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ftm Radio Page - week ending September 8, 2017

Broadcasters agree digital transition in the hands of politicians, nothing else
"enormous opportunity"

A status report on digital radio in Germany presented at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin shows more people with access to DAB+ receiving devices; 15.1% of households up from 12.6% one year on. Internet radio devices also grew; 9.7% of households up from 8.6%. FM receiving devices remain vastly dominant; 92.9% of households, slightly lower from 93.3%.

The report calculates about 2.5 million Germans over 14 year listening daily to a DAB+ channel, on average about 29 minutes per day. The survey was prepared by Kantar TNS. Next year the AG.MA audience estimates will integrate DAB+ stations. (See more about media in Germany here)

As usual, public and private-sector broadcasters are divided on a continuing digital strategy. “DAB+ is enormously important because we only reach a part of our potential listeners with FM, “ said new public radio network Deutschlandradio director Stefan Raue at the presentation, quoted by (September 6). “The choice of equipment is enormous. Now, the necessary work for DAB+ is political.” (See more about digital radio here)

"In the discussion about DAB + the political will seems to have reached the point of no return,” said private broadcasters association VPRT radio president Klaus Schunk. “The concerns of private radio operators on digital migration of terrestrial radio broadcasting have not been taken into account in the political decision-making process.” VPRT members have long been DAB-sceptics and removed themselves from the German digital radio support group earlier this year.

Their plan - presented at the IFA radio day - includes several concrete steps to digital radio development. First, quite naturally, is money; promoting digital transition will cost €500 million currently not available through normal revenue streams. FM shut-off, another point, shouldn’t happen until FM usage falls below 10% of all listening. “The mere existence of receiving equipment is not a sufficient benchmark.” (See the VPRT statement here - in German) They also want a three-year transition period.

Digital radio shuttered, censorship blamed
"parochial and inward-looking"

A flurry of news reports in recent days have told of Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), the government broadcaster, dropping the BBC World Service (BBC WS) in favor of China National Radio (CNR) Hong Kong Edition. Petitioners against the change, according to Reuters (September 4), said Hong Kong will “feel more parochial and inward-looking.” The CNR channel will replace BBC WS on RTHK Radio 6, an AM/MW channel. BBC WS distribution will continue on the internet and satellite.

That is only part of the story. Six months ago RTHK announced it would be dropping its 5-channel DAB+ (digital audio broadcasting) multiplex as “unrealistic,” reported South China Morning Post (SCMP - March 28). Three commercial DAB+ multiplex operators had already dropped away, returning their licenses. RTHK cited “weak demand” for shutting down the DAB+ channels; Hong Kong listeners firmly attached to those mobile devices. (See more about digital radio here)

Chinese authorities have never embraced media plurality. The government controls just about every source of information and entertainment. The State’s thumb has been firmly placed on Hong Kong since the 20th anniversary this past summer of British withdrawal. The official “one state, two systems” principle is fading. (See more about media in China here)

BBC WS occupied one of the DAB+ channels 24/7. The international broadcaster, renowned as an independent media voice, began broadcasting in Hong Kong in 1978. RTHK was established in 1928, based on the BBC model. After September 4th BBC WS will be heard overnights only on RTHK Radio 4, an FM channel.

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