Digital radio will be too much, not only for community radio
In a government consultation in Sweden the Public Service Council has objected to a commission proposal to support the public service broadcaster to go DAB with state funding including license fees. Also the commercial broadcasters and the community radio organisations have expressed concerns about a digital transition.
The Council says that FM radio is a world standard while DAB is a marginal technology used in a limited number of countries mainly in the richest part of Western Europe. FM Radio is well established in all of the 200 countries in the world. No nation has yet decided on a “switch-off” date for the FM band. Adding to this there are more than 30.000 digital radio channels on the Internet.
The Council suggest that Sweden should follow the example of Finland and abandon all plans to introduce an aging DAB system first introduced in Sweden 1995. Instead Sweden should together with other European countries, and also emerging economies as Brazil and India, introduce a more transparent and less costly, complementary technology as DRM+. Thus, the society and its taxpayers will avoid venturing into big and risky financial investments which cannot be undone.
The Council shares the commission assessment that DAB is not a proper technology for local sound broadcasting and that FM cannot be abandoned before a solution for community radio has been found. Similar assessments have been made before in Denmark, Norway and the UK.
The Council agrees with the policy of the present government that the introduction of digital radio should be “market driven” as well as that the consumer interest should be a guideline. If the commercial broadcasters believe that DAB radio will become profitable they should invest by own means.
Also in the consultation RAB - the organisation for commercial radio broadcasters - admits that the investment costs for DAB are significant and the broadcasters cannot finance this. RAB wants the government to clearly indicate that commercial broadcasters will get the support needed in order to make a transition to DAB possible.
The Community Radio Association (NRO) states in its consultation letter that it is very hesitant about digitalize sound broadcasting in Sweden. This is because that the present technical solutions (DAB) cannot be used by community radio. For the survival of community radio in Sweden NRO emphasizes that the government has the full responsibility to finance any transmission costs in a digital system.
Read more in Digital Radio Europe