Experts at Czech Radio have unveiled a roadmap to guide the country's journey to digital radio output (DAB/DAB+).
The plan identifies appropriate legislation, national coordination, adequate financing, private sector engagement, support for quality content and new services, a solid information and marketing campaign and statutory support for DAB receivers as the 7 steps toward digital broadcasting in the Czech Republic.
The major metropolitan areas – Prague, Brno, Ostrava and Plzeň - will be covered during pilot digital transmissions during the first phase between 2015 and 2017.
Regular digital broadcasting, including regular service of all nationwide stations, special digital programmes and projects, will be rolled out from 2017. Regional broadcasting will follow shortly afterwards, depending on relevant technical conditions and frequency specifications.The switching-off of analogue broadcasting would then finally mark the end of the transition process. This should occur no later than 2025 on condition that all Czech Radio programmes go fully digital.
The organisation will broadcast the stations D-dur, Radio Wave, Plus, Rádio Junior, Jazz, Rádio Retro and a special Sport service. Czech Radio will this year also show its commitment to going digital by launching an experimental digital radio service for Prague - the capital itself - which will reach 10 to 15 per cent of the national population.
Czech Radio's roadmap to digital broadcasting was presented at an open seminar in the national parliament in Prague, attended by members of the public, industry professionals and parliamentarians. Experts from Swedish Radio and Norwegian broadcaster NRK were also present.
Peter Duhan, the Director General of Czech Radio, told attendees the future of radio broadcasting depends on the transition to DAB: "This process will enable us to provide our listeners with more varied content and services, to enhance the quality of audio transmission and to ensure the further development of radio broadcasting. As a public service medium, Czech Radio has been, and will be, at the helm of the digitisation process."
Current projects, Mr Duhan added, clearly demonstrate that Czech Radio is ready to go digital: "Czech Radio currently operates several special digital stations and is preparing several future projects that will support the development of digital broadcasting. However, the transition to DAB will above all require support from the state, implementation of the appropriate legislation, solving of the issue of simultaneous analogue and digital broadcasting and coordination of our services with the private sector."
Digital terrestrial radio in Europe is constantly growing, notes EBU Head of Radio Christian Vogg. "In some countries we’ve already passed the point of no return. The clear strategy of Czech Radio, which will result in a national roadmap supported by the major stakeholders in the Czech Republic, is a very good sign for related industries and listeners. The EBU is happy to help its members with benchmarking, exchanging examples of best-practice and lobbying.”