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ftm Radio Page - week ending December 8, 2017

Drama expected in next chapter of digital transition
"It will be big"

Greek radio broadcasters - not to forget listeners - are bracing themselves for the first auction for digital licenses, DAB, DAB+ and DMB. Formal hearings are being conducted to allow for the sharing of opinions before a date - and plan - is set. At this point there is neither interest in or discussion of switching off FM broadcasting.

“It will be big,” said Minister of Digital Policy Nikos Pappas to Red 105.5 (December 6), quoted by news portal, “to let people know that we will have dramas and stories about closing stations.” He suggested 20 national digital radio channels and 50 to 60 per region might receive digital licenses. (See more about digital radio here)

Digital TV licenses were auctioned last summer, and the summer before that, which sent broadcasters to court, leaving several very unhappy. “If the television landscape was once unsettled, it is ten times more for radio,” said Minister Pappas. “Greece has 1,000 radio stations… with workers, employment, obligations.” The Greek government was obligated by European Commission directive to switch to digital TV; no such EC requirement exists for digital radio. (See more about media in Greece here)

In addition to geography, according to suggested dimensions, there will be separate license categories for “information and non-information.” License terms will be ten years and the auction will be open to media companies and organizations established to operate a radio station. No opening bid has been established though the payment structure will be the same as for TV licenses; one-third within 15 days of award, one-third at the end of a year and the last tranche at the end of the second year. It is likely the auction will be held by the end of 2018.

None of this appeals to publicly-funded municipal radio broadcasters who, through their association MME, asked to be exempt. “Municipal radio stations are not speculative businesses and the reason for their existence is the promotion of local publicity, information and entertainment, of all citizens,” said the association in a statement (December 6).

Digital radio crashes in favor of 5G
"to put it bluntly"

Digital radio broadcasting on the DAB+ platform has been turned down by Latvian media regulator NEPLP, reports news website (December 1). Year-long DAB+ tests in Riga by Latvian public radio (LR) have been discontinued. The regulator also decided table further discussion on introducing DAB+ until “at least” 2022.

“To put it bluntly,” said NEPLP chairperson Dace Kezbere, “its ‘green light’ will not flare-up until at least 2022.”

The DAB+ tests in Riga by LR were conducted to calculate the costs involved in a potential digital radio switch-over. Meanwhile the country is moving forward with 5G mobile coverage. "The already available internet technologies enable the development of various types of audio channels and content products for radio stations, while the introduction of the DAB + standard will require millions of euros in investment from taxpayers money, and will oblige consumers to replace radio receivers," explained NEPLP board member Patriks Griva. (See more about digital radio here)

Neighboring Baltic States Estonia and Lithuania have also hesitated joining the DAB herd. Estonian public radio (ERR), in its most recent strategic plan (2017), intends to put all channels on the DAB+ platform in Tallinn between 2018 and 2022. Lithuanian media regulator LRTK authorized DAB broadcasts in 2001 and public broadcaster LRT ran tests. That ended in 2009, the broadcaster citing low demand.

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