Wednesday 16 December 2015

Danish Report: DAB Radio Will Not Replace FM in The Near Future

Digital radio is increasingly the Internet. Will DAB be scrapped?
There are no prospects that digital radio in the foreseeable future will match the wide spread of FM radio in Denmark today. In six years, at least half the radio listening will still be on FM. This is evidenced in a market research report from the Media Authority now out for consultation.
Is the fixed line telephone on the way back? No, and niether is DAB. This should have been asked by the politicians, when they in the spring of 2015 was about to decide to put a very tight deadline to switch off FM favor of DAB. Had they done so, it would have been almost as it is also thought that fixed line phone was to replace the mobile phone, said John R. Kristensen, president of the copyright organization Gramex to Berlingske Business. He says that the report clearly indicated that the DAB technology is not adopted by the consumers.

Here are the various platforms for distribution of radio in Denmark:

A forecast based on the public service radio projections show that 47.0% of Danes in 2021 will still listen to FM, 24.8% via DAB, 19.0% over the net and 9.2% on cable and satellite.

The 149-page study is the result of a parliament agreement on the Media Agreement 2015-2018 in April. Politicians wanted a better factual basis how the future of digital radio listening before taking any decision to close FM. New factors come to include: the sharp rise of the digital listening online. The report notes that there are no DAB chips in mobile phones or pads. Moreover few new cars are delivered with DAB radio in Denmark; only one of the top twenty on the Top Ten of the cars sold is DAB equipped.

Media expert Carsten Corneliussen reminds in his  analysis of what the report actually would show:
1) If the FM network will be switched off - and if so, when? It is a political premise. 
2) If the DAB / DAB + will provide a future stand-alone infrastructure for broadcasting - or the Internet will become the universal distribution platform for all the radio and television broadcast today. It is a technical premise. 
3) whether and how existing and future investments in the overall Danish digital infrastructure is best used in a social perspective. It is therefore a necessary framework conditions for an industry in transition.
Corneliussen writes that the report does not give explicit answers to these questions, but it is reasonable to conclude that technical progress clearly moving towards a single universal distribution platform with streaming and on-demand as a driving force.

Professor Knud Erik Skouby, Center for Communication, Media and Information Technologies at Aalborg University, has served on the commission's reference group. He has been an advocate of a total DAB transition, but the reality is different now, he says. The best and only argument for DAB is possibility for more services, but this is to say the least also advantages on the web. This one reason why the Swedes have set DAB on the break, says Skouby to Politiken.

The consultation period for the report ends 29 January 2016 when the issue will be debated in the parliament (Folketinget). Until then Minister of Culture Bertel Haarder will not make any comment on the issue.

Denmark started testing DAB in 1995 and the public service radio went on air with DAB in 2002.  Presently there is a step-by-step transition from DAB to DAB+.  Norway plans to switch-off FM for national channels 2017, but Finland and Sweden has rejected any transition from FM to DAB/DAB+.

Download the complete report (in Danish)
Will Denmark Ever Go From DAB to DAB+