DAB radio European update

The newspaper Aftenposten
reported that “sales of DAB receivers are still at a snail’s pace”, with only 61,000 sold in Norway in 2008, compared to eight times that number of analogue receivers sold. Culture Minister Trond Giske said that, if his party wins the election this autumn, “we will present a white paper on DAB in 2010 which, amongst other issues, will discuss whether the government can contribute more actively to promote the digital migration of the radio medium. We now have good experience from the digital migration of television, though the radio medium will take longer and require more preparation. Among other things, there are many more radio receivers to be replaced than there were TV sets, so it is extremely important that this transition occurs at a socially acceptable pace.”

The following day, in an article headlined “Poor Sales Of DAB Radios”, Norway’s Kampanje magazine reported that sales of DAB radios are only 40,000 to 60,000 per annum out of a total 700,000 to 800,000 radios sold annually. Cumulatively, over the last decade, 300,000 to 400,000 DAB radios have been sold out of a total 8,000,000 radio receivers. Synnove Bjoke, managing director of electronics trade organisation Elektronikkbransjen, said: “We believe sales will increase in the years ahead. The day we are given a [FM] switch-off date, we will sell many more DAB radios, but we need a date. There has been uncertainty amongst people, and also in our industry, as to whether we’re ever going to switch off the FM band, and that uncertainty makes people buy regular FM radios.”

Speaking at Swiss Radio Day 2009 held in Zurich last week, Swiss Radio German-language station DRS director Walter Ruegg announced the introduction of DAB broadcasts from 15 October and said that the platform would also be made available to local commercial stations in Switzerland. English-language public station World Radio Switzerland will also be broadcast nationally on DAB from the same date.

RTE Radio boss Clare Duigan told the Irish Independent newspaper that the absence of commercial stations on the DAB platform was a “big issue”. She said: “We’ve begun to talk to the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland [IBI] and we’re very much hopeful that over the next couple of months we’ll be able to work something out. DAB is one of those areas where we really need to work together as an industry.” But IBI boss Willie O’Reilly responded that commercial stations are not interested in rejoining the DAB platform “at the moment” because “the return on investment looks poor”. UTV head of Irish radio Ronan McManamy said that DAB is “not a priority” for UTV in the “current marketplace”.