Tuesday 31 December 2013

Broadband Access Now for 3 of 4 European Households

Internet access and use is widespread amongst the EU population. 79% of the households had access to the internet in 2013 and 76% had a broadband internet connection, compared with 55% and 42% respectively in 2007. For most individuals in the EU28, using the internet has become a regular activity, with 62% of individuals using it every day or almost every day and a further 10% at least once a week. On the other hand, 21% of individuals reported in 2013 that they have never used the internet, compared with 37% in 2007. 

Monday 30 December 2013

Digital Radio Chip For Multiple Radio Standards

New chip will include both DAB and DRM
Frontier Silicon in London has announced details of Chorus 4, its next generation digital radio chip. Chorus 4 is a single-chip solution, which integrates four previously separate chips to deliver significant cost and energy consumption savings. The chip is designed to encourage the continued advance of digital radio around the world by supporting all major global digital radio standards. 

Thursday 26 December 2013

DAB contributes to the decline of UK radio industry

After ten years British radio expert rejects DAB - again
In 2004, Grant Goddard wrote his first article predicting that the UK's implementation of DAB digital radio was headed for failure:  It was not guesswork. I had analysed radio industry data since 1980. I had worked at The Radio Authority when it implemented DAB. I had worked in Ofcom's radio division. I had seen DAB from inside and outside the regulator and the commercial radio industry. Only five years after its launch, the available evidence demonstrated that DAB was headed for disaster in the UK.

Thursday 19 December 2013

FM and Internet Might Kill DAB in Germany

Strong position for FM radio, only to be challenged by Internet radio.
DAB radio marginalized in Germany.
A report presented by the media authorities shows that analogue FM transmission still dominates some 90 years after the introduction of radio and 20 years after the start of digital radio. 94 per cent of German households not only have FM reception at their disposal but also own an average 3.5 receivers. The chance of a radio service to reach an audience is many times higher for FM than for any other mode of transmission.

Monday 16 December 2013

British Government: No Date for FM Switch-Off

Digital radio switch-over: Minister reveals measures to aid broadcasters
The radio industry will have to wait for digital switch-over after communications minister Ed Vaizey said today that much had to be done before broadcasters could contemplate following television into an all-digital future.

As expected, Vaizey did not announce a switch-over date, with digital take-up slower than expected, accounting for just over a third of all radio listening. 

Friday 13 December 2013

DRM+ Radio Station On Air in Germany on Regular Basis

Digital radio on the FM band
The student radio “bit express” in Erlangen in cooperation with Fraunhofer IIS is from December 11 is broadcasting their new transmitter on 87.9 MHz using DRM+. This frequency was assigned for test transmissions by the Bavarian regulatory authority BLM. With the set-up of the final hardware, “bit express” will be on air with DRM+ on a regular basis. For the first time the new enhanced codec
xHE-AAC is put into operation.

Read more: www.bitexpress.de   

Saturday 7 December 2013

Confusion on DAB Standards Continues in France

The French Ministry of Culture and Communication will shortly authorize the transmission standard DAB+. The government envisages that this will co-exist alongside the standard already authorized, T-DMB (DMB-R). This reveals that the government still considers digital radio to be a matter for experimentation, in that its decision "will enrich the period of experimentation in offering two technical paths for digital radio with their particular costs and modes of operation". 

Friday 6 December 2013

German Youth Rejects Digital Radio

Youth radio listening; FM triumph, DAB flop
German youth are still listening to radio on a stationary radio or car radio and it is overwhelmingly via FM. According to the "JIM Report 2013" (Youth, Information, Multimedia) from Medienpädagogischen Research Association Südwest three quarters listen to an ordinary FM receiver and two thirds on a FM car radio. 
In spite of the broad offering of other means of listening as mobile phone, Internet, mp3-player and DAB+ youth are indifferent to those platforms. It is striking that the usage of DAB+ units has decreased from 3 to 2 percent in a year. (Satellifax)

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Labour Warning Against a Hasty Switch to DAB Radio

Hasty switch could hit poor, warns British MP
Shadow culture minister Helen Goodman has warned the government against a hasty switch to digital radio, saying the leap from analogue to digital would hit the poorest households hardest. She said the government was putting the interests of big business ahead of ordinary listeners, who she said should not be expected to pay for new digital sets at a time when household budgets were already stretched.

