U.K. DAB Policy Goes Back to the Future

Grant Goddard, the go-to analyst on all things related to digital radio in the United Kingdom, penned a post this week about regulators’ latest attempt to “understand” the deficiencies of digital audio broadcasting (DAB) in an ongoing effort to “correct” them.

Here’s the kicker: this will require the intensive study of analog FM radio. The exercise’s apparent goal is to provide some sort of benchmark-metric for explaining why DAB’s proliferation has not lived up to expectations. Read More

Norway: New Vanguard of Digital Radio?

Last month, the Norwegian Culture Ministry published a report calling for the turnoff of all analog radio broadcast services in the country by 2017.

Domestic boosters of the plan claim that the switch to the Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB) protocol represents “a tool for democratization and a vast increase in choice.” Although DMB is a different technology than HD Radio, the U.S. digital radio broadcasting standard, both suffer from a technologically-agnostic failure to provide qualitative improvements to existing analog radio service. Read More

Whoa, Canada: DAB Effectively Dead?

Grant Goddard notes the publication of a report by Industry Canada (our northern neighbors’ version of the FCC) on the state of the country’s digital audio broadcasting transition. Short answer: do-over time!

In the report, the Canadian government basically admits that its DAB transition has stalled (at just 76 stations), and is now in reverse (digital stations are going dark). The report cites many reasons for its failure: large up-front capital investment; expensive receivers leading to little audience; and, most importantly, DAB was designed as a technical solution to a content problem. Read More

Digital Radio Wobbles Around the World

Last month, I attended an exploratory workshop hosted by the European Science Foundation about the prospects of community media in a digitally-convergent communications environment. Not surprisingly, when one thinks “community media,” radio first comes to mind, and we represented in full: most of the 30 invitees to this workshop were either involved in radio activism and/or regulation in their respective home countries.

My personal mission was to warn as many other countries away from casting their fates with iBiquity’s HD Radio platform, as it not only carries a plethora of technical risks, but it may decimate community radio stations as we know them (draft, not for publication). Fortunately, this was an easy job: the Europeans can see through the snake-oil that is HD Radio, and the general consensus of the workshop was that HD should be opposed at every step. Read More