Digital Radio

Helps Members in the process of moving from analogue to digital radio platforms.


Digital Radio

Digital Radio is a means of delivery radio services using digital encoding. It includes the delivery of radio via digital broadcasting technology (like DAB/DAB+) and the streaming of radio services over the internet.

The EBU considers only two standards for the introduction of digital radio. As stated in EBU's R 118, DAB is the preferred technology, and when DAB coverage is not possible, the EBU recommends to use DRM.



The DAB family is characterized by a common transmission system, robust for mobile applications and with a capacity for transporting many programmes. This multiplex approach, with a "bouquet" or "package" of programmes, is specially suitable for public broadcasters and private radio groups, allowing them to simultaneously broadcast all their programmes within a single network. DAB+ uses MPEG-4 HE-AACv2 audio. It is generally possible to transport 12-18 programmes in a multiplex, but again this will vary depending on the audio quality objectives and multimedia features. The DAB transmission system is the preferred platform in Europe for the transport of  TPEG services for road traffic and travel information.



When DAB coverage is not possible, EBU recommends DRM. The Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) system has been designed as a replacement solution for AM bands (LW, MW, SW) offering a better audio quality and easy tuning while keeping the advantage of a large coverage area with few transmitters. DRM transmission can fit into spectrum space allocated for AM channels and so offers the possibility for a smooth transition from AM to DRM. DRM+ is an extension of DRM to work in the frequency bands over 30MHz, but below 174Mhz so FM band (band II) and band I. Capacity is increased to reach up to 185kbit/s. This allows DRM+ to broadcast with enhanced audio quality and multimedia. DRM+ is the European digital candidate for FM band in the long term when FM broadcast will start to be phased out. Hybrid analogue/digital transmission using the same antenna infrastructure is also possible.



The hybrid broadcast-broadband approach has a high profile currently. In this scenario, broadcast networks efficiently deliver the premium content  free-to-air whilst broadband networks (Internet), when available, enrich the experience, offer interactivity and personalisation. The EBU is currently active in RadioDNS promoting this approach. RadioDNS creates and maintains the open technical standards for Hybrid Radio.

Visit RadioDNS manager webpage on

IDAG-logo-header.jpg (IDAG logo recht)  

OMRI (Open Mobile Radio Interface)

The IDAG have successfully negotiated the development of the first DAB+ smartphone with LG, that smartphone, the LG Stylus 2 DAB, was launched in April 2016.
The goal of this OpenMobileRadioInterface API is allow custom applications a standardized access to tuner functionalities, which will enable application developers to implement advanced features such as Categorised SlideShow, ClickThroughURLs and hybrid functionality. The goals of developing an universal API are:

  • provide an easy to use application layer interface to embedded tuner functionalities
  • ideally, implementations of this API will enable the "write once run anywhere" promise for application developers and content providers
  • help increasing the number of smartphones which include DAB by make it easier for the smartphone and chip manufacturers to implement DAB functionality.

Visit OMRI webpage on EBU's github.

EBU Technology & Innovation Workplan

Every two years, the EBU develops a roadmap for technology and innovation activities based on the requirements and inputs given by EBU Members. The result of this roadmap is our bi-annual EBU Technology & Innovation Workplan. Strategic programmes and project groups are set up to focus on specific areas of interest. To access the latest Workplan, click here.

EBU Strategic Programme on Digital Radio Platforms

The topic of Digital Radio Platforms is part of the EBU's Strategic Programme on Digital Radio Platforms.

Main activities:

  • Helps Members in the process of moving from analogue to digital radio platforms.
  • With your input, we put together use cases for digital radio and provide guidance for digital implementation.
  • We also offer tools like our RadioDNS Manager for those of you who want to start testing and experimenting with RadioDNS without having to deploy the necessary infrastructure yourself. We represent your interests at international meetings and lobby for the inclusion of digital radio receivers in smartphones.
  • Our RadioHack community is a great place to share your experience and learn from others.

Join us

If you are interested in Digital Radio Platforms, join our group on this topic and participate in the discussions.  Some restrictions may apply. 

Terrestrial radio broadcasting is a cornerstone of our society



Terrestrial Radio plays a crucial role in most societies around the globe. Universally available and free at the point of use, it is the primary destination and reference point for audio delivery, providing audiences with news, music and information. Across Europe, citizens welcome and recognize the value of radio, listening to an impressive 2:29 hours of radio each day.
Radio listening time in 2015.JPG
Terrestrial Radio is the backbone of the distribution, delivering the vast majority of listening hours.


User centric

Radio is direct, easy to use and well adapted to listener needs. Public service broadcasters develop services for diverse communities and interest groups and serve them. Accordingly, all listeners can find stations with a suitable mix of information, news and entertainment for their personal needs.



The terrestrial broadcasting network is resilient during natural disasters, national emergencies and when mobile connectivity is restricted, for instance following a terrorist incident. It is a vital asset in keeping the population informed in emergencies or when public safety is endangered. This highly significant role of radio is endorsed by the ITU, which underlines its relevance for public warning, disaster mitigation and relief in the Report ITU-R BT.2299-0.



