During the Department of Communications 2006 – 2008 digital trials, there was considerable interest in DAB with many commercial operators taking part. However, just as RTE began establishing a national DAB network, including new exclusive stations RTE Gold, RTE Jnr etc, the financial crisis hit Ireland and commercial radio withdrew all interest. RTE were left to go-it-alone ever since.
Between 2010 and 2018 Comreg licenced a number of trial DAB services. These operated under a maximum 12 month licence with strict restrictions on operating commercially in any way. Some have incorrectly used the highly restrictive nature of those trial licences to describe DAB as a ‘failure’ whereas the actual participants would describe the opposite.
Today, industry attitudes to digital radio are changing.
In the BAI’s BSS Statement of Outcomes in October 2018, a mix of opinions regarding DAB were outlined. While there was considerable interest in DAB, some operators expressed concerns about the cost and impact of new stations in the market, pointing to Kantar research showing there was a lack of audience demand. Today, those same respondents have launched new digital stations on the industry’s official ‘Irish RadioPlayer’ app, while others have launched even more new stations on their own apps and websites with more to come.
As we approach a new decade with a wave of digital radio growth is flowing across Europe toward Ireland, there is an appetite for growth within the Irish industry.
DAB will give broadcasters this opportunity to expand, save up to 80% on traditional FM transmission costs and increase listener choice.