Speaking at WorldDAB’s Industry Insight Session at the IBC in Amsterdam, the EBU’s Head of Radio Graham Dixon said: “The continuing importance of live radio, combined with the increasing popularity of radio on the move, with young people in particular consuming radio on their phones, means we need to establish reliable delivery platforms to take radio into the future.”
Live radio is still incredibly popular with an average of 2.42 hours of listening per day across Europe. However, radio is facing a number of challenges that the industry needs to address. Traditional analogue radio broadcasting is constrained on an overcrowded spectrum that prevents broadcasters from innovating and offering new stations and services.
When it comes to radio listening on the internet, and in particular on portable devices, the limits imposed by data plans and battery consumption restrict access to the medium. Clearly, digital radio can ensure that radio can continue to be delivered in a robust manner, free of charge.
The EBU has analysed the situation in the five principal markets in Europe and found that the cost of an average mobile subscription, with sufficient data allowance for radio listening, is far from universally affordable. Tests also show that streaming audio drains batteries rapidly, limiting the number of listening hours as does the data cap.
The introduction of digital radio receivers in all mobile devices would remove these constraints. Digital radio broadcasting does not consume mobile data and uses as little as one tenth of the battery consumed by streaming.
Dixon concludes: “Radio plays an extremely important role in people’s lives. It deserves a secure, futureproof delivery method. We need to ensure audiences are not subject to data scarcity and the limits imposed by the batteries in mobile devices. On both these points, DAB+ provides a real way forward.”