What we’ve achieved in 2016

Nick Piggott,

As we get towards the end of 2016, we thought it would be useful to review some of our activities and give you an update on our progress creating an open ecosystem for hybrid radio.

Some of activities are marked Member priority. That means we give our members preferential access, consult with them in more detail, and they can guide the process in more detail. You can find out about becoming a member here.

Open Standards

We continue to be the only organisation globally promoting an open approach to hybrid radio, which mirrors the way that broadcast radio works today. RadioDNS plays no role in the connection between the listener and the radio station, we have no profit motive, and our ambition is to create an interoperable ecosystem that works like broadcast, where devices and services can come from a plurality of competing providers.

Project Logo

We want broadcast radio to look great, particularly in the car. Project Logo makes visible the benefits of hybrid by establishing a common set of metadata, like logos and genre info, from radio stations. It has given manufacturers confidence that they can design great user interfaces that relies on hybrid metadata from radio stations, and  broadcasters know that they’re in direct control of their metadata, so they have more influence on how their radio station appears to listeners.

During 2016 we achieved big increases in the amount radio listening in Europe that has metadata available using our standards, mainly through co-operation with the EBU and Radioplayer. Have a look at our coverage.

We’ve been working hard through 2016 to setup similar options in the US and Canada, and we will keep working on it during 2017.

Automotive Workshop

Member priority

The car is a significant place for radio listening, and it’s undergoing a revolution of its own. Radio needs to secure its place in the dashboard by matching the innovations happening around it.

In July 2016 we brought together the automotive industry and broadcasters to discuss ten topics. Out of that, we launched our initiative to establish guidelines on how manufacturers can use broadcaster metadata. You can listen to the discussion of themes here.

We’ll be putting another workshop together in early 2017, where we’ll pick up on those topics and see what progress we’re making. Join our mailing list if you want to be notified when it happens.

RadioDays Europe and NAB Show

Meeting broadcasters lets us show them the benefits of hybrid radio to their listeners, and gets them engaged with our mission. RadioDays Europe and NAB Show are the leading broadcaster conventions on each side of the Atlantic.

At RadioDays Europe we were able to demonstrate hybrid radio in a car for the first time, and at the NAB Show we were demonstrating the same hybrid radio functionality using a car radio device, along with our member Pluxbox.

We’ll be attending both shows again next year, with the latest on what’s happening with hybrid radio.

Testing and Trademarks

Member priority

Everyone needs to have confidence that RadioDNS hybrid radio works well for listeners. We will only let use people use our trademark if we have tested that their platform/device is working according to our specifications .

In 2016 we launched our testing platform for manufacturers to be able to check that their devices work according to our specifications, and if they do, we will issue them with a licence to use our trademark for that device. We’ve protected the trademark in many countries globally, so we can prevent it being misused on devices that aren’t properly compliant.

In 2017 we’ll expand the testing service to cover more functionality, and to test systems used by broadcasters.

Industry Project Support

Member priority

RadioDNS is part of a radio industry that’s developing and innovating in lots of directions. We want to work together with projects that are compatible with our mission.

During 2016 we worked with US broadcasters to ensure that the thousands of new FM translator sites being rolled out will be compatible with RadioDNS from day one. We also worked with projects looking to include radio functionality in smartphones, and understanding why station logos become inaccurate in car radios.

Technical Standards

Member priority

Our technical standards are at the centre of our open approach to enabling hybrid radio. They have to meet the needs of the radio industry to deliver a better experience of radio to listeners.

In 2016 we proposed updates to our standards based on valuable insight from our members. Those changes support functionality as diverse as voice recognition in vehicles, providing enhanced metadata, and describing programmes more accurately.

Our standards are living documents, so we’ll keep listening to what functionality our members need during 2017.

Communication

We’re a collaborative project, which only progresses when we talk with and listen to lots of diverse companies and people.

In 2016 we met frequently with broadcasters all over the world, and with manufacturers and the automotive industry. We were invited to present the concept of hybrid radio at events globally, to lay out our vision of how hybrid radio could be better than either broadcast or IP alone.

Our 2017 plan continues that engagement and listening, growing our ecosystem that supports everyone in the radio industry.

Guidelines for Metadata and Content

Nick Piggott,

We want listeners to have the best experience of broadcast radio, and we know broadcasters and manufacturers share very similar goals.

Last month we started an initiative to make it easier for broadcasters and manufacturers to understand how metadata and content provided using RadioDNS’ standards could be used.

We received some very valuable feedback, and as a result, we’ve renamed the document to become Guidelines for broadcaster supplied metadata and content for Broadcast Radio Services

The new name, and the quite significant revisions to the text, reflect that we’re trying to help establish a common ground for tacitly approved use, not restrict the use of metadata and content. We think our standards are useful tools for broadcasters and manufacturers, but using our tools doesn’t imply that broadcasters are also providing all of their metadata and content for entirely unrestricted use either. We’re looking for that pragmatic middle ground use which most people will agree to.

Comments are open until 4th November 2016.

You can comment in the discussion thread, or you can email the project office on feedback@radiodns.org

This is just one part of our mission to create an open hybrid radio system that can deliver innovation by combining broadcast radio and IP.

A Fair Use Policy for Metadata and Content

Nick Piggott,

What constitutes fair use of a broadcaster’s metadata and content?

RadioDNS’ technical standards allow broadcasters to provide large amounts of metadata and content to manufacturers, so that they can create a better experience of broadcast radio. It’s a very valuable set of data to be able to add into a receiver.

At our Automotive and Broadcaster Workshop, we discussed the implications of making this data widely available, and agreed that a Fair Use Policy would help create a common understanding on acceptable use. As we’ve got over 80% of radio stations in some European countries providing this data under Project Logo , and more stations launching all the time, now is the time to have the discussion.

