I was at a WorldDMB Marketing Committee meeting today, which is a tremendously useful opportunity to network with people developing DAB Digital Radio in other countries, and to share information and best of practice. Most valuably, it’s a way of helping people overcome objections they’re facing in their own countries to the (further) development of DAB, primarily by providing case studies and information about what’s worked well (and what’s not worked so well) in similar situations.
The people around the table today were representative of the normal attendance of a MC Meeting, and indeed a reasonable cross-section of the DAB ecosystem; some broadcasters, some transmission providers, some multiplex providers – but we were missing a few manufacturers at this one. We were primarily from Northern Europe, which did reflect the meeting venue (Bern in Switzerland, as guests of SRG SSR idee suisse, who are energetic protagonists of DAB/DAB+ and deserve to have a lot of success).
What struck me from the discussion is how local radio has remained, by which I mean we really don’t have a dialogue between radio stations that crosses borders. Even with owners like SBS, RTL, NRJ, I don’t see much common strategy for the development of radio across Europe or beyond, and that worries me somewhat because the newcomers that radio is battling against are pretty much all global in nature. Last.fm may be based in London, but I’m sure they see themselves talking to a global market; similarly Pandora, or iTunes or the music industry as a whole. Yet in radio, we still develop strategy and direction in national isolation, apart from rare “international” meetings and conferences, and informal chats in the bar.
I’m not necessarily proposing the consolidation of radio across Europe, and centralisation of control; that would largely defeat one of the facets of radio that listeners appreciate. But surely we can get smarter about networking with our neighbours in Europe and beyond?
One of the outcomes of today’s meeting was to be more pro-active about going out and talking about radio’s digital future to our colleagues outside Europe, which of course means new and unfamiliar territories. There will be meetings in Asia and the Middle East to try and engage with the people who are making radio there, which will no doubt be both challenging and fascinating in equal turns. It’s good to see the industry realising the opportunity to act globally