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.

One way of looking at Dynamic Broadcast is to assume that classical terrestrial broadcasting exists in a country and that the pressure on spectrum requires new approaches to the optimized allocation of spectrum in such a way that, from the point of view of the TV audience, the traditional broadcast experience remains unchanged whereas the pressure on TV spectrum is reduced by dynamically offering this spectrum to secondary users. But what if classical terrestrial broadcasting is terminated?

RTL group – one of the two leading commercial TV broadcasting organizations in Germany – has announced that they will stop broadcasting their four currently-available programmes via DVB-T from January 2015. In regions where their existing contracts with the broadcast network operator ends earlier, they will stop distributing their programmes via DVB-T accordingly. RTL mentions two reasons for this decision: (i) the commercial viability of classical terrestrial broadcast no longer exists and (ii) they are afraid that, in Germany, the long-term availability of spectrum is not guaranteed.

The consequences of this decision by RTL seem to be easily predictable:
1) DVB-T2 will not be introduced;
2) as soon as the RTL programmes disappear, the affected audience will start to move away fromDVB-T;
3) the use of cable, satellite and IPTV networks will increase;
4) the percentage of households relying on DVB-T will drop to levels which have been explained earlier in this article for those federal states which already today lack commercial TV programmes in the DVB-T networks;
5) a discussion will start about the economic viability of the remaining terrestrial TV services since an audience share of just a few percent will raise the question of economic viability even for the public broadcasters ARD and ZDF;
6) as a consequence, DVB-T will be switched off eventually;
7) terrestrial radio stations will have a serious problem in financing the broadcast infrastructure, such as transmitting stations with their towers and masts, since they will have to carry the full costs alone;
8) the only way of distributing video content to portable and mobile devices will be through Wi-Fi, cellular networks or via yet-to-be-developed technologies.

Read the full story DTT Quo Vadis — Germany as a case study by Prof. Ulrich H. Reimers (Technische Universitaet Braunschweig).