France's CSA Issues Permits for Digital Radio in Paris, Nice, Marseille

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Paris - Jan 22, 2013 - Terrestrial digital radio will become a reality in Paris, Nice and Marseille before the end of the year, according to Les Echos. Permits for 106 new stations have been issued by the CSA for those three cities, and the recipients have two months to form multiplexes/operating companies that will become responsible for the distribution of the new signals. The first transmissions are slated to hit the air next autumn.

The four main private radio groups in France (Lagardèe Active, RTL, NRJ and NextRadioTV) have never hidden their opposition to digital radio and did not participate in the call for applications last year. They blame the digital radio weakness on its economic model, especially given the double distribution costs that will be incurred, and prefer the radio over the Internet. Neither the current French government nor the previous has supported digital radio.

The start of the digital radio service in Paris, Marseille and Nice will allow many groups their initial access to the airwaves. New signals will include Goom Radio, B2B Internet radio, the radio version EuroNews, and the Trace Group, which will create several channels. With 60 stations on air in Paris, groups like these had no options for licensing previously. The FM band is too crowded there. However, that does not hold true for all of France: According to the CSA, 30 percent of French people have access to less than 10 radio stations on the FM band.

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