French TV regulatory body CSA will finally launch digital terrestrial radio this year it has announced, and deliver authorisations to the stations pre-selected since 2008 in Paris, Marseille and Nice.

Three years ago, 55 radios stations had been selected in Paris, 41 in Marseille and 40 in Nice, but nothing came out of it afterwards.  Another call for bids will also be launched regarding twenty big French cities.

The CSA, for whom the subject is being handled by Counsellor Rachid Arhab, is looking to reach 50 % of the population covered. Since the law of 2007, the launch of digital radio has been constantly postponed owing to the opposition shown by biggest groups, for which the broadcasting costs were too high. “We’ll never get all actors agree on the question at the same time but there’s a moment where the regulator must apply the law,” Rachid Arhab explained. “Only 30 % of the French listeners are receiving more than 10 radio stations over the territory. Digitalisation will allow all the others to get as many as radio stations as in biggest cities or in Paris.”

In the same time, CSA would like France to adopt the DAB+ norm as currently used in Germany. It would complement the selected but more expensive norm T-DMB.

In the mid-term, digital radio will replace analogue radio, and like for the TV switchover last November, will necessitate households to change their radios. In the meantime, double broadcasting will pre-exist for an undetermined lapse of time.