A major research project led by senior analysts from the Media Intelligence Service (MIS) of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has identified a range of factors central to the successful deployment of terrestrial radio digitization across Europe.
Launch of the ‘Digital Radio Toolkit’ follows a six month-long investigation into the experiences and best practices of the three countries which are leading the launch of digital terrestrial radio in Europe: Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
In all, 30 success factors have been identified across eight areas: institutional structure, policy and regulation, content and offer, technology, switchover process, public communications, consumer electronics and the car industry. Each of these key success factors is illustrated with a specific national best-practice example.
Head of the EBU’s Radio Unit, Dr Christian Vogg says the report is an effective guide for radio stakeholders – whether public or private – who are navigating an unprecedented time of change and competition.
“The digital switchover is not an issue that broadcasters can tackle individually,” said Mr Vogg.“The technological transition has proven to be more challenging than originally imagined. Conflicts and divergence are common among players, so understanding that terrestrial radio cannot remain an 'analogue island' in a digital environment is crucial to achieving effective coordination among all stakeholders. It's about creating win-win situations."
Interviewees repeatedly pointed out that the cornerstone of their whole strategy was ‘competing on content, cooperating in technology.’ This approach enables broadcasters to focus on creating appealing content for audiences in our converging media world.
MIS head, Dr Roberto Suárez Candel says the report, which was comissioned by EBU's radio unit, highlights three main actions:
“Terrestrial radio is the only means through which content can be distributed on a universal basis, free at-the-point of use, which is something that Internet Protocol (IP) cannot guarantee,” said Mr Suárez Candel. "At the same time, it is also the only platform that guarantees the delivery of public service content and its associated democratic values. In its current analogue form, there seems to be no more room for development in most of the European countries.”
The report builds on the EBU’s recommendation on Digital Radio Distribution in Europe (EBU R 138), which suggests the deployment primarily of Digital Audio Broadcasting+ (DAB+) services and, only if DAB coverage is not possible, the use of Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) as a broadcasting alternative.
Dr David Fernández Quijada, who led the research, says the recently published roadmaps for the transition to digital radio in Sweden and Switzerland reinforce the need for clear guidelines.
“Obviously, national contexts are significant to radio markets,” he said. “There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. However countries launching terrestrial digital radio services can build on the experience of pioneers; they can learn what works and what doesn’t, and optimize their efforts and resources by investing in the areas that are critical to success.”
The report is available for download here.