Tuesday 19 February 2019

While Digital Radio Online Grow Rampant DAB Lobby Deceives Politicians

Analysis: DAB will not survive FM and Internet Radio. Norway loser.
Despite 24 unsuccessful years since its launching and the Internet's increasing dominance, lobby interests continue efforts to replace FM with the European system DAB - since 1995. With the exception of the Norwegian NRK, however, broadcasters are realizing that DAB no longer belongs to the future radio landscape. Nowadays, the "digital radio" listening platform today and for the future means online - in Sweden, France, the United States and most other countries. Meanwhile FM, the world broadcast standard, remains strong in 219 countries.

Organizations and people for decades engaged in this "new" technology DAB has now painted in its corner. Will not give up despite the fact that technical and economic facts clearly speak against DAB. Since 1995, a total of 70 million DAB receivers have been sold, but there are estimated to be more than seven billion FM receivers in use worldwide. That these would be replaced by a technology, not asked for by consumers, is not likely. Such a shift would also contribute to an environmental disaster. It is not just radio receivers that should be replaced but also transmitters.

Public service companies together with their own association EBU, however, have run away from reality and consider themselves able to adapt their listeners to their own needs instead of the opposite. These organizations have also become so large and independent that they can be regarded as "a state in the state" and increasingly succeed in setting the agenda for their formal owners, i.e. governments and parliaments. Who is in control of who?

This is particularly evident in Norway, where NRK's ​​Annual General Meeting is the Minister of Culture and her departement, who has so far been unable to answer written questions about sources - outside the DAB lobby. Sources of the facts and analysis provided to the Parliament prior to its decision to replace national FM with DAB. It is therefore not difficult to realize who set the agenda for this internationally unique decision.

WorldDAB and EBU disseminate false and slanted information

DAB in Europe (Acc to EBU)
The lobby organization WorldDAB, which happens to have its legal seat at the same address as the EBU in Geneva, continues to disseminate visions of DAB as the future radio platform. In a current report, the EBU says that DAB exists in 30 countries in the EBU area (which also includes countries in North Africa and the Middle East). But WorldDAB and EBU will not tell you where the LISTENERS are. After all, these are the ones that will determine the survival of a system.
More than 10% DAB listening
Only four countries in the EBU area today have a listening that exceeds 10 percent on a weekly basis; Norway, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Switzerland. Outside Europe, DAB is established only in Australia where even AM and FM are still strong. In addition, there is only one (1) country - Norway - where the main platform for national radio is no longer FM.

DAB networks are already well developed in Germany and the Netherlands, but despite most of the population listening to FM as well as alternative platforms such as the Internet, cable and satellite. In the UK, the old DAB system has not yet even been replaced the updated DAB +. The BBC now wants to keep FM and today prioritize the Internet. DAB is the third platform for radio.

For example Turkey does not become a DAB country merely because of a decade of test transmissions from a tower in Istanbul. Anyone traveling in Spain may have to look in vain for some DAB broadcasts and hardly there is any Spaniard who ever heard about DAB.  In several European countries as in Sweden tests are being broadcast regularly but with very few listeners. EBU's map thus gives a much slanted picture of reality.

The world does not want DAB

The Internet has killed last hopes of global demand for DAB. This can be linked to the fact that 70% of the world's population now has access to mobile phones. This year the number of smartphones in use worldwide is 2,5 billion. This is clearly the alternative listening platform for radio and music streaming. Still the DAB lobby is claiming that Norway now is the world's most modern radio country.

No manufacturer considers the worth of providing smartphones with DAB receiving capabilities. This contingency aspect has sadly never taken into account by the Norwegian DAB visionaries, before switching-off FM, which is considerably more coverage effective than DAB. This is particularily important for Emergency Alert Systems (EAS).
Few of the world's 220 countries today would dream of replacing the world standard FM with DAB.

Norwegian politicians and authorities are in the hands of the lobby

Norwegian radio listeners were forced over from FM to DAB, something they had never asked for. The tragic thing about the Norwegian DAB breakdown is that the traditional radio media might be strangled to death if the DAB lobby succeeds in getting the Parliament to ban FM also for local radio in 2022. To this end, the lobby has revived its decoy "The Norwegian Local Radio Association" in order to interfere with the politicial dialogue for the real organization which represents local radio; the Norwegian Local Radio Association. Another decoy is the "Norsk Radio" which is a new name for Digitalradio Norge (the local lobby organisation for DAB). New name, but same persons and same objective; to get rid of FM in order to secure survival for the DAB tripoly (NRK, Bauer and NENT/MTG).

The resourceful stakeholders are pushing the politicians. The resistance is wide among local radio stakeholders and listeners, but is mainly conducted voluntarily. NRK, which is the country's most important newscaster, is also part of the Norwegian DAB lobby. NRK sets the agenda and will not present any negative facts about the DAB project. It would be politically suicidal.

Although the triopoly are trying to boost the listening figures by switching to another audience measurement company (from Kantar to AC Nielsen), the transition to DAB still is far from success. Just a few of the 30 channels in the national DAB network have more than 10 percent of the listening. Most channels each have one (1) percent or less.

Picture: Oslo daily VG
orway's unique decision to force DAB upon its citizens puzzle many observers. But the authorities duck for critical issues. The Competition Authority has so far refused to review the tours around the anti-competitive measures such as the FM ban in the major cities and secret agreements on the distribution of DAB capacity.

Futile request have been made for the National Audit Office to examine how and why the state has acted for this DAB project. Such a scrutiny might get rid of the rumours of corruption, system errors or incompetence that are increasingly circulating in the debate. That the DAB network does not work as well as the previous FM network with poor or unstable reception is antagonizing the listeners. All over Norway.

Norway and Sweden close neighbours but far apart regarding future radio

In Sweden, the National Audit Office made a thorough investigation before the Parliament unanimously decided in 2016 not to replace FM with DAB. This third attempt to introduce Swedish radio listeners to an obsolete broadcast system was considered by many as to be the last. But the European DAB lobby continues to exert undue influence on certain politicians and officials in the two dominant parties - the Social Democrats and the Conservatives - in the Riksdag. The lobby is now trying to stop the recent investigation proposal to hand over the frequency space allocated for DAB radio in VHF band III for defense communication needs. The proposal if accepted would mean, as before in Finland, a definite end to any DAB projects in Sweden.

Swedish politicians should learn from Norway where the Social Democrats and the Conservative Party are the most to blame for having let the Storting be deceived by a lobby with fixers for more than a decade, both within and outside NRK. As citizens' confidence in their public service company drops. Swedish politicians are happy to tell their Norwegian colleagues that in Sweden they also listened to their authorities, expertise and others - not only to the lobby - before the decision in 2016.

Many now ask why the government pushed for closing FM in just Norway? Who asked for this, really? It is not just about the survival of broadcast radio but more than that. How sustainable is Norwegian democracy facing attacks and manipulation by resourceful lobbyists?

Read also
Security Policy Proposal in Sweden: DAB Might Lose Its Frequency Space
Half of Norway Turns Its Back on DAB. Now Politicians Are Reconsidering
Parliament Proposal in Norway: FM Radio For Another Ten Years

The Illusions of the DAB Radio World  (PSR)
The Facts Behind the DAB Radio Failure in Sweden (PSR)

Question and Answers about Digital Radio and FM
Crucial technical problems and disadvantages with the DAB system (Overview 2018)
Norwegian Radio Listeners Association (NRLF) (in Norwegian)
Norwegian Local Radio Association (in Norwegian) for local commercial and community radio