Radio

Helping members keep radio relevant in a digital and connected age

 

Digital Radio

Digital Radio is the delivery of radio content using digital technologies. It includes both digital broadcasting technology (like DAB/DAB+) and the streaming of radio services over the internet.

The recommendations of the EBU in this area are summarised in the document R138

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DAB/DAB+

The DAB family of standards have designed as a digital radio solution for band III, especially robust for mobile applications with capacity for carrying a wide variety of audio and associated multimedia services.

Audio and data services are carried in a multiplex, with each multiplex broadcasting on a single block within Band III. Data services can include Programme Guides, Visual Slideshows, TPEG traffic data, and a number of others.

DAB+ uses HE-AACv2 audio, and can deliver improved quality at a lower bitrate, and thus leave more room for additional services on a multiplex.

The EBU recommends that broadcasters implement digital radio broadcast using DAB+, alongside RadioDNS Hybrid Radio services.

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RadioDNS

Hybrid Radio is of key importance to broadcasters, given a convergence of broadcast and broadband - improving the radio user experience by making the best of both approaches.

In this scenario, broadcast networks efficiently deliver the content to listeners, free-to-air whilst an available broadband connection can add additional or higher quality content to enrich the experience, offer interactivity and enable personalisation. 

The EBU is currently working actively in Hybrid Radio to develop standards and services for its members, alongside RadioDNS.

The EBU RadioDNS Manager is provided as a service to its members in order to provide the ability for broadcasters to reach further with Hybrid Radio. Learn more about this on its webpage on EBU.io

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OMRI (Open Mobile Radio Interface)

The goal of this project is open an API to mobile phone tuner functionalities, enabling developers to easily integrate broadcast reception in their applications:

  • Provide an easy to use application layer interface to embedded tuner functionalities
  • Enable the "write once run anywhere" promise for application developers and content providers
  • Increase the number of smartphones including digital broadcast reception capabilities

Visit the OMRI webpage on EBU's github.

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World Broadcasting Unions (WBU)

The WBU is the collective organisation of the World’s eight broadcasting unions. In order to help broadcasters and administrations decide on a policy for the transition from analogue to digital radio, the WBU Technical Committee has assembled information on the alternative systems currently used. 

The Radio Technologies Guide (Version 1) is available here.

Comments and suggestions on the completeness of the Radio Guide are welcome and should be sent to the WBU-TC Vice-Chair at amal@abu.org.my. The text will be reviewed and Version 2 will be published in June 2018.

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DRM

Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) has been designed as a digital radio solution for bands currently used for analogue service (LW, MW, SW) offering an improved audio quality and easy tuning while keeping the advantage of a large coverage area with few transmitters.

DRM+ is an extension to DRM in Bands I, II and III with increased bandwidth, enabling enhanced audio quality and multimedia.

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

 

Free-to-air

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. 2017radiolistening.png

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.

 

Resilient

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.

 

Accessible

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.

 

Universal

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,

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which corresponds to 420 million listeners.

 

Seamless

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.

 

Multimedia

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.

 

Affordability

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.

EUROPEAN ROLL OUT OF DIGITAL RADIO.
DIGITAL RADIO IN CARS AND HANDHELD DEVICES BY DEFAULT

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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.

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Economies of scale

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

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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.

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Innovation

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

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Local employment

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

 

NATIONAL ROLL OUT OF DIGITAL RADIO.
DIGITAL RADIO IN CARS AND HANDHELD DEVICES OCCASIONALLY

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Innovation

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.

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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. Log in to see the map.

   

Digital leaders are those countries that are at the forefront of the implementation of digital radio according to most of the indicators, including extensive coverage, expanded offer of new services and advanced legislation and regulation including criteria and sometimes dates for the switchover.

   

Digital embracers include those countries where DAB+ has been launched nationally, with exclusive services (different from analogue broadcasting). Receivers are available in the market, promotion campaigns are run and the penetration is growing (at different paces).

   

Digital newbies are those countries that have recently launched DAB+ services, with exclusive stations but limited coverage (to specific cities or regions) and limited or no commitment from some stakeholders. 

   

Wait-and-see describes the situation of those countries where regular digital radio services or trials are available but there is nearly no market because of lack of receivers and, generally speaking, lack of commitment from the different stakeholders (this can be seen, for example, in the lack of exclusive services).

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.

The pressure on spectrum in the UHF band, where DTT is mainly implemented, has given rise to the idea that Band III could be used for DTT instead. This guide tells you why this is NOT the case and how you can contribute to the discussions.

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