Friday 29 November 2013

No U.K. Switch-Over Date To Be Announced

Government 'won't be pushed' into digital radio switchover date
Ed Vaizey
Communications minister Ed Vaizey has indicated he will not announce a switchover date for digital radio next month after MPs from Tories and Labour warned that smaller stations "faced extinction" if the majority of broadcasters abandoned analogue in order to go exclusively on DAB.
Vaizey said he believed digital radio was the future, but said he would "not be pushed into a switchover date. We will not get ahead of listeners." He was speaking at a House of Commons debate on Thursday in which the government faced a backlash from MPs over the prospect of a premature switchover.

Thursday 28 November 2013

Mobile Broadband Future Basic Platform for Radio

Free wireless networks will add to 3G/4G platforms
As reported earlier according to the Ericsson mobility report 90 percent of the world population will be have 3G coverage 2019 and 65 percent will have 4G/LTE. The number of mobile subscriptions will be tenfold by 2019 increasing to 9,3 billion and of this 5,6 billion will be smartphones. Besides mobile broadband 3G/4G today one billion Internet users can connect to free wireless networks - wi-fi - all over the world. Many media services as radio and television will be easily accessible via apps for mobile/smartphone users. This will further kill the arguments for a new digital radio infrastructure replacing FM as DAB/DAB+.

Saturday 23 November 2013

DRM+ Offers Solution For Small-scale Digital Radio

DRM+ could be the obvious alternative to the call for delaying the digital switchover from FM coming from smaller commercial stations in the United Kingdom writes Ruxandra Obreja is Digital Radio Mondiale Consortium chairman in an extensive commentary in Radio World International. 

Monday 18 November 2013

"Neutral" EBU Will Support DAB Lobbying

EBU promise to support a push for an FM switch-off 
At the WorldDMB general assembly conference in Amsterdam Nov 6th there were seminar topics on a digital radio transition. In focus was the plans of receiver manufacturers and the call for speeding up the digital switch-over, as reported by CMFE

Representatives for Sony and Pure said there are no plans whatsoever to terminate inclusion of the FM function in future digital radios. Neither have they any plans to implement DRM+. Many DAB proponents are pushing for acceleration of the switch-over by lobbying for policies that set early dates for a switch-off of analogue radio.

Small-scale DAB Still Not for Local Radio

No FM switch-off in Sweden before an alternative is found
WorldDMB – the organization promoting DAB radio – had its 2013 General Assembly in Amsterdam November 6th. One of the conference sessions was "Small scale solution for local broadcasters". Ofcom presented a cost efficient "local DAB" solution as a demonstrable prototype, using SoftWare based encoding equipment with a low cost amplifier and transmitter.
However, this solution still has some standardisation hurdles and experimentations to overcome. It does not solve the prime problem of how to run a local mux efficiently with only one or two programs, the remainder of the mux being empty. 

Wednesday 13 November 2013

DAB Radio Sound Quality Inferior to FM

Requirement of high data rate bad news for DAB proponents
The digital radio system DAB+ , needs to transmit high data rate, otherwise there is a risk of poor sound quality. It is one of the conclusions of a research project where Luleå University collaborated with the Swedish public service radio (SR). The results are published in the latest issue of the "Journal of the Audio Engineering Society" and has also been submitted to the British Departement of Culture and Media which is expected in mid-December to announce a switch-off year for FM for major broadcasters. 

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Commercial Radio Against Digital Switchover Plans

British broadcasters put up a fight for FM
Ed Vaizey, the minister for culture, communications and creative industries, is due to clarify the government's switchover plans on December 16. A group of broadcasters has called on the government to abandon plans for digital radio switchover, claiming the move would jeopardise local radio and cost households "several hundred pounds" each.