Radio is accessible on different ways, using AM, FM, DAB+, as well as the internet; it extends to cars, mobile phones and tablets on the move. An impressive range of devices can facilitate radio reception everywhere.



Public service broadcasters reach a wide public. Radio reception is always possible, both in cities and rural areas. In 2015, radio reached 85% of European citizens weekly,
Radio reach in 2015.JPG
which corresponds to 420 million listeners.



Terrestrial broadcasting ensures a seamless listening experience. Robustness and signal quality cannot be delivered by mobile internet alone.

Key facts to support digital radio


Analogue radio is a bottleneck

As the audio distribution landscape is evolving, radio needs development to keep pace with consumer expectations.
In this context the traditional analogue transmission technology represents a bottleneck, since, in its current form, room for development in most European countries is severely restricted. As it has happened with the case of DTT, migration to digital radio would enable better quality and a more robust reception.


New opportunities

Digital switchover opens new opportunities for both broadcasters and audiences. The optimized use of the currently congested spectrum will free up new space for innovative services while on the content side digital radio allows a richer offer, as new stations are launched to address underserved communities or introduce thematic channels for a general audience. It will strengthen the democratic, social and economic value of radio, emphasising pluralism, diversity and universal service.



Digital radio continues to evolve introducing new hybrid functionality, harnessing the power of free-to-air broadcasting with the individual connectivity and interactivity of the internet and social media. Radio can offer the interactive features associated with apps and the internet, without additional costs for broadcasters and listeners. Digital radio adds broadcast text and graphics to the audio core, but hybrid permits the inclusion of broadcast links facilitating the interaction with content on related websites. Additional functionality, like tagging a song to improve your personal recommendation system, creating playlists, and rewinding will also be added.


Cost efficiency

Digital transmission is more efficient but still less expensive. The cost to run a digital radio network is of the same order of magnitude of the equivalent analogue radio network, but the core difference between the two is in the possibility of the digital network to host multiple stations at the same time. Sharing the costs dramatically decreases the financial exposure of a single station up to 90%. Consequently the total number of transmitters is considerably reduced. For example, Norway’s NRK has an obligation to cover 99.5% of population with 14 digital radio services (DAB+) in a large country sparsely populated by five million people. To fulfil this requirement, 762 DAB transmitters are needed. Digitization has enabled NRK to reduce its transmission costs and increase its offer. Currently about 2,000 transmitters are required to distribute three FM channels.



The growing acceptance of digital radio is highlighted by the current market situation. Since 2009 sales have grown steadily by +16% year on year, and the mass-market production of digital radio receivers has led to decreasing prices. Today listeners can buy their digital radio for as little as 15 euros.


Future proof

Audience trends show a slow migration to personalised audio consumption, despite that, traditional broadcasting will remain the backbone of audio consumption in the years to come. Hybrid Radio brings together the best of two worlds, the effectiveness of digital broadcasting and the sophistication of internet. Radio is here to stay.



Radio access

This scenario ensures the best geographical coverage both nationally and cross country. It is important that people can receive news and information wherever they are and on whatever device.


Economies of scale

The possibility to address the whole European market would foster competition and the production of newer and inexpensive radio receivers.


Listening costs

This would guarantee universality radio throughout Europe on whatever device with the free to air model. Listeners would enjoy live radio for free.



This would guarantee universality radio throughout Europe on whatever device with the free to air model. Listeners would enjoy live radio for free.


Local employment

With the possibility to create new stations, and cross platform services a growth of job opportunities is to be expected.




Radio access

Access to free to air radio on the move both nationally and cross border is very limited. As a result streaming is the only available option with direct consequences on high access cost and poor network resiliency.


Economies of scale

The benefit of economies of scale would be very limited. Digital radio would have a fragmented market and would be present only in a number of countries.


Listening costs

This would guarantee universality of radio only on traditional receivers. Connected cars or handheld devices will require internet access, leading to a much higher cost for listeners.



This scenario would see a limited number of digital radio adopters and only on traditional radio. This is the worst case scenario and the introduction of new functionalities will be very limited.


Local employment

Only the content production would get benefits. With the possibility to create new stations, a growth of job opportunities is to be expected.

Digital Radio Rollout

Digital radio is gaining consensus and as shown in the picture below, the number of European countries rolling out the technology is consistent and increasing.

Roll-out map in 2015.JPG


It is valuable for radio stations to be uniquely identified and this recommendation is to broadcast the Extended Country Code (ECC), as defined in RDS specification IEC 62106, and DAB specification EN 300 401 in all terrestrial radio broadcasts.     

There is renewed momentum across Europe behind the transition to digital radio, and more to come as integration in smartphones improves. In parallel, a hybrid radio approach combines the power of both broadcast (DAB+, DRM, FM) and broadband.

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