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More than half of the French population will have access to DAB+ next year, as the deployment of digital radio accelerates across the country. Two new national multiplexes have already been launched, covering the major motorway corridors of Paris-Lyon-Marseille and carrying 25 DAB+ stations including six national public services from Radio France. In the next 12 months, DAB+ will switch on in a further 26 areas, with a total of 465 stations carried on the new multiplexes.
Speaking at last month’s WorldDAB summit, which brought together over 400 key global stakeholders, Sibyle Veil, the CEO of Radio France, and Hervé Godechot from the French media regulator, set out their digital vision for radio.
A Small Revolution
Veil described DAB+ as “a small revolution” for the French radio industry. “DAB+ is first and foremost this modernity, this sound quality, this radio without interference,” she said. “It is also a radio that is free — a radio that is neither dependent on online distribution, nor on operators or platforms. Over the coming years, I believe that listening to live radio will remain durably as a way to listen to the radio.”
“DAB+ is also a broadcast mode that is ecologically interesting,” Veil added. “The transmitters are more powerful and can broadcast more radio stations on the same frequency. These are important issues for us in the future.”
Veil set out Radio France’s firm commitment to the growth of digital radio. “We are really living this revolution,” she said. “We will catch up with other countries like Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium and Norway that are much more advanced than we are in DAB+ distribution to the public. We do that at a moment where change is accelerating. New cars are all equipped with DAB+ since the beginning of the year in France. Similarly, consumer radio sets that are sold are all equipped with DAB+.”
Hervé Godechot, the board member responsible for radio at French regulator Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel, said the radio industry needs to reinvent itself and bring something special to its audience. He described DAB+ as one of the pillars for the success of radio in the future.
“In my opinion, IP and DAB are not on opposite sides,” said Godechot. “They are complementary to each other, offering both new radio access and experience and a digital sound. But DAB does not need an internet access and is anonymous.”
Offering new content was also critical, Godechot argued. “Why do I turn the radio on, instead of listening to a music streaming platform or even watching Netflix?” he asked. “The answer is — because I find on radio something very special, unrivalled, that I cannot find elsewhere. All this is the attention market challenge. The 1,000 French radio channels have all they need to take it up. And the DAB is the cornerstone of their indefatigable success.”
Videos of all sessions at the WorldDAB Summit 2021 are available on the WorldDAB YouTube channel.
The author is WorldDAB France representative.