The consortium representing 80 stations across the UK listened to by 6 million people a week issued a joint statement. The group said the switchover posed a serious risk of listeners losing access to radio because most households only have an analogue set. It estimates that there are about 100m analogue sets still in use in UK homes.

Monday 11 November 2013

The World Loves Smartphones

Explosive development of mobile broadband
Smartphones is driving the mobile net developments and is expanding the platforms for media including radio.
- The number of mobile subscriptions worldwide has grown approximately 
7 percent year-on-year during Q3 2013. The number of mobile broadband subscriptions grew even faster over this period – at a rate of 40 percent year-on-year, exceeding 2 billion in 2013. The number of mobile subscriptions will be tenfold by 2019 increasing to 9,3 billion and of this 5,6 billion will be smartphones as Ericsson forecasts in a report.

Monday 28 October 2013

Community Radio Makes Its Stand for FM Radio in Brussels

A statement to the European Commission is issued by the two pan-european community radio organizations against an FM switch-off. For a future transition DRM+ is the preferred digital alternative to DAB+

CMFE and Amarc Europe were invited to contribute a meeting in Brussels of  the "Working Group on Communications Broadcast Issues (CBISS)", part of Communications Committee (COCOM) of the European Commission, Directorate-General for Communications Networks.

Sunday 22 September 2013

Radio in Smartphones Will Kill DAB

The mobile phone will become the major radio listening device - but without DAB+
Today, mobile phone are with most people in the world. It is becoming the most common radio receiver also in developing countries as in India and in Africa. You are listening via the built-in FM-receiver which can be found in quite stripped down devices as well as in more advanced smartphones as Samsung S-series and Nokia Lumia - or you are listening via streaming audio on the Internet.

However,  there are no mobile phones with built-in DAB-receivers on any market even not in DAB-established countries as Denmark and the UK. 

Saturday 21 September 2013

Impatience and Skepticism Over DAB at Radio Day Debate

One public broadcasting boss is skeptical regarding DAB+
The commercial sector wants government funding to go DAB+

At the yearly Radio Day in Stockholm a recurrent event is the discussion between the managing directors of the four biggest radio broadcasters; the two public service companies Sveriges Radio (SR) and the Educational Broadcaster UR and the two commercial broadcasters; MTG radio and SBS Discovery.
Impatience and frustration over the slow political process regarding the formal introduction of DAB radio was observed. A government co-ordinator will report on the process not until November next year.

Saturday 20 July 2013

EU Ruling Will Stop State Aid to DAB Radio

DTT operators must pay back incompatible subsidies
The European Commission has concluded that a Spanish €260 million scheme to finance the digitisation and extension of the terrestrial television network in remote areas of Spain was incompatible with EU State aid rules. The measure favours the terrestrial digital technology to the detriment of others. The operators of terrestrial platforms received a selective advantage over their competitors using other technologies and therefore have to pay it back to the Spanish taxpayer.

This decision strongly indicates that any similar state aid scheme for the DAB radio platform also will be contested by the Commission. Especially as there are also competing technical system as DRM+, HD Radio and DVB-T.

Thursday 18 July 2013

French Riviera DRM+ To Be Presented

Since the government stopped DAB+ for public service interest for the less costly digital system DRM+ is increasing. This has lead to new trials on different frequency bands and involving also commercial and community broadcasters. The Telecom Bretagne University, supported by the Region of Brittany, recently held a scientific trial in Brest in band II (FM) using a 300 W transmitter; while community radio Agora Cote d'Azur FM, near Nice, is at present conducting a test in band I at 60 MHz. 

Friday 28 June 2013

DAB Proposal Facing Negative Press Opinion

A headless radio adventure
The Swedish Government's proposal to allow public service radio to go DAB+ and "switch-off" FM 2022 has met an indifferent or a very negative response in Swedish newspaper editorials and op-eds. It is very difficultnot possible to find any supportive opinion regarding the choice of the DAB-system in media. Here is some opinion.

