AMSTERDAM — The IBC2023 show attracted slightly more than 43,000 attendees from 170 countries to the RAI Amsterdam, Sept. 15–18. According to the organizers, this figure represents a 16% increase in total attendees compared to 2022. The floor show hosted more than 1,250 exhibitors, nearly 25% more than last year.
Even though these are lower than pre-pandemic figures (the record-breaking 2017 event welcomed 57,669 attendees across six days), the entire industry seems well on the path to leaving the pandemic behind. IBC director Steve Connolly said, “We’re ready to continue evolving for next year’s show to keep up with increased demand, and we’ll be expanding our footprint with additional outdoor pavilions and the opening of Hall 14 for IBC2024.”
Positive messages emerged about the radio industry. Speaking at the WorldDAB session, Edita Kudláčová, EBU’s head of radio, confirmed that once more in 2022, radio emerged as the most trusted medium in Europe. According to the EBU Media Intelligence Service, 56% of EU citizens trust radio. “This trust has been preserved since the very beginning,” Kudláčová said, pointing out how, in contrast, the internet and online social networks scored a poor trust figure in the same survey. “Radio for us is a combination of live radio, on-demand content, as well as everything that goes on a podcast,” Kudláčová continued, confirming how the concept of “radio” is live and evolving.
Momentum is boiling up in countries embracing digital radio technology, both in terms of listening and the number of receivers sold. Notably, in those countries, in-car digital receivers are becoming a standard in new cars and a sound presence in existing cars as a retrofit.
China is to give impetus to the growth in digital. Before the show’s opening, China’s National Radio and Television Administration, its Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the State Administration for Market Regulation issued a statement encouraging the adoption of DRM for domestic and provincial radio stations.
Digital in emerging markets
As to emerging markets, new countries have officially stepped into the digital broadcast radio era, potentially allowing a global reach of billions of people. Speaking at the Digital Radio Mondiale session, Murtaza Solangi, Pakistan’s minister of information and broadcasting, confirmed the installation of a 1,000 kW DRM medium-wave transmitter at Rawat, near Islamabad in the northeastern region of the country, and said, “Work on this project will be executed soon.”
Edmund Fianko, acting director of engineering at Ghana’s National Communication Authority, confirmed that the country will trial DAB in 11 stations in Greater Accra and eight in the Ashanti region to extensively test the digital radio standard’s capability. At the same time, authorities will promote DAB services, including public awareness campaigns, expand DAB trials into other regions and, eventually, develop an official regulatory framework.
In August, Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Information released a reform regulation of terrestrial radio broadcasting services that officially adopts digital radio standards for broadcasting — DRM in MW, FM and VHF-III (in the frequency range 174–202 MHz) and DAB in VHF-III (frequency range 202–230 MHz). The regulation applies to public, commercial and community radio stations.
Elsewhere at the show, production gear and studio equipment manufacturers showcased more and more tools capable of moving almost any physical device used in the audio production workflow to the cloud. Given the dramatic increase in computational power allowed by contemporary IT hardware platforms, a single 1RU piece of hardware can now power numerous virtualized consoles, sound processors, codecs and telephone hybrids, each “device” relying on a single, dedicated instance for increased reliability, customization level and hardware efficiency. Moving operations to the also cloud provides the highest degree of redundancy and disaster-recovery capabilities. Furthermore, flexible cloud pricing allows producers and broadcasters to reserve (and pay for) computational power for only the time they need to use an entire studio or a given device.
As the doors closed on another IBC Show, the impression that would have remained in the minds of those attending is that the pandemic is now indeed behind us, and radio is looking increasingly healthy.
As a special treat and sealing people’s desire to meet again vis-a-vis, on Saturday Sept. 16, transmitter manufacturer Nautel organized an evening boat cruise across Amsterdam. As expected, the packed event reminded attendees how pleasant it is to be able to share stories and exchange information in person.
IBC2024 is slated to take place Sept. 13–16, 2024.