay about 20,000 francs / year (about 19,000 euro) for the DAB broadcast instead of 8,000 francs today. We must "earn" every franc ourselves - through advertising, sponsorship and donations. We have been on the air since December 2008 and finding money is becoming increasingly difficult. The number of listeners is high, but only a few are willing to pay for it, says Bolli.

Country Radio Switzerland hopes to be available again via the previously tried and used channels, the mobile app and via cable. We will continue to fight with our volunteer donors, says the passionate radio producer who believes that DAB is now dead.

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Like Norway, Switzerland is the only country that has switched off much of its FM radio. Instead, they are investing in an expansion of DAB+. However, most of the digital listening is now via the Internet, satellite and cable.

Local radio (community radio) is on DAB platform in a few countries where the state subsidizes investments and technical operations. Besides Switzerland, it is mainly in France and Australia. In other countries, there is a strong community radio resistance to leaving FM in favor of DAB. This also applies to the Nordic countries. Above all, DAB involves high costs, outdated technology and insufficient reach. Almost all of the world's approximately 25,000 community radio stations broadcast on FM.

In Norway, there is a similar proposal to introduce state subsidies in order to entice local broadcasters to replace FM with DAB+.  

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