ABU Symposium Speakers Predict Hybrid Approach to Digital Radio

March 26, 2014

Mar 10, 2014 - Traditional over-the-air radio is not going to be replaced by streaming over the Internet any time soon, according to several speakers at the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union Symposium held in Kuala Lumpur in March 2014.

The BBC's Lindsay Cornell said that the high cost of streaming audio is becoming a burden for the BBC, since streaming costs are proportional to the number of listeners. Broadcast radio's costs are fixed no matter how many people listen. Cornell pointed to a report on distribution costs, which reveals that the BBC spent US$48 million in 2012/13 for online distribution, more than the total costs of over-the-air radio and TV combined, according to Asia Radio Today.

In her presentation, Joan Warner, CEO of Commercial Radio Australia, quoted Australian research showing that consumers there would like to be able to receive over-the-air radio with their phones to prolong battery life and minimize data costs. "Radio audiences number in the millions, all listening at the same time, so apps and streaming cannot cope with the kind of numbers that listen to 'free-to-air' broadcasting. A hybrid solution where there are receiver chips in phones to provide the audio, combined with apps is the solution. Hybrid functionality will ensure a bright future for the industry," said Warner.

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