France’s Multimedia Radio Choice Ruffles Feathers

France has decided to eschew the DAB+ standard for its digital radio rollout and use the DMB format more commonly associated with mobile TV delivery, despite criticism the move will fragment the nascent market. UK regulator Ofcom wrote to French authorities in August to warn against the move. But France approved DMB last week, arguing it can broadcast pictures, low-bitrate video or interactive graphics alongside radio stations.

Indeed, the standard requires a visual stream be present. But Digital Radio Tech said the decision was “ridiculous”, arguing the quality of video that can be carried by the less efficient DMB format is so poor any multimedia payoff is negligible. Both DMB and DAB+ are upgrades of DAB – 19.5 percent of Britons now own a DAB radio set, Ofcom said in August. The BBC is experimenting with adding visual elements to radio, too, its own Click show reports this week – but it’s more likely to be text information add-ons than streaming video.

(Photo: Gordon Joly, some rights reserved)