DENMARK: “DAB radio: we do not use it here!”

‘DAB radio: we do not use it here!’ said the headline in daily newspaper Ekstra Bladet last month, noting that the proposed digital radio switchover in Denmark has been postponed indefinitely.

Danish state radio, Danmarks Radio [DR], confirmed that it will half its number of DAB radio channels, reducing its total radio services from 23 to between 10 and 12 by next year. In April 2010, the government had insisted that state radio should, in future, focus on quality rather than quantity [see my earlier blog]. Despite having launched its DAB channels in 2002, in aggregate they achieve less than a 10% share of radio listening in Denmark.

Mikael Kamber, media director of Danmarks Radio, commented: “It was a great idea when we introduced so many DAB stations at that time. Then, they were a public service channel assignment. DR helped launch digital listening. But I will say that, today, we can state: mission completed.”

Kamber suggested that, with the growth of online music players such as Spotify and TDC Play, consumers now had lots of other options to find exactly the music that suits their tastes. He explained: “Anyone listening can go online and find exactly what interests him. If you want to hear saxophone music, then there are plenty of opportunities to find it. You can even find saxophone music from the New York school on the web “.

One of the factors limiting DAB usage has been listener inertia. In 2009, nine out of ten Danes listened to only one or two radio stations each week. “New figures show that only 6% of listeners to [youth station] P3 change channel,”
said Danmarks Radio media researcher Dennis Christensen. “The remainder listen to P3 whenever they turn on their radios.”