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Germany flicks off-switch on DAB

Struggling to be heard

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Germany will end Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) next year after a ten years experiment. Public radio stations demanded another €180m to keep it going, but the independent commission responsible for the allocation of licence fees says it is over.

DAB has been under development since 1981, and Germany was the first country in Europe to start test transmissions. However, the technology never caught on - only a couple of public and regional radio stations participated in experiments and 200,000 digital receivers were sold.

Part of the problem is that analogue FM never went away and most people didn't seem to care for the clear digital-quality sound, and were left nonplussed by such benefits as easy tuning and message displays with song names and titles.

DAB is struggling almost everywhere in Europe. The standard never really succeeded in Europe except in Denmark and the UK, where this year the upgraded DAB+ format will be launched (including podcast services).

Experts believe Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB) and DVB-T have surpassed DAB technically. German public broadcaster ARD says it will somehow continue experiments with digital radio. ®

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