Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Interview with Gunnar Garfors

for the pic, thanks to Berit Roald, Scanpix

Gunnar Garfors is CEO of Norwegian Mobile TV Corporation (NMTV), he blogs here.

1) When and where were you born?

In Hammerfest, Norway (“the world’s northernmost city”) in May 29, 1975.

2) What is your first memory of radio?

The first thing I remember from the radio was the news about the Alexander Kielland oil rig that capsized in the North Sea on March 27, 1980, killing 123 people. My mom was pretty much in shock, something that made a big impression on a four year old. I remember the scary atmosphere and both the news reader and the reporters being very much effected of what they were reporting. I really started appreciating radio when I was a little older. My parents gave me a FM/SW/MW/LW radio that I used a lot and that taught me to love the power of radio and the great pictures it created. I listened to sports, quiz shows and youth programs from NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation) and to SW broadcasts from BBC and Radio Ulster in particular. The latter were playing great music and had a funny DJ at the time I was supposed to be sleeping.

3) What is your opinion about digital radio? Do you think it could work in any country?

Digital radio is a major part of the radio future. It opens up for more radio channels, easier navigation, better coverage and a lot of additional services that work together with the internet and open up for exciting opportunities when it comes to functionality and revenues. It can undoubtedly work in any country. We see that the de facto standard for digital radio, DMB/DAB/DAB+ is being adopted in over 40 countries. The standard is advanced, widespread, mature, already here and it secures equal digital opportunities for everyone.

4) Some experts like Grant Goddard (i interviewed him last year ) are skeptical about the transition to digital radio; what do you think about their views?

I do not consider Grant Goddard an expert in this field. He certainly knows radio from the content side, maybe he should concentrate on that. He portrays himself as a skeptic in order to get PR which he needs for his consultancy business. The best way he can get PR is to distance himself from broadcasters, listeners and advertisers. By doing that he gets to be the guy the media calls to get “the other view.” But what will he do when radio has gone digital, as is about to happen in Norway (FM switch off in 2017), Great Britain (announcement of switch over expected in 2013), Denmark (Minister of Culture wants to switch off FM) and other countries? I think he may be better off staying an expert on content and formatting, even though it will get him less airtime. His views are anyhow extremely conservative, at best. He is doing his best to prevent the transition radio needs, to go digital as the last media out there. Why does he not want to give everyone equal opportunities when it comes to radio? I want more choice, more money to better programs, better reception and easier usage. It is even much greener too. The transition for TV went smoothly, now providing better choice and quality to the vast majority of people. Many people will have to get new radios or to have them adapted, but this is also the case for all other receivers. People do for instance change much more expensive devices such as mobile phones and computers every 1-3 years. Why are radios different in this respect?

5) You are in favour of switching off FM; what should we do on 87,5-108 MHz?

Power companies are looking at these frequencies as a way of transferring data about electricity usage. Other machine to machine communications could also use these frequencies. Frequencies will in any case always be attractive. Offer them to businesses, and there will undoubtedly be good ideas.

6) What do you think of DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale)? Is there a future for digital radio below 30 Mhz?

DRM is great as a complement to DMB/DAB/DAB+ if you are looking to cover vast areas with few people with one or two radio stations. The DRM consortium should push for receivers that combine DMB/DAB/DAB+ and DRM. That way, they will be able to ride on the wave of the digital radio movement we are currently seeing. For DRM to stand on its own will be very difficult as I don’t think it in an isolated manner can compete from technical, financial or functional points of view.

1 comment:

Dennis Nilsson, Sweden said...

In the real world, de facto standard for digital radio is Internet radio, not DMB/DAB/DAB+.

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