The Digital Future Of Radio


Matt Deegan (Folder Media, UK) hosted a conversation between Simon Mason (Head of New Technology at Arqiva in the UK), Ole Jorgen (CEO of Digital Radio in Norway) and Iso Rechsteiner (Project Manager at DSO Switzerland). Everyone brought different ideas and robust debate, but they agreed on one thing: the future is multiplatform. 

Ole opened by talking about the challenges of switching off FM in Norway. He assured delegates, that although listening figures dipped initially, they recovered quickly to similar levels as before the switchover. He said “converting the existing car pool was the single most difficult part” and “radio’s reputation is still suffering” despite the return of listenership. Ole was realistic about where switchover had left the country and he pointed delegates towards the full report on the World DAB website. 

Iso Rechsteiner discussed Switzerland’s switch to digital. The country is working towards migrating from FM to DAB as their main listening platform but the quality of FM is making it difficult to convert those listeners. They like FM too much! 

Simon Mason spoke on Arqiva’s testing of 4G. The market has developed over a number of years and, as Simon said, urban centres and major vehicle routes around the UK are covered well. But off the motorways, in rural England and Wales, coverage often drops back to 2G. Simon also pointed out that having too many people using the mobile networks leads to dropout. He said that, with significant buffering, radio services on 4G worked well, but that video is the problem because streaming video blocks and swamps networks.

It was a constructive and interesting session about the future of platforms for radio. Technology and audiences are changing and we need to make sure we are awake to this. 

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