Have you ever heard of the shift from 3G to 4G and around the corner the 5G technology? The transition from FM to the web will manage for itself when times come. But to scrap FM in order to force everyone to buy a DAB receiver is headless writes chief editor Christian Dahlgren in Corren major daily in Norrköping.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Digital Radio in the FM Band

DRM+ tests in France and Norway presented
At the DRM Consortium webinar (seminary on the net) DRM: The Flexible Way from FM to Digital the recent tests of DRM+ in France (Brittany and the Riviera) and Norway (Trondheim) on FM frequencies were presented in detail.  

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.

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Commercial Radio Leaving German DAB+

Lounge.FM the Austrian broadcasting network operating also in Germany has been broadcasting in the national German DAB+ multiplex since 2011. Lounge.FM will now give up DAB+ because of the uncertain financial outlook regarding DAB+ in Germany. Lounge.FM will continue to broadcast for Germany on Internet. In Austria Lounge.FM is broadcasting on FM and via cable.

Thursday 23 May 2013

No farewell to FM in Denmark

DAB opens for commercial radio
Digital radio listening in Denmark has grown. However, an expert warns that the progress is too slow and there will be no farewell to FM 2019. Figures show that 16 % av all public service radio listening is digital i.e. DAB and Internet. Commercial radio on DAB is still unmeasurable.

Friday 17 May 2013

Feeble Development for DAB in the UK

Mobile phone listening on sharp increase - leaving DAB behind
According to latest Rajar report for the first quarter of 2013 digital radio listening is 34,3 % up from 29,2 % Q1 2012.  Digital listening is mostly DAB but also via digital television and via Internet. Of total radio listening DAB is 22,5 % which is a surprisingly low level considering that DAB was introduced in the UK 18 years ago.

Friday 3 May 2013

First Digital Broadcast on FM in Norway

Tuning in the DRM+ signal in
Norway (click to zoom in)
Radio Metro: The benefits are superior
Preparations are now on its way for the first test broadcasts with the digital technology DRM+ on a FM frequency in Norway. With some state funding the commercial local station Radio Metro in Trondheim will broadcast on 94,0 MHz.
The Norwegian telecom authority has shown great interest for the project. 

Sunday 7 April 2013

Demise of DTT a Threat to DAB Radio

Demise of digital terrestrial television might become a serious problem for terrestrial radio stations.
An article published by EBU Technical review looks at the prospects for DVB-T and DVB-T2 in Germany, in view of the fact that the future of classical terrestrial TV broadcasting in the country is under discussion and that it may even be terminated before the end of the decade. The article also identifies solutions for media delivery to portable and mobile terminals such as in-car receivers or Tablet PCs which no longer rely on classical terrestrial broadcasting.

Thursday 4 April 2013

AM/FM Radio Continued Standard in U.S. Cars

No progress for on-air digital radio
AM/FM radio continues to be “the king of all media” in the car, but expect smartphone connectivity to grow in-vehicle, according to Arbitron SVP Marketing. AM/FM radio leads over other in-car audio options at 84% of drivers who had “ever” used this option, compared to 63% who used a CD player and 29% who used an iPod/MP3 player. Fifteen percent said they listened to satellite radio, followed by online radio at 12% and digital HD Radio at 3%.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Internet to replace terrestrial platform

Germany may give up on digital terrestrial television
The withdrawal by private German free-to-air commercial broadcaster RTL from digital terrestrial could be followed by more widespread rejection of DTT across the country. This warning came from Ulrich Reimers, a leading broadcasting expert and author from the Technical University in Braunschweig.

Thursday 14 March 2013

Digital Radio shortfall down under

There is a problem with the rollout of digital radio (DAB+) in Australia. Community radio, listened to by a quarter of Australian radio listeners, and providing content generally unshackled by commercial interests will be struggling to keep up with the costs to move to the digital age.  Funding of A$3.6 million (2,8 milliion euro)  per year is required to maintain a digital radio infrastructure for the 37 metropolitan community radio stations that hold digital licenses.

