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Radio on the agenda at DBS

Radio content was on the agenda at today’s Digital Broadcasting Symposium in Malaysia.

Speakers Joan Warner, Steve Ahern and Alexander Zink covered topics including the latest audience trends, strategies to get digital radio into phones and 5.1 surround sound through digital radio.

Warner told the audience that broadcasters must work with telcos and smartphone manufacturers, even though they are also viewed as competitors. “Keep your friends close and your competitors closer,” she said, quoting an old saying.

Commercial Radio Australia aims to get digital radio receiver chips into phones as one of its strategic priorities this year. Mobile data and the Internet cannot cope with the large bandwidth required to service big numbers of listeners. If radio chips are in phones, broadcasters, consumers and telcos will all benefit, because radio services will send more reliable signals to smart phone and tablet users, especially at big events where phone towers cannot handle the amount of traffic required. 

Tackling social media, IMBA’s Ahern said it can be a double edged sword: “We want broadcasters to bring large numbers of their online fans to our stations, and we want to use the internet for virtual focus groups, but going online presents risks too. Activists and dissatisfied customers using social media can amplify complaints and cause problems for broadcasters, so there are risks to be managed in this new world.” 

Alexander Zink, from Fraunhofer IIS, discussed multi media and surround services on digital radio.

Fraunhofer’s Journaline service delivers text content to screen radios. Zink explained the newest developments in the product, including multiple layers of text content and demonstrated its functions on a Samsung tablet equipped with Journaline.

On digital radio 5.1 surround sound is possible and Fraunhofer has successfully tested it on a range of devices. When broadcast to a mono or stereo radio the signal is combined with no problems, but when heard on a surround sound receiver the signal delivers 5.1 sound. Zink told delegates that there is a lot of material available in 5.1 because movie soundtracks are made with that standard. Bollywood music is one big area where there is plenty of popular musical content already available in 5.1 format.