The future of radio in South Africa [podcast] - TechCentral

The future of radio in South Africa [podcast]

In this special TechCentral podcast, TechCentral editor Duncan McLeod sits down with the experts on digital radio in South Africa to talk about the country’s digital audio broadcasting (DAB+) and Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) trials.

What’s been learnt from the trials, and, perhaps more importantly, when can consumers expect commercial services to be launched?

Also in the podcast, the panel talks about what’s holding back roll-out and adoption of digital radio.

The panellists are Primedia Broadcasting CEO Omar Essack, Southern African Digital Broadcasting Association (Sadiba) chairman Lynn Mansfield, South African DRM consortium member and adviser to Radio Pulpit Chris Joubert, and Dave Cherry, chairman of the Sadiba/National Association of Broadcasters Digital Working Group (focused on DAB+).

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Dave Cherry, left, with Lynn Mansfield (photo: Regardt van der Berg)

From left, Omar Essack, Chris Joubert and Duncan McLeod (photo: Regardt van der Berg)

We’d love your feedback — please use the comments box below this article. — (c) 2017 NewsCentral Media


  1. Greg Mahlknecht on

    Excellent podcast. Immensly informative. So nice to listen to experts that know their facts rather than the usual “analysts” making wild guesses. 10/10.

  2. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    Both DAB+ and DRM are proven technologies and there seems to be the tendency of what I would call wasteful expenditure proving that the wheel is capable of rotating.

    Take-up should become the main focus of these trials and mobile phones with integrated DAB+ are the best bet for our market – providing that you can establish a working partnership with the networks…

    …there’s no motivation for the networks to promote a phone like the LG Stylus or even RadioDNS enabled devices because the revenue for them is from data that consumers purchase to stream radio services.

    For this to work, I believe you need a real worthwhile carrot for the networks working together with the broadcasters; and what may be an attractive proposition is ad-splitting the DAB+ service of popular stations and offering the DAB+ ad-spots to the partnering network for marketing giving them cost savings on booking charges currently on analogue… pop-up stations with different programming is an absolute must have.

  3. First class interview and podcast Duncan and great to hear old friend Dave Cherry is still so active in a field in which he has been passionate for so long. In my view the real challenge is not going to be coverage so much as monetisation of services and the role and take-up of ‘traditional’ advertising and the search for alternatives.

  4. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    >>so much as monetisation of services and the role and take-up of ‘traditional’ advertising and the search for alternatives.

    Bang! on-point Malcolm –

    With such an 8 month DAB+ trial coming up… the challenge should be to get as many consumers as possible to experience the DAB+ services; and that would definitely require a partnering network to ship in and promote a targeted number of DAB+ mobile devices.

    There’s very little focus on monetisation of the DAB+ services during these trials when there is in fact plenty of opportunity to do exactly that.

    On the FreeVision DTH service from Sentech you will find a monetized Vodacom in-store channel utilizing capacity for a TV service when the content offering is predominantly graphic in nature; and most of the viewers of this channel would already be patrons that have walked into a Vodashop.

    With 20 radio services on a DAB+ offering; why not approach the trial with a view of having a “Vodacom Select DAB+ Radio Bouquet” – the same usual culprits of pilot service offerings, only this time Ad-splitting the DAB+ Ad-spots to advertise the partnering network; and now –

    …you’ve also created an ideal proposition to a retail partner as well; in rather than having a large investment for their own in-store radio, they can partner in the trial and their advertising is also carried on the “Vodacom Select DAB+ Radio Bouquet” with a choice given to the staff in-store to select any of the same usual culprits of pilot services which would be their favorite.

    If the target is to sell 500K DAB+ mobile units with a partner like Vodacom, over a six month campaign, during the 8 month trial; that is definitely achievable even with the same old boring Brixton an Kameel Drift sites.

    The monetisation is really not an issue and a similar proposition involving taverns on a DAB trial, more than a decade ago, to SABMiller was a no-brainer for them. The volumes of product sold in-store went up with just the one weekly pop-up station that was on Friday evenings but what they would’ve really appreciated is reaching the consumer that wasn’t in the tavern and that is now also possible on such devices as the LG Stylus.

    With such trial campaigns that will have a focus on take-up and monetisation, one can then definitely look at extending the trial coverage area to include CPT and DBN and then a target of selling a million DAB+ mobile units becomes realistic for a trial period of 12 months.

  5. Totally agree Vusumuzi and some radical re-thinking along the lines you’ve mentioned is going to be needed. There is no persuader to listen simply because delivery is free. Persuasive content to secure an audience has always been the requirement and I can’t see that changing…

  6. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    This very podcast with Duncan can work as a Live weekly pop-up TC radio station in partnership with an SAfm or 702; splitting the DAB+ transmission for a lunch-time broadcast slot and having ad-breaks with the partnering network for the trial…

    …the opportunities are definitely there; and during the Live broadcast the slideshow and interactivity features of the DAB+ platform can also be demonstrated with the same being extended to RadioDNS where there’s no DAB+ coverage –

    The radical re-thinking isn’t going to come from the same guys that have always conducted these trials from a technical approach – it’s now time to involve creative thinkers and have set targets of getting as many devices as possible in the hands of consumers so that they can experience the benefits of digital.

  7. Johannes M. V. Weyssenhoff on

    Without DRM there will be no space for community radio in a fully digital radio world. Both standards will be needed. But it is a great opportunity for South Africa to develop a new industry for multi standard receivers.

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