Speakers at the EBU's Media Lunchtime Talk on Digital Radio clearly showed why moving towards digital radio is good for audiences and broadcasters alike, but also pointed at the obstacles and challenges.
"Radio is the most trusted source of information by audiences and is free-to-air. It is part of the move towards digital and should therefore not be neglected by the EU's Digital Single Market strategy", said EBU Head of European Affairs Nicola Frank to launch the discussion.
EBU Head of Radio Graham Dixon followed up by reminding participants about the importance of free-to-air access to radio in the citizens' everyday lives. "Radio gives valuable information for life and involves people in current discussions. An increasingly mobile population needs reliable access to information without requiring a subscription. "
Mr. Dixon added: "The launch of new channels on FM is almost impossible, but digital radio can support more development. With EU Member States moving at different speeds towards digital radio, what we need is a European approach to ensure that DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) and FM are available on all devices."
BBC Director of Radio Helen Boaden looked back on a 'long journey' of 20 years for digital radio in the UK and the work achieved by the European Digital Radio Alliance, which she chairs. She said: "Our aim is to strengthen both public and private radio by giving audiences more choice and lowering distribution costs for broadcasters. The move towards digital radio must be led by the audience."
Reviewing the success of 'digital only' radio channels launched by the BBC, like Radio 6 Music which reaches 2 million listeners every week, she noted: "Once audiences start using DAB, they do not turn back to FM", before adding: "DAB is also a backbone to develop IP-based radio delivery. We need hybrid solutions combining IP with DAB and FM, in particular for mobile phones."
Czech Radio Director Rene Zavoral presented the current status of digital radio in the Czech Republic. "We need a clear government strategy and we need commercial broadcasters to be convinced that digital radio is the future", he said, highlighting that "DAB is about new services for listeners."
Ensuring that digital radio is available in cars is another key challenge, as shown by Michael Reichert, who is in charge of Future Radio development at ARD/BR. "New radios sold in stores are all digital now; it is important that digital radio is available in all new cars also, but today it is often optional. We are working with the car industry to take this forward."
The EBU Brussels Office regularly hosts Media Lunchtime Talks on important developments in the world of media on issues ranging from freedom of the media to media distribution, bringing together EBU members, key stakeholders and EU policy makers. If you are interested in learning more about these events or would like to propose themes for future events, feel free to contact the EBU Brussels Office.
Location: EBU Brussels Office - Avenue des Arts 56 1000 Brussels
Date: 12 Oct 2016
Register by: 07 Oct 2016
Working Languages: English
EBU Brussels Office
Avenue des Arts 56,