Tuesday 12 March 2013

DRM Jockeyed Out of Radio Days Conference in Berlin

Radio Days Europe is an annual event for the European radio broadcasters to be held in Berlin March 17-19. This time an interest for digital radio issues was quite anticipated, especially DAB and DRM as well as the proposed switch-off of analogue FM. Now the DRM Consortium has withdrawn its participation and will not even be present for the connecting exhibition.

Monday 11 March 2013

Fiasco for Local DAB in Norway

Lobby organisation for DAB got four local blocks
Trondheim, the third largest city in Norway, is now without local commercial radio. Only non-commercial community radio on FM is local. There were one three so-called qualified bidders for 8 local DAB blocks at the auction March 7 but no local interests at all. SBS Radio got one concession and A-Media another. Four concessions including the Oslo multiplex went to Digitalradio Norway which is the lobby organisation for DAB in Norway. Two local blocks were without any bidders.

23 out of 37 local DAB blocks still are without concessions. 31 % of the Norwegians listen to radio via digital platforms but this includes also Internet and television network (DVB-T2).

Thursday 28 February 2013

Digital Local Radio Wants More Government Funding

The Community Broadcasting Association of Australia has launched a campaign Commit to Community Radio which they hope will motivate the government for $1.4 million (€1,1m) in additional funding for digital community radio over four years. Community radio in Australia is broadcasting on FM but with initial government funding of $11,1 million (€8,7m) 2008-2012 now also in the DAB+ structure in metropolitan areas. But to be able to continue with DAB more outside funding is needed.

Monday 25 February 2013

European recommendation: DRM+ for Brazil

Brazil is now considering the choice of digital radio system; the American HD Radio or the European DRM+. As there are more than 4.000 community radio FM stations in the country the choice for small-scale broadcasting is very crucial. In a detailed letter to the Brazilian Ministry of Communications the two pan-European community radio organisations Community Media Forum Europe and AMARC-Europe strongly recommend the choice of DRM+ for community radio in Brazil as well in other parts of the world. 

Read the complete news item
European Community Radio: DRM+ Choice for Brazil 

Sunday 24 February 2013

Gloomy prospects for DAB in Sweden

Consultation without convincing support
The government consultation regarding the proposals of 2012 Public service commission generated a total of 131 responses to the Ministry of Culture. The proposal to let the public service radio company get financing in order to go DAB+ and closing the FM band were commented upon by one fourth of the responses. Only four respondents have observed that it is not only a case of “digital radio” but also establishing a new broadcasting system in a separate new frequency band besides the FM band.

Reviewing the responses closely and weighing in competence related to the issue the government could hardly justify funding or supporting the public service radio to establish a DAB-system as well as trying to close the FM band.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Government funds DRM+ development in Norway

The Norwegian Media Authority has granted 21st Venture A/S, a South-African company which runs commercial radio Radio Metro i Oslo and other cities 25.340 euro for development of DRM+. Radio Metro will broadcast DRM+ on a FM frequency in Trondheim Spring 2013. Broadcasts will coordinate with the Annual Conference of the Norwegian Local Radio Association May 24-26.

Friday 15 February 2013

EBU Recommending DAB and DRM

The European Broadcasting Union, the organisation of public service broadcasters, has launched a new technical Recommendation at the Digital Radio Summit, confident that it will bring added impetus to the rollout of digital radio services across Europe. Recommendation R 138, representing the first agreement among EBU Members on digital radio distribution, was approved by the EBU Technical Committee last week.

EU Investing €700 Million in 5G

1,000 times increase in wireless capacity will also benefit distribution of radio and television
The European Commission will invest €700 million in 5G research and development in a bid to improve the competitiveness of the region’s mobile communications industry. The plans form part of the Horizon 2020 program, which will see a total of €6.2 billion injected into eight Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in areas deemed to be of strategic importance to Europe. The goal of the 5G PPP will be to provide advances including a 1,000 times increase in wireless capacity serving more than seven billion people and the creation of a secure and dependable internet with “zero perceived downtime for services”.

