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Digital radio – the fight for diffusion in Germany

Juergen Steinheber (School of Business, Plymouth University, Plymouth, UK and Faculdade de Economia, Administração e Contabilidade (FEA-USP), Universidade do São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil)


ISSN: 1463-6697

Article publication date: 5 August 2014




The diffusion of digital radio has experienced more challenges than for digital TV