Thursday, September 20, 2012

IRF: Future of Swiss radio is DAB

The next generation radio in Europe will witness the switch from FM to Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) by treating content as king and creating the same radio experience over different emerging platforms due to advancements in digital technology. 

The session ‘Future of Swiss Radio’ at the International Radio Festival in Zurich explored the advantages of DAB technology in the medium and the possible opportunities in view of its successful implementation in the country.The session was conducted by European Broadcast Union technical activities incharge Mathias Coinchon. 

Driven by the offer of new channels and many more programmes, the only reason DAB was avoided earlier was due to high cost which proved unaffordable for smaller stations. But now DAB is all set to replace the AM space in the country and the future of radio is set on internet, mobile and mobile TV. 

Talking about the implementation of DAB, Coinchon said, “DAB has been deployed already in countries like UK, Germany, Norway and Denmark. There are already 20 percent listeners on the technology and about one million receivers have been sold in Switzerland with AM being phased out. UK and Norway will also phase out FM if they reach about 50 per cent of listenership on DAB as the FM network in the countries is not very good.” 

With the AM and FM space gradually disappearing from the forefront, broadband internet, WiFi radio, smartphone radio apps and online music platforms have been widely deployed all over and have become the new way to discover music. DAB has been widely integrated in cars and various mobile handsets through chips specially created for it. 

New forms of radio like Radio Vis and Radio Tag have dominated the market now. Radio Vis is a form of visual radio allowing slideshows on mobile handsets where ads or program related information can be synced with audio and played. Radio Tag is all about bookmarking and interaction where you can bookmark your content to browse later by pairing the radio device with a broadcast server. It helps in bringing the interaction of social media platforms to radio easily. 

“We are now trying to create DAB broadcast at a lower cost since radio has become a multiplatform where the era of exclusive coverage is over. It’s still difficult to obtain new licenses but anyone can start an internet radio so you have to try and protect your market,” he asserted. 

The session also highlighted the advantages of DAB which were listed as free to air, lower distribution cost per program and flexibility for new programs amongst others. 

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