European Radio Execs Make Case for In-Car Digital Radio

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European Radio Execs Make Case for In-Car Digital Radio

Oct 6, 2014 2:34 PM, Doug Irwin, CPBE AMD DRB

AMSTERDAM�In a panel discussion on in-car digital broadcast radio at the recent IBC broadcast exhibition in Amsterdam, digital radio executives made their case for the technology. Most major car brands offer DAB or DAB+, the European digital radio standards, as an option or as standard feature. According to WorldDMB, 63 percent of new cars sold in Norway and 55 percent in the UK come with DAB and DAB+. The two countries are among the most successful in pushing digital radio, according to a recent article published by WorldDMB.

However, in the car industry, executives are hedging their bets. Many expect internet radio and IP connectivity to become the standard for in-car �infotainment'' delivery in the future. In the views of many auto-industry executives and most potential car buyers, digital radio isn't something that stands out as a coveted function available in a new car. According to a recent IHS survey, slightly more than 20 percent of respondents indicated that digital radio was a "must have" when buying a new car; more than one-third said factory-installed navigation and smartphone connectivity fell into that category.

The auto industry and car buyers don''t appreciate the potential of digital radio, according to many broadcast executives. Jacqueline Bierhorst, campaign manager for the promotion of digital radio in the Netherlands, cited research showing 19 per�cent of all radio listening takes place in the car, underscoring just how important the car is for the broadcast industry. Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, said digital radio can address driver distraction, a major preoccupation of the global auto industry. "How you keep it simple for motorists is a key issue," Ennals said. "The way radio is delivered needs to be simplified." That issue was specifically addressed by Michael Hill, managing director of Radioplayer UK, whose stated goal is "to make radio listening easy on connected devices." Hill has developed a pro-totype automotive module that takes digital radio and traditional FM and combines them to show a user just one station list. Car brands in some cases force users to look for a specific radio category, such as DAB, FM, or internet radio. "We've developed a multiplayer hybrid radio adaptor that hides all trans-mission complexity from the listener," Hill said.