Tuesday 28 August 2018

Heavy Lobbying Behind DAB Radio EU Proposal

Norwegians are going for DAB success in Oslo and Brussels
Being a small country and not an EU member it is notable how Norway is involved in European DAB-promoting in Brussels. And two Norwegians companies will put their hopes to the latest proposal (see separate story below) to the European Parliament which is the outcome of many years of aggressive lobbying. The most powerful resources regarding DAB comes from the EBU. For more than 8 years the EBU office in Brussels has an annual budget officially at 1-1,2 million euro. 

WorldDAB, which is an offspring of the EBU has also been very active here for more than two years. In March 2018 the WorldDAB lobbyist in Brussels Ms Katarzyna Wilk has been in meeting with Eric Peters at the Commission regarding the EECC. Prior to this Ms Wilk has met other officials at the Commission regarding DAB.

Other organisations with lobbying activities regarding DAB are the Belgian public broadcasters RTBF and VRT. Jean-Paul Philippot head of RTBF is with his consultant Francis Goffin the principal supporter of DAB+. They have persuaded the government that RTBF will carry the transmission of the DAB+ commercial radio networks alongside with the public service radios.

Philippot is very well introduced to the EU Parliament and is also President of the EBU. Goffin is on the steering board of WorldDAB since 2013 and co-founder of another EBU lobbying body for DAB the European Digital Radio Alliance (EDRA).

An important player in Brussels regarding DAB is the Norwegian broadcast provider Norkring AS. Together with the public broadcaster NRK Norkring is the main promoter of DAB in Norway.

Norkring AS promotes itself as a worldwide leader in transmission and broadcast services.
However, Norkring’s sole foreign operation today is the majority owned Belgian subsidiary which is running radio and television transmitter network in Brussels and Flandern. Only two persons are in the board of Norkring Belgium; the Norwegians Torbjørn Ø. Teigen (chair) and Christian Skottun.

Norkring is an active part of the Brussels lobbying directly and indirectly. In its promotion for DAB Chief Sales & Marketing Officer of Norkring Dominique Lievyns hopefully states there are lessons learned:
- No free lunch for the radios, DAB+ comes on top of FM
- Less understanding of politics, lot of influencers
- Big players own the “national” FM band and will lobby that way...
- It can only work if all concerned radios are obliged to move to DAB+
- Need of a global approach for a rapid transition to DAB+

There are also Norwegians in the WorldDAB board; Ole J Torvmark (Digitalradio Norge AS) and Jørn Jensen (NRK). Also Norkring is a member of this lobby organisation. On top of this the Norwegian company Sahaga is now starting a sales push for its Pop DAB receiver in the Benelux countries.

For the Brussels DAB lobby complex it will be decisive with a successful roll-out of DAB in Belgium and Norway. Especially being close to the EU commission and parliament in Brussels. The resistane is feeble because there are no FM lobbying organisations.
The voices of thousands of community radio and smaller local commercial radio stations are not heard in Brussels.

However, the looming fiasco for DAB in Norway might not increase opportunities for Norkring on an envisaged global market. Still, Norway is the only country in the world which has switched off its national FM network.

Also read
The Impossible Mission: A Global Future for DAB Radio
The Illusions of the DAB Radio World
Why DAB Radio in Norway, But Not in Sweden?
DAB Scandal in Norway: License Fees Fund Guarantee for Private Radio
FM Switch-off in Norway Might Violate European Free Trade Rules