Licences in Lyon and Strasbourg will be issued by the end of November 2017, while DAB+ services in the Hauts de France region will start in March or April next year. The CSA also announced it is accelerating the schedule for local and regional deployment – with plans for two successive calls, each covering 15 large, densely populated areas. The first is scheduled for the first half of 2018 and the second for the first half of 2019. The CSA is also investigating the possibility of a call for applications in 2018 for two national multiplexes, for which spectrum has already been set aside.
Nicolas Curien said: “I have two pieces of good news: the first is that the responses to the CSA’s public consultation have been numerous and extremely encouraging. The second is that there is no bad news: DAB+ technology will finally be able to take off significantly in mainland France by the end of 2020. The plan that I like to call ‘nodes and arcs’ is on the way to becoming reality.”
A second key focus of the General Assembly was on Norway, which completes the switch-off of its FM services next month. Delegates heard positive reports from the Norwegian regulator and public and private broadcasters. These messages were particularly relevant to Switzerland, which starts its own switchover in 2020, and to other countries which are planning their future digital radio roadmaps. Delegates also heard about the continuing progress of DAB in Europe and the growing number of trials taking place across Africa, the Middle East, Turkey and the Asia Pacific region. To date, over 60 million home and automotive DAB receivers have been sold worldwide.
Patrick Hannon, President, WorldDAB said: “DAB is well established as the corefuture platform for radio in Europe and beyond. Templates for success are firmly established and the FM switch-off in Norway sends a clear signal of what can be achieved. The developments we are seeing in France are equally encouraging and will provide a significant boost to the adoption of DAB+ internationally.”
In other presentations, WorldDAB once again called for European legislation that would require all new radio receivers (consumer and automotive) to incorporate both analogue and digital capability. This addresses a key concern of broadcasters over the speed at which they can build a digital audience, currently restricted by the sale of FM-only radios. During the member-only session, a new steering board was elected by World DAB members and Patrick Hannon was re-elected as President for a further two years. Joan Warner from Commercial Radio Australia and Jacqueline Bierhorst from DigitalRadio Netherlands were elected as Vice-Presidents.