More and more countries in Europe rely on DAB Plus and start rolling out new digital programs. Where the digital radio standard is already established, the variety of programs has increased significantly in recent months.
For the listeners, this means: more variety and clear, digital reception. In some countries, the proportion of digital hearing compared to analogue reception is already so high that they are planning to switch completely to DAB Plus. As is well known, Norway switched off the nationwide analog network in 2018.
Radio broadcasts via DAB and / or DAB Plus are already available in 30 European countries. The digital radio programs are combined in so-called multiplexes (Mux). These are program bouquets that combine up to 16 offers on one frequency and are therefore energy and resource-saving in comparison to FM broadcasting. Here is an overview of the activities outside Germany (from M to V):
The island nation is a pioneer in building a DAB-Plus network. The technical reach of DAB Plus is 100 percent. 41 radio programs are broadcast in simulcast mode via the two national multiplexes.
In the small principality there are two multiplexes with a total of 16 private radio programs in French, Italian and English.
In the Netherlands, both private radio stations across the country and NPOs under public law now have 95 percent coverage. There is a public and private multiplex, plus five mixed regional bouquets and a metropolitan area coverage by the organizer MTVNL. A new layout of these broadcasting areas is planned for 2020 and another national multiplex for private radio in the medium term. In addition, local radio stations have been able to test DAB Plus since the beginning of 2020 in a test operation that is initially limited to two years. The telecommunications authority Agentschap Telecom has allocated 22 test approvals for such small luxuries (“small scale”) to interested operators, most of which are now on the air.
In the Netherlands, 39 percent of the population use digital ways to listen to the radio. 25 percent of households have at least one DAB Plus device, 43 percent of all new cars are equipped with DAB Plus.
In summer 2019, a multiplex with programs of the public service broadcaster Makedonska Radio-Televizija (MR) in Northern Macedonia in the capital region Skopje started.
Norway is the first country in the world to switch off national and regional FM chains. The range of the radio stations is stable: 98 percent of the listeners have remained loyal to the radio, bought DAB-Plus receivers or are now listening to radio over IP. 99.5 percent of the population in Norway can receive digital radio, 60 percent of households have a DAB-Plus radio. A multiplex is offered nationwide. There are also seven regional and seven local multiplexes. 108 radio programs can be received throughout Norway, 15 of which are only available via DAB Plus.
A national multiplex has started in Austria, in which ten private radio programs are currently being broadcast. Vienna has a regional mux with 13 programs. By the end of 2021, the state capitals and important traffic routes are to be supplied, with a planned total coverage of around 85 percent of the Austrian population. In addition, further regional multiplexes are planned in large cities such as Linz or Graz.
The digital radio has been expanding in Poland since 2013. 56 percent of the population can already receive DAB Plus.
17 regional multiplexes from Polskie Radio broadcast a total of 32 radio programs, ten of which are exclusively digital. Small-scale multiplexes are being tested in six areas, including the large cities of Bielitz-Biala, Wroclaw, Gdansk and Warsaw, as well as the small towns of Andrychów and the spa town of Szczawnica in Lesser Poland.
The Polish State Broadcasting Council KRRiT announced local multiplexes in the cities of Katowice, Poznan, Rzeszów, Thorn, Tarnów, Czestochowa and Warsaw on May 6, 2019. 54 applications from 21 applicants have been received by the State Broadcasting Council. 49 applications were accepted. In December the KRRiT started sending the concessions to the applicants. Only when all applicants have received a license can they agree on a network operator and start building the DAB-Plus network. KRRiT has announced that it will tender further small-scale multiplexes in major cities and regional and nationwide multiplexes.
Five Societatea Română de Radiodifuziune public service programs and a private radio program (Bucuresti FM) can be heard on DAB Plus in the capital Bucharest. The bouquet is still in test operation.
In addition to a multiplex from Sveriges Radio (SR), which can mainly be heard in the big cities, the Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT) has launched a national DAB Plus package with 13 private programs. Well-known radio brands such as Rix FM, Star FM or Bandit Rock belong to NENT. After the start of the multiplex in Gothenburg and Malmö, almost half of the population will be supplied with DAB Plus. The private media company Bauer is planning another, nationwide mux in 2020.
For the first time, DAB Plus is the most widely heard distribution channel for radio in Switzerland. This emerges from the current semi-annual report commissioned by the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) and the Digital Migration working group. According to this, 37 percent of the 2,800 radio listeners surveyed use digital radio. This is the first time that radio technology has become the “most widely used form of distribution” since the surveys began in 2015. FM fell back to second place with 32 percent, closely followed by Internet radio with 31 percent. Almost seven in ten Swiss primarily use digital channels to listen to the radio. Another national multiplex will increase the program diversity in German-speaking Switzerland by up to 16 radio programs. Today, over 140 channels can be received in Switzerland via DAB Plus.
According to the current status, FM radio in Switzerland should be switched off by the end of 2024 at the latest. After Norway, the Confederation would be the second country to say goodbye to analog radio. In order to accompany this changeover, OFCOM has launched an information campaign. Since Pentecost 2017, cross-media has been advertised under the motto “Radio is moving.” Since early 2020, the campaign has been expanded with new motifs and the switch has been prepared in a media-wide manner.
In Serbia, almost 80 percent of the population is now provided with a multiplex that is currently still in test operation. The range of three programs of the public broadcaster Radio-Televizija Srbije is to be expanded soon – also with private radios.
Two multiplexes from Towercom and AVIS are in test operation in Slovakia. 36.1 percent of the population is currently supplied with public and private radio programs via DAB Plus.
In the former Yugoslav republic, a multiplex with 16 private radio programs can be heard, 14 in the simulcast with FM and two exclusively digital. 73 percent of households and 89 percent of highways are served. Eight radio broadcasters with a total of 11 programs applied for the national ensemble “DAB Plus R1”.
Two multiplexes are in operation in the metropolitan areas of Madrid and Barcelona. One with four programs from Radio Nacional de España (RNE) and two private radios and another with seven commercial programs.
Although there is still no national plan for the introduction of DAB Plus, the Spanish autonomous community of Navarre in northern Spain wants to advertise slots for DAB Plus. Test broadcasts for DAB Plus are also available on the Costa del Sol (Marbella) and on the Canary Islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria.
A comprehensive network expansion has taken place in the Czech Republic: the public broadcaster Český rozhlas (CR) now reaches 80 percent of the population with its programs via DAB Plus. By the end of 2020, it should even be 95 percent.
In addition to Český rozhlas, Teleko and RTI operate local, mixed multiplexes (public and private) in eleven regions. In the capital city of Prague there is also another mux with ten private radios.
In four Turkish regions, including the large cities of Ankara and Istanbul, there is a multiplex of the state broadcaster TRT with eight programs in test operation. 25 percent of the population is currently reached.
In the Ukrainian capital Kiev, four state and ten private radio stations can be heard on DAB Plus in a regional multiplex. Soon the offer will increase by two more commercial channels, new licenses have been granted to the organizers Prosto Radio Station and Radio Miami.
In the capital, Budapest, there is a multiplex with three public and four private radio programs in test operation.
For the greater Rome area, Radio Vatican operates a multiplex with four programs in different languages.
Source: Digitalradio Büro Deutschland