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.
This is the reason why digital radio is much more than a distribution technology, it is should be rather considered a holistic process to modernize radio. In this process, distribution technology, user experience, and content become equally important.
The goal is to enhance radio proposition without dismantling its very nature.
Radio core values
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 2:24 hours of radio each day.
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.
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,
Key reasons for digital terrestrial radio
Analogue radio is a bottleneck to innovation
Terrestrial Radio’s evolution can only happen provided that adequate frequency resources are made available.
Digital terrestrial transmission is more efficient but still less expensive. The operational expense to run a digital radio network is of the same order of magnitude of the equivalent analog radio network.
A path to the future
Radio audience trends show a growing appetite for personalized audio consumption on a number of different devices.
EBU Strategic Programme on Radio
The topic of Radio is part of the EBU's Strategic Programme on Radio
- Helping members create a strategy for moving to Digital Radio
- Representing member interests in international fora and lobbying for the interest of public service media
- Helping to develop open standards for Digital and Hybrid Radio
- Create tools and platforms for members to use to enhance their offering with Digital and Hybrid Radio technologies (e.g. Our RadioDNS Open Metadata platform and Visual Contentmanager).
- Organise the Radiohack community with events and initiatives.
If you are interested in Radio, join our group on this topic and participate in the discussions. Please note that this group is currently open to EBU members only, although we may invite external contributors.
Digital Radio standards
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.
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
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:
Visit the OMRI webpage on EBU's github.
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.
Digital Radio Rollout
EBU R 138 - Digital Radio Deployment in Europe, recommends that, Digital radio broadcasting in VHF Band III, where it is available, be established and DAB+ (ETSI TS 102 563) audio services be used for new services.
DAB/DAB+ radio is gaining consensus and momentum in Europe and as shown in the map below, in fact, the number of European countries rolling out the technology is consistent and increasing.
Digital leaders are the countries at the forefront of digital radio according to most indicators, including extensive coverage, expanded offer of new services, advanced legislation and regulation, including criteria and sometimes even dates for the switchover.
Digital embracers are those countries where DAB+ has been launched nationally, with exclusive services (different from analogue broadcasting). Receivers are on the market, promotion campaigns are being run and penetration is growing (at various rates).
Digital newbies are those countries that have recently launched DAB+ services, with exclusive stations but limited coverage (specific cities or regions) and limited or no commitment from some stakeholders.
Wait-and-see describes those countries where regular digital radio services or trials are available but there is nearly no market because of a lack of receivers and, generally, a lack of commitment from the various stakeholders (this can be seen, for example, in the lack of exclusive services).
Radio user experience has historically been one of the key elements that made radio extremely popular. Simple, direct, accessible.
While listeners’ requirements and expectations have been changing over the years, supported by new devices and distribution technologies, radio has only partially exploited the opportunities that these new technologies offer.
The open.radio project aims to help redefine the concept of radio, modernize it and make it fit for the future.
The project has four objectives:
- Modernize the radio user experience.
- Guarantee prominence of radio across devices.
- Facilitate and foster innovation
- Minimise the need for gatekeepers
This can be achieved by the creation of an Open Platform for Hybrid Metadata, as a collaboration with stakeholders, creating a reference platform for high-quality additional user services.
The project focuses on three areas, interactivity, adaptability and accessibility.
One of Radio’s original unique selling points was its simplicity. Finding a station involved turning the radio on and scanning the available frequencies.
While this principle largely still holds, the additional complexity of modern receivers means that this is no longer the simple operation it once was, nor a rich enough user experience compared to audio services elsewhere.
To do so open.radio will deliver:
- a report on additional interactivity that should be at the core of the modern radio experience, and how it could be implemented in a consistent and intuitive way.
For example, these operations will include how listeners can find the content using voice or intuitive touch commands, search station by name or genre, the presentation of onair metadata such as rich track information, how to mix linear and non-linear content, etc.
The user experience of radio will need to continue to evolve and keep pace with audience expectations.
This can be achieved through the use of a consistent, standardized set of APIs that can be integrated into new devices and applications, providing the data that is needed for new user experiences.
To do so open.radio will deliver:
- an Open Hybrid Metadata Platform containing all necessary information to enable additional interactivity
- an Open API for third party devices and applications to make use of this information
This platform will be agile and extensible, and able to accommodate new use cases and services.
The power of radio is its direct connection between broadcast and listener, with no intermediary.
