DAB receives major setback as Germans and Swiss say no


The future of DAB radio took a bit of a kicking today when Germany and Switzerland’s commercial radio stations refused to invest in developing the DAB system to replace existing FM/AM transmissions. Their argument was that it didn’t make financial sense to do so.

The news has big repercussions for the UK and the rest of Europe. The Digital Britain report stated that the government would “work with our European partners, including the European Commission, to develop a common European approach to digital radio”. Well, it seems like all of the European partners aren’t interested in coming to the party.

The move could also be bad news for consumers. DAB radios are already much more expensive than their analogue brethren and the lack of a Europe-wide market is hardly going to help the cause. Car manufacturers are also less likely to include DAB radios in cars if they’ll only get maximum usage in selected countries.

The whole DAB scenario has been a bit of a shambles from the start really. Some DAB radios in the UK- reportedly as many as 9million – won’t even work if/when the system gets upgraded to the superior DAB+ system.

Campaigns such as Save FM argue that there is no need to take radio digital anyway – with many people arguing FM audio quality is, in fact, superior. The rise of internet radio also raises questions for the need of a digital radio network.

(via The Register)

YouTube adds Germany to the blocklist

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Not content with banning the UK from its ‘Premium’ music videos, YouTube has now done the same thing to its German users. Users located in Germany will no longer be able to watch content licensed by the major labels, following a dispute with collecting society GEMA.

The situation is exactly the same as the situation three weeks ago in the UK – where PRS for Music demanded higher streaming rates and Google removed access to music videos in protest. That situation is still unresolved.

(via MusicWeek)

Last.fm bans third party mobile streaming applications

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Last.fm has had rather a bad day for PR, making two very big, very bad announcements for its consumers. First of all, the company announced in a forum post they’re removing access to their API for third party mobile applications. That means that users of Mobbler on S60, Pocket Scrobbler on Windows Mobile, and FlipSide on BlackBerry devices will soon find themselves without a way of listening on the go.

The ‘official’ applications for the iPhone and Android will remain in action, which seems a little odd. If this is a licensing problem, surely the same rules are in place for whatever platform the content is delivered on? Relatedly, the service will also be stopping non-subscribers from accessing the radio APIs, simply because Last.fm wants more money.

Secondly, the company also announced in a blog post that it will begin charging for its previously free service outside of three countries – the UK, the USA and Germany. Customers anywhere else will be charged a fairly slim €3 per month for the service.

The company admits that the reason for this change is because it’s having trouble selling ads outside of these markets. The UK, USA and Germany all have relatively mature ad markets, where funding the service through advertising alone is possible. Outside of these countries, though, the company is having trouble.

What will remain free for all users is the scrobbling aspect of the site – where it charts your music taste and allows you to compare taste with friends and other users, as well as the social network that sits on top of everything. Although I’ve never pushed very hard to fill out my friends list on Last.fm, it’s grown incrementally over the years and now it’s not too bad.

I’m deeply disappointed that I’ll be losing access to Mobbler, even if it was a little rickety and didn’t work properly on the bus. Let’s hope that services like Slacker make their way over this side of the Atlantic sooner rather than later.

Last.fm forum and blog (via Gizmodo)

Dial4Light mobile phone controlled streetlights


You’ve got to hand it to the Germans. Certain movements in the earlier parts of the last century might not have done too much for the national image but by golly are they making up for it now. They’ve basically got everything sorted. Their trains run to the second, they’re big on beer and meat and now they’ve found a way to cut their electricity bills by 25% without upsetting anyone.

You see, inventor Dieter Grote has designed a system for the town of Morgenröthe-Rautenkranz whereby the streetlights can be controlled by mobile phone and so left switched off at night until…