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‘David and Goliath’ contest to keep radios in cars – IBI



‘David and Goliath’ contest to keep radios in cars – IBI

The Chief Executive of the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland group has said the radio industry faces a “David and Goliath” contest as it lobbies to ensure radios are kept in vehicles amid moves to replace them with direct online access.

Attempts by some car companies to replace radios with direct online access have been met with a sharp rebuke from the Irish radio sector.

It is lobbying, at the highest European level, to ensure all new car models keep radios, amid fears they could be replaced by a digital model.

The European Broadcasting Union earlier this year said that as the automative industry accelerates towards a future dominated by connected vehicles, there is a risk of traditional broadcast radio being “sidelined”, adding that radio should be visible and easy to find in cars, “placing user experience at the forefront”.

It has proposed practical steps, such as ensuring that radio is always easy to reach with a dedicated physical or virtual button.

It also highlights that with radio “being the most listened-to form of entertainment in most European countries”, it is ready to work with the automotive industry “to help give audiences – their customers – what they want”.

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Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, IBI Chief Executive Michael Kelly said it is important that radio “continues to be available at peoples’ fingertips and on the dashboard of the car”.

He said it is important for broadcasters, as over 40% of people in Ireland listen to radio when in the car, and important for listeners as they get better service from broadcast availability than through using apps.

Radio is much more reliable, he added, as the signal does not break down.

When asked whether it was too late to turn the tide given many car models now come with digital-only versions, Mr Kelly said it was a “David and Goliath contest”, which was why they have banded together with stations around Europe to lobby for radio.

“We’re really lobbying hard for public representatives in the European Parliament and the Dáil to support this, because it’s so important that consumers can choose the broadcaster they want to hear rather than being forced to pay a subscription or hand over their personal data in order to listen to a radio service.

Mr Kelly said it was important that there was a “level playing field”.

“We believe that is so important that there’s a level playing field and an option for people. All we’re saying is we want a button on the car dashboard. We’re not saying that you can’t listen to Spotify or any of the other services, but we’re just saying give radio a chance.”

Mr Kelly said there had been very good engagement with a number of car manufacturers including Renault, Volvo and Volkswagon.

“I think we’re going to continue doing that as its important to get that message across that radio is the tried and test solution, so leave us have that”.

Asked if he accepted that the move to digital output may be the future of broadcasting, Mr Kelly said that statistics show around 8%-10% of people access radio through their smart phone or an app, but the majority of people still access FM radio through the normal channels.

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