In the analogue world, this meant broadcasting on a particular frequency. In the modern connected world, this means providing the means for a listener to discover the content they are looking for, without having to use a single aggregator or gatekeeper.
To do so open.radio will deliver:
- retain the accessibility of traditional broadcasting, including equitable and free-to-air access to all radio services.
- use open, freely available, international metadata standards
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) is partnering with PILOT, an innovation initiative of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), to co-fund...
The EBU is hosting demonstrations of Member-driven innovations, ultra-high quality content from production trials, meet-ups and a conference session on...
How are plans for the Digital Switchover progressing across Europe, and how is digital listening evolving? In this article we take a look at Norway, Switzerland,...
Over 120 delegates gathered in Geneva for the Digital Radio Summit to hear from EBU Members and others about the present and the future in radio technology...
The EBU's Strategic Programme on Radio stresses the need for innovation in its updated version of EBU recommendation R 138 on "Digital Radio Deployment in...
The September 2017 issue of tech-i is now available for download, with reports and features on the latest developments in media technology.
François Rancy, the Director of the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau, has been confirmed as a speaker for FORECAST 2017, the EBU’s annual flagship event on...
The EBU stand at this year's IBC show will focus on technologies developed for broadcasters by broadcasters, with an emphasis on meeting the requirements...
A new EBU Technical Review paper examines the real world costs of distributing and consuming radio and concludes that broadcast technologies remain the...
The EBU has partnered with Radio Serbia and WorldDAB to host the Digital Radio Seminar in Belgrade (8 June).
The NXG Project, jointly developed by EBU Member Sveriges Radio (SR) and Lawo, a German manufacturer of digital mixing consoles, was presented with the...
Following on from a very successful ASBU Arab Festival for Radio and Television, EBU representatitves once again went to Tunisia to host the EBU Radio...
The most recent additions to the EBU Technical Review concern efforts to improve digital radio coverage in tunnels and a radical new approach to Digital...
The March 2017 edition of tech-i has a particular focus on radio, but also features articles on two important EBU collaborative projects, IMF metadata...
An open Hybrid Radio Seminar and a workshop focusing on the user experience for hybrid radio in cars, both organized by RadioDNS, are scheduled as part...
Norway this week became the world's first country to initiate analogue switch-off in radio, a process that will be completed by the end of 2017. Other...
Should you use Docker Swarms or Kubernetes for your infrastructure? Come and find out which is best for you at EBU DevCon 2016.
The EBU’s Head of Radio, Graham Dixon, has emphasised the importance of maintaining a robust, reliable and contemporary platform for radio transmission...
The EBU has strongly highlighted the importance of introducing digital radio receivers to all mobile devices to meet demand from audiences.
This issue of our tech-i magazine explores “What’s all the fuss about HbbTV?”
The EBU is pleased to announce that Mathias Coinchon has been appointed as the Swiss Public Broadcaster (RTS)’s new Chief Technology Officer.
EBU Technology & Innovation’s Mathias Coinchon has been elected as the new Chair of RadioDNS at their 10th General Assembly. Go into detail!
The latest programme for the 2016 Digital Radio Summit, held at the European Broadcasting Union on 10 February in Geneva, Switzerland, is now out.
Speaking proposals are now being accepted for the 2016 Digital Radio Summit, held at the European Broadcasting Union on 10 February in Geneva, Switzerland.
One might argue that the current ITU World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC-15) discussions around spectrum are currently focused on television in the...
“The digital radio story over the last two years continues to be one of positive steps and collaboration across Europe to take radio into the digital age.”
It is now almost standard practice for modern radio devices to have a colour screen and integrate digital, hybrid or web radio. The EBU will highlight...
UHDTV, Hybrid Radio and the world’s first Live IP TV production studio are just some of the latest achievements in media technology and innovation from...
This was the key question asked by Simon Gauntlett (DTG) at the beginning of this year’s Technical Assembly in Krakow, Poland.
Don't miss out! Get your copy of our latest tech-i magazine today and stay up-to-date with the latest news in broadcasting technology and innovation.
The latest edition of tech-i magazine is now out! This issue focuses on the producing 'smarter', future broadcasting architectures, the use of the 700...
The Geneva Moto Show is taking place 05-15 March this year at Palexpo. We dropped by to see what's new in the car for radio.
Yesterday’s Digital Radio Summit marked the 8th anniversary of such an event. The event showed that the discussions around the future of digital radio...
The Digital Radio Summit brings together key players from Europe’s radio community to share ideas, experiences and inspiration. The event will take place...