DAB+, hybrid radio and European digitalization strategies were 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.
Addressing general directors of the biggest European public service media (PSM), WorldDAB and the car industry, Stanisławczyk-Żyła pointed out that despite the key problems that Polskie Radio faces - lack of national digitalization strategy, reluctance of commercial broadcasters and high costs of simulcasting – she had no intention to withdraw hastily from the digitalization process and to destroy what has been already achieved.
“We meet today to look together for the best solution and if we can find a compromise or agreement, I would be happy,” said Stanisławczyk-Żyła. “We also need support from the car industry. The majority of listeners tune in their radios in cars. Why are the car producers of Poland not eager to install DAB+ receivers?”, she asked.
The conference heard a range of views about DAB from fast adopting countries such as Switzerland, Germany and the UK and also from those which are less advanced including Hungary and Moldova.
Graham Dixon, the EBU’s Head of Radio, pointed to the weakness of internet radio as a secure means of receiving radio, and strongly argued that the future of radio is DAB+, agreeing with the consensus that the ultimate position is some form of hybrid strategy, combining the flexibility of the internet with the solidity of broadcast.
Graham Ellis, Deputy Radio Director at BBC and Head of the EBU’s Radio Committee took note of the considerable differences in experiences presented by speakers from Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary and those representing the UK, Germany or Switzerland. He stressed the imperative need for actions at national level, as well as for strategies, regulations and cooperation between public and commercial broadcasters with the government. Without such joint efforts and national agreement there is little chance for developing DAB+.
On a positive note, the Chair of European Digital Radio Alliance, Helen Boaden, highlighted the success of the United Kingdom in embracing DAB+. She told the Forum there is a 20-year-old agreement among PSM, commercial radio and the government concerning DAB+ broadcasting. 45% of listeners in the UK use digital radio and 85% of cars have DAB+ receivers. The development of hybrid radio especially for mobile phones is also a top priority. “The key issue, that we are now working on in the UK”, she said, “is to improve the signal quality while reducing data collection and thus the cost of using mobile phones.
Thanking all the participants, Dr. Barbara Stanisławczyk-Żyła voiced deep conviction that the Forum has been the first step in discussing the future of radio in Europe and preparing society for the introduction new digital technology.