Monday 11 February 2013

DAB not for local radio in Norway

Local radio spokesman: DAB is becoming a redundant technology
In Norway the media and telecom authorities have issued permits for local radio in 9 out of 37 regions allocated for local DAB broadcasting. But there was only one application per region and a total of six companies/organisations including “Digital Norge” which is the DAB promoting organisation. In 8 other regions there were more than one application and here there will be an auction March 7.

Slow uptake for DAB in Denmark and Norway

Denmark and Norway are on the official level the two most enthusiastic countries in the Western European DAB family. A survey by TNS Gallup now shows that thos picture of enthusiasm is not shared by the Norwegian households. 31 percent now listen to radio via digital platforms of different kinds as Internetradio via computer, pads and mobile phones, digital-tv (DVB-T2) and DAB.

Thursday 7 February 2013

DAB not obvious for public service

Two of three public service companies see problems and risks with digital radio

Sweden has three public service companies; for radio, for television and for educational radio/tv. In the government’s public service consultation Sveriges Television (SVT) and Utbildningsradion (UR) see advantages with digital radio for Sveriges Radio (SR) but are cautious of economy and technical solutions. The companies position themselves skeptical to the proposal by the public service commission.

Tuesday 5 February 2013

EBU report on DRM+ in FM band published

The European Broadcasting Union has published a very comprehensive report which provides the relevant parameters and planning criteria for the implementation of DRM+ in Band II. Two introduction scenarios are dealt with: replacing an existing FM transmission with DRM+ and adding a new DRM+ transmission on a new frequency. Seven Annexes detail planning exercises in Sweden, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Download the full report 

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Telecom Authority In Doubt About DAB

Going for FM together with Internet digital radio in Sweden

In the government consultation about public service the telecom authority Post- och telestyrelsen (PTS) is questioning any extra public service funding for a DAB implementation. Any decision on this cannot be made before there is proof of any demand and need for digital sound broadcasting in Band III (174-240 MHz) in Sweden.  PTS says that the Public service commission is lacking on this; the real demand of the consumers and the need for a digital transition for sound broadcasting.

PTS notes that there are no global standard for digital sound broadcasting. The only global sound broadcasting standard is FM. PTS points out the enormous breakthrough for ip-based technology which includes moving images and sound. PTS regards web based digital radio as an important complement to FM radio.

Friday 25 January 2013

Commercial radio will test DRM+ in Norway

The media authority Medietilsynet has issued a broadcast permit for Radio Metro for test transmissions with DRM+ on Band II (the FM-band) April-June 2013 in Trondheim. The tests will take place in connection to the Norwegian Local Radio Association Annual Meeting and Conference in April in Trondheim.  Radio Metro which is operating on FM in Oslo and some other cities in Norway is owned by the South-African company 21st Venture.

DRM+ tests are also planned for a community radio station in Stockholm, Sweden in April.

Commercial TV opting-out of Digital Terrestrial Television

RTL Deutschland has decided to  terminate its current DVB-T distribution in the country. This will affect terrestrial distribution of RTL, Vox, Super RTL and RTL II and, for Berlin only, n-tv. Terrestrial transmissions will cease on December 31, 2014, with the exception of its broadcasts in Munich, which will already end on May 31, 2013. 

RTL Deutschland said
  the current conditions in Germany prohibit long-term planning, posing a risk to the millions that need to be invested in terrestrial distribution.The broadcaster points out that there are no guarantees that the German federal government will keep the current terrestrial frequency spectrum available for broadcasting beyond 2020.

Sunday 20 January 2013

Council objects to DAB for public service

In a Swedish government consultation the Public Service Council has objected to a commission proposal to support the public service company - Sveriges Radio (SR) - to go DAB with state funding.

The council says that the FM radio is a world standard while DAB is a marginal technology used in a limited number of countries mainly in the richest part of Western Europe. FM Radio is well established in all of the 200 countries in the world.  Against all rumours no nation has yet decided on a “switch-off” date for the FM band.  Adding to this there are more than 30.000 digital radio channels on the Internet. There is no proof that the bandwidth for radio will not be enough.