Originally created in 2013 as part of the UK government's planning for a possible Digital Switchover, the UK Minimum Specification for digital radio standard has now been made Europe-ready as ETSI TS (Technical Specification) 103 461. This covers both receiver sensitivity and performance, as well as device behaviour, e.g. consistent display of text, "service following" between DAB and FM and use of DAB service announcements.

The development was supported by the EBU with Graham Dixon, Head of Radio saying:

"The establishment of an ETSI standard for the testing and approval of digital radio receivers is an important milestone in the adoption of DAB technology across Europe, providing clarity and consistency for manufacturers, broadcasters and consumers alike."

Having a consistent set of agreed behaviours is important for:

  • Broadcasters, giving them more confidence that the services they transmit will be consistently provided to their audiences
  • Device Manufacturers, giving them guidance and best practice, and a standardised method for test and verification
  • Audiences, giving them the assurance that the devices they buy will be fit for purpose

One key requirement is that domestic and automotive receivers must support analogue FM and digital in the form of DAB and DAB+, with only adapters that enable an existing FM receiver to use digital services by means of a short range FM transmitter exempted from requiring analogue reception. This helps to prepare markets for Digital Switchover (DSO) and is a boost for broadcasters rolling out DAB+ services.

Alongside the minimum specification is a consumer-facing Digital Radio Tick Mark logo, which manufacturers can use to advertise their compliance with the scheme. A range of manufacturers including Kenwood, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Pure, Roberts, Ruark and Sony will be making radios to the new standards, with others planning to follow suit. Several countries have signalled their support for the Digital Tick Mark scheme including UK, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy, to be used in marketing and communication to consumers.

To learn more about what the EBU is doing for Radio, go to: tech.ebu.ch/radio

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