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Future of German DAB unclear

Germany is to scale down DAB investment following an announcement from the KEF, the body which distributes the licence fee for public broadcasters, that less money will be allocated for digital broadcasting this year, saying any money spent on DAB would be wasted.

Only 200,000 DAB receivers have been sold in the country, which has a population of 83 million.

Now the working radio group Forum Digitale Medien has the task of coming up with a plan to re-launch digital broadcasting in the country next year. Around the internet, The Register reported [i][link=http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/01/28/germany_switches_dab_off/]Germany flicks off-switch on DAB[/link][/i], whilst Blogger Nick Piggott tells the [link=http://nick.piggott.name/blog/2008/01/28/a-german-melodrama-part-ii/][b]true[/b][/link] story.

On January 21st, the KEF issued its recommendations for the funding of public broadcasters for digital radio in Germany. German public broadcasters will receive 97 million Euros for the roll out of digital radio and mobile broadcasting in the period from 2009 to 2012. But the KEF has also been persuaded to suggest alternative technical standards for digital radio, a move that has caused a barrage of criticism for the commission.

In response, the public and commercial broadcasters have issued statements confirming their commitment to the roll out of Digital Radio based on the DAB family of standards.

Herbert Tillmann, chairman of the production commission of public broadcasters in Germany states: “ARD, Deutschlandradio and the Private broadcasters are committed to ensuring a successful re-launch of digital radio in 2009. The KEF’s recommendations must not leave behind a complete technological mess, solutions have to be developed now in order to ensure the active participation of the public service broadcasters”.

Quentin Howard, President of WorldDMB, said: "It is no surprise to me that Germany's public and private broadcasters have rejected the suggestion that alternative technology choices for terrestrial digital radio are either practical or desirable. Germany already has transmission infrastructure in place for DAB, DAB+ and DMB, and because these all share a common technical standard there are enormous practical benefits for consumers including around four hundred digital radio models which are already being sold in other European countries, with prices from under 40 Euros".

Following the Geneva 2006 spectrum planning conference, considerably more frequencies have been allocated for digital radio, new more efficient audio codecs have been developed and the restrictions of transmitting power, which previously impaired in door reception in Germany, have been lifted. Furthermore, for the first time in Germany both the public and private broadcasters have the support of the regional media authorities, the receiver and automotive manufacturers as well as the retailers for the roll out of DAB based technology.

Helmut Egenbauer, CEO Media Broadcast states: “The signs from the industry which we are currently receiving are encouraging and therefore nobody has stepped on the brake for the planned re-launch of digital radio in the year 2009”.

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