Digital distribution has been an issue for the radio industry for about two decades. While digital is a reality for platforms such as the Internet, mobile devices and even TV, radio remains analogue in the most cost-effective and primary distribution platform for free-toair services, terrestrial broadcasting.
To build the case for digital radio, the EBU’s Radio Unit commissioned the Media Intelligence Service to examine the key success factors for radio digitization. Entitled the Digital Radio Toolkit, the research was carried out with the collaboration of various radio industry stakeholders (see annexe) and this report details the results.
This project builds on the EBU’s Recommendation on Digital Radio Distribution in Europe (EBU R 138), which suggests the deployment primarily of DAB+ services and, only if DAB coverage is not possible, the use of DRM as a broadcasting alternative. As a further step, this report offers guidelines on how to launch digital terrestrial radio, based on the experiences at the three countries leading this process in Europe: Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
The report focuses on good practices for introducing digital radio; however, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Consequently, it describes various ways to handle the main digitization issues by highlighting 30 factors that contribute to positive acceptance of digital radio by listeners. Each of these key success factors is illustrated with a specific national example.
Obviously, national contexts are significant in the radio market. General social conditions such as each country’s wealth or its citizens’ ICT awareness affect the uptake of digital radio. Other specific issues play an important role, such as the level and nature of competition, the relative strength of public service media organizations, the co-existence and share of national, regional or local networks and stations, the size of the advertising market, or policies and regulations. Even taking into account the specificities of each national context, the experiences analysed in this report can be helpful when introducing national policies and broadcasting strategies for launching digital radio.