We’ve published the first draft version today, and we want you to give us your thoughts – either in this discussion thread or by emailing the project office directly.

Why have a Fair Use Policy?

The fair use policy helps everyone agree a common vision on how metadata and content should be used to improve radio, and also make it easier to agree what misuse looks like.

This isn’t a universal licence or contract document. Broadcasters will still own the rights to their content, and can licence it how they choose. What we hope is that that broadcasters will offer free licences that will work with our Fair Use Policy, and that manufacturers who stick to the Fair Use Policy will be confident that they can get licences from all broadcasters.

The issuing and enforcement of licences won’t be something that RadioDNS gets involved with, but we may play a role in making the licensing process easier for manufacturers.

An Example of Fair Use

Under Project Logo (which the Fair Use Policy encompasses), broadcasters provide 5 logos for each radio station. Radio station logos change, probably more often than some manufacturers realise.

The broadcaster can say how long the device may cache the logos for (we’re recommending a week). Once the cache time has ended, the device must either update the logos or delete them. It mustn’t show out of date logos.

That means that it’s OK for a manufacturer to put logo functionality onto a device if it can be updated, but it’s NOT OK to put them on a device that can’t be updated. Any the logos must always be deleted once the cache time specified by the broadcaster has expired.

We hope to publish the first version of our Fair Use Policy by November, so please have a look through it and comment soon.

Meta-data – the best weapon in the dashboard battle

Nick Piggott,

On Tuesday we held our first Automotive / Broadcaster Workshop, where we talked about Ten Themes for implementing hybrid radio in the car. If you head over to the Workshop page, you’ll find on-demand audio/video of each of those Ten Themes and a document to download with the conclusions of each of those sessions.

As we talked, is became clear that the competitive battleground for radio is changing, and broadcasters need to adapt right now. The historic battleground of music, production and personalities is beginning to look like a zero-sum-gain fight on a battleground that’s shrinking. Car manufacturers are looking at a growing wave of content availability in the car – largely enabled by IP connectivity, but also by the ability of digital radio platforms to deliver far more choice – and working out how to make sense of that for the driver.

And the answers they’re coming up with all favour content providers who also provide rich, attractive and searchable meta-data. You may have the best breakfast show in town, but if you can’t work out how to describe that in a way that a machine, an algorithm, can understand, you will sink out of sight. If radio, as a whole industry, can’t get meta-data right, the whole medium will fade out from the dashboard.

“Meta-data” is a foreign language to many broadcasters, and the concept seems abstract and difficult to contextualise in a traditional radio production model.

We talked about the companies who are providing solutions to this problem, who can make sense of the meta-data that broadcasters have and can provide recommendation engines to manufacturers. It’s good that there’s a number of them, because that creates competition for innovation and customers.

This is relevant to RadioDNS for two reasons.

Firstly, everyone agreed that IP is the absolutely the best way to deliver all this additional data to the car, and RadioDNS provides a trusted and open way of linking broadcast and IP.

Secondly, and more importantly, RadioDNS’ standards establish for IP the same degree of freedom and interoperability that broadcasters and manufacturers expect today from broadcast radio. If you buy in a technical system that is compliant to RadioDNS’ standards, you can be confident it will work with all the other systems, and you have the freedom to change to another supplier without any risk.

Here’s a diagram to illustrate what that means.

As long as you buy in technology that has the RadioDNS standard interfaces – the green line in this diagram – it doesn’t matter what lies behind it. RadioDNS will soon be launching our certification system, which will validate those interfaces and allow only those products and services that pass testing to claim RadioDNS functionality.

Tuesday’s discussion was wide-ranging, and exposed some very important questions that need to be answered by both broadcasters and manufacturers. However, there was unanimity that radio must use IP connectivity to the car to deliver more meta-data about radio content, and that we must protect the open and interoperable concept of broadcast radio, and RadioDNS is at the centre of both those objectives.

Ten Themes in our Automotive and Broadcaster Workshop

Nick Piggott,

We’ve wanted to bring together automotive manufacturers and broadcasters for some time.

We get to talk to both parties a lot, and it’s sometimes frustrating to see that they share a common vision of a brilliant, modern, experience of radio, but then fail to understand how each one wants to create and deliver it. It’s this failure to agree on implementation that’s holding back getting to that shared vision.

So on 5th July 2016, we’re going to bring together automotive manufacturers and broadcasters from around the world in a one day event to examine ten themes crucial to the future experience of radio in the car. The format of the day will be different to the usual conference setup, as it will be an open discussion of each issue in detail, looking to find a consensus view on how to remove obstacles and accelerate development. There will be no dividing line between “the panel” and “the audience”.

The ten themes reflect the discussions that RadioDNS has most often between broadcasters and manufacturers looking to keep radio prominent and relevant in the car. As the driving experience becomes more sophisticated and more influenced by technology, these issues reflect the growing demand from the automotive industry to deliver similar innovations for radio.

You can find out what those Ten Themes are, and all the other details about the workshop, on the workshop page. Registration for RadioDNS members is open now, and for non-members from 14th June 2016.

TDF Group joins RadioDNS Hybrid Radio

Nick Piggott,

TDF Group, Europe’s leading media distribution company, has become the latest member of RadioDNS Hybrid Radio. TDF’s businesses help broadcasters distribute their content to consumers, and develop new technology to improve the value of media consumption. TDF has long standing experience providing transmission to radio stations in France, in both FM and using DAB/DMB.

In line with their ambition to improve the value of broadcast, TDF will be developing hybrid radio services for their customers, including systems to automate alignment of broadcast and IP streaming to create a truly seamless transition between the two.

We’re very pleased to welcome TDF to the membership of RadioDNS, and we’re looking forward to working with them to develop their services based around RadioDNS.