How can favourite music and personal interests in announcements be combined on linear radio, what technologies are necessary and how does it sound to the audience?
The Bayerische Medien Technik (bmt) together with the Bavarian Regulatory Authority for new media (BLM), Mediaschool Bayern, Bayerische Lokal-Radioprogramme (BLR) and Bayern Digital Radio (BDR), is investigating the combination of music-only programmes with an announcement channel in digital radio DAB+. The project has a duration of 14 months and is funded by the Bavarian State Chancellery.
In the project, different music genres (e.g. electro, country, jazz) are broadcast in parallel to an information channel via DAB+ in the test ensemble 10D in Bavaria. The announcements are categorised and technically signalled according to the 10 types road traffic flash, transport flash, news flash, warnings, special event, event announcement, area weather flash, programme information, financial report and sport report (DAB Announcement feature). On the reception side, listeners can individually choose the available announcement types on a radio supporting this feature. In case of an announcement, the radio fades out the music, switches to the information channel and returns back to the music programme afterwards. Due to the technical clustering in the project, the announcement feature will only be available for the provided music programmes.
The basic idea of automated radio announcements is not completely new. “Autofahrer Rundfunk Information” (ARI) already existed in FM broadcasting since the 1970s followed by RDS traffic announcement. With DAB technology, the announcement feature was expanded again. For example, the new service for population warning in DAB (Emergency Warning Service EWS) is also based on this feature. In the context of an increased individualised listening behaviour, the potential of DAB announcements is now to be investigated in a larger context.
In addition to the implementation of the basic idea, the project also deals with other topics, such as the cloud-based production of music programmes, speech synthesis of spoken content, virtualisation of the DAB multiplexer and the IP-based contribution to the DAB transmitter. The project also includes the evaluation of various receivers and a user survey.
The service can be received in the next months in the coverage area of the DAB+ test ensemble 10D in Bavaria with digital radios, which technically support the announcement feature.