This week, our sister union, the Arab State Broadcasting Union (ASBU) organized a two-day symposium on Digital Radio at its headquarters in Tunis together with WorldDMB. Various speakers, from broadcasters and operators to industry, came to share their experience, best practice and deployment strategies for Digital Radio in Europe. Talks ranged from marketing and the business case for DAB+ to functionalities and transmission infrastructure.
Many countries in the Middle East and north of Africa show interest for deploying digital radio and have questions regarding the coverage, market and specifications for Arab countries. Their main motivations are to get away from interference in the FM band, offer new features and programming such as text and images, hybrid radio and an emergency warning system.
The availability and prices of receivers are also important factors. The fact that prices for entry level DAB+ receivers have recently dropped to 20€ and the progress being made in the car industry, to integrate DAB+, are perceived as good signs. While the coverage of densely populated areas can be solved with DAB+ in VHF as the market is mature, some question what to do with AM transmitters in medium or shortwave to achieve country wide coverage. Here, DRM could be an additional option, if receivers hit the market.
This was the second symposium of this nature and compared to last year, more countries were represented at the event (some just about to start trials). For instance, DAB+ trials are already taking place in Tunis.