Digital Radio

What is at stake?

Terrestrial radio broadcasting must make the switchover from analogue to digital to keep up with consumer demand and expectations. Digital audio broadcasting (DAB), especially in its upgraded version DAB+, is a green technology that offers many benefits. Broadcasters can save up to 90% of their distribution costs while having up to five times more channels on air because DAB makes more efficient use of spectrum. At the same time it is crucial for broadcasters, and society as a whole, to keep a reliable and cheap network alongside the internet.

Consumers enjoy better sound, a wider choice of radio stations, easy tuning and new features like text information and other multimedia content. This comes without additional reception costs, and modern digital radio devices consume less energy than today's radios.

Industries will also benefit from digital radio, be it with the equipment of connected cars, or with new business models arising via the combination of broadcast and broadband. However industry seeks to have one European standard only - which is a strong reason to lobby for DAB+.

Governments see the advantages of digital radio in enhanced traffic security and as an emergency warning system. But public transport and any other logistical business can also benefit from the cheap distribution of real-time information via DAB+.

The EBU is a founding member of the European Digital Radio Alliance.

More information on digital radio technical recommendations can be found on the Digital Radio page on

Contact details

Graham Dixon
Head of Radio
+41 22 717 2178
Mathias Coinchon
Senior Project Manager


Digital radio initiative objectives

With our digital radio initiative, we wish to:

  • Broaden understanding of digital radio as a benefit to society
  • Encourage and support the rollout of European digital terrestrial radio networks
  • Encourage the development of new radio services and business models
  • Support DAB+, a European technology and standard
    • Implementation of DAB+ as a minimum requirement in European traffic information standards
    • Agreement on an European emergency warning standard based on DAB+
    • DAB+ as standard in all new cars in Europe
  • Ensure a hybrid broadcast and broadband future for radio and commitment of all major European broadcasters to digital hybrid radio including specific content produced for digital
  • Support the creation of realistic switchover scenarios

Free-to-air radio for everyone with 'Smart Radio' on all devices

Our Smart Radio initiative promotes free-to-air radio on all mobile devices, especially on smartphones. Started in Europe, the campaign calls for broadcast-equipped smartphones worldwide, and cooperates closely with the Universal Smart-Phone initiative, started in the UK.

Having FM and DAB/DAB+ chips implemented ensures a smooth transition from analogue to digital radio. It also promotes a complementary hybrid environment where broadcasters and broadband suppliers work together to deliver multimedia content to consumers; this includes new business models as well.

What is digital radio?

While the term 'digital radio' refers to all digital platforms that allow listeners to access radio services, in Europe it generally refers to two families of terrestrial broadcasting: digital audio broadcasting (DAB) family, which includes DAB and DAB+, and the digital radio mondiale (DRM) family, which includes DRM and DRM+.

Beside these, there are other digital systems not specifically designed for radio that can be used to transport audio (eg a TV satellite multiplex). Internet radio is also to be considered as part of a hybrid broadcast/broadband approach.

Who is involved with the Smart Radio initiative?

We launched Smart Radio (formerly known as Euro-Chip) together with the heads of public service radio in France, French-speaking Belgium, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom all signing the memorandum of understanding. Commercial broadcasters have also been part of the conversation from the outset. More are joining, and we are already in talks with carmakers, mobile phone and device manufacturers, chipset manufacturers and network operators.

Further information from our partners

WorldDAB is the global industry forum for digital radio, facilitating the adoption and implementation of broadcast digital radio based on DAB, DAB+ and DMB, the digital radio standards of choice for broadcasters across Europe, Asia Pacific and other regions.

RadioDNS provides the DNS lookup in a hybrid radio environment which enables additional services and applications to be built. The consortium promotes a set of open standards to enhance the listening experience.

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09 NOVEMBER 2016

EBU Head of Radio Graham Dixon asks ‘Who are the Gatekeepers?’

Speaking at the WorldDAB General Assembly, Dixon encouraged the audience to reflect on information sources in the 21st Century.

18 OCTOBER 2016

European Radio Forum spotlights future of digital and hybrid radio

DAB+, hybrid radio and European digitalization strategies on the agenda at the European Radio Forum held at the invitation of Dr. Barbara Stanisławczyk-Żyła, President of the Board and Editor-in-Chief of Polskie Radio in Krakow on 6 October.

13 May 2016
Digital Radio Measurement
An introduction to measuring digital radio listening, including an overview of possible measurement methods (electronic, diary and day-after recall)
11 May 2016
Speech at the World DAB Automotive Event
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a pleasure to be here in Brussels this morning in a city which has seen much turmoil and pain in recent months but remains one of the great civilised and civilising cities of...