France – DAB+ strategic for broadcast, despite drop in advertising revenues

23.04.2020 by Aris Erdogdu

In light of the current pandemic and the outbreak of the coronavirus, the need for information is higher than ever, and more and more countries are increasingly relying on DAB+ digital radio to keep their citizens informed.

In France, a growing number of radios stations and consumers are turning to DAB+ digital radio as a significant source of information and a means of entertainment as they remain confined to their homes.

France is on track to launch regional DAB+ services in parts of southwestern France in coming months, as well as planning the upcoming launch of national DAB+ services covering the main roads – starting with the Paris-Marseille route. While the outbreak of the pandemic may affect the exact timing of these launches, the development of France’s DAB+ network is very much progressing, and new DAB+ stations are continuing to surface in these uncertain times – in the last week, Top FM and RFI both launched on DAB+ in Marseille, with the latter also due to launch across a number of other locations in the near future.

Despite consumers’ increasing interest in DAB+ digital radio, broadcasters in France are now facing a difficult period, as the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus outbreak means that advertising revenues continue to plummet. Touching on the difficult times ahead for independent radio stations in France, the president of SIRTI – the French union of independent radio stations – Alain Liberty spoke to La Lettre Pro and pointed to public funding, and financial help for the deployment DAB+, as potential solutions to support independent radio stations facing uncertain futures.

This view was supported by Jean-Eric Valli, president of Les Indés Radio (a radio group formed composed of over 120 local radio stations), who touched on the importance of broadcast radio, and the current shortcomings in advertising revenue for radio stations – a drop of approximately 70-80% in May – and emphasised the need to support the deployment of DAB+ digital radio, and stop looking at internet over broadcast for radio.

Pointing to broadcast radio as a solution that will help alleviate some of the pressure on telecoms operators, Towercast's Raphaël Eyraud touched on the important role of DAB+ during this pandemic, which should – if anything – help move forward with the implementation of new national regulations on digital radio, in line with the EU’s EECC directive. Eyraud also highlighted that the planned launches of DAB+ services in Bordeaux and Toulouse in the summer, as well as the launch of national DAB+ services are going ahead, provided that the various DAB+ stakeholders are able to maintain their activity.

Commenting on the current situation of DAB+ in France, WorldDAB’s Jean-Marc Dubreuil said: “The pandemic is pointing to the criticality of broadcast radio in all countries. The unabated commitment of public or commercial radios to DAB+ is the key to the success of its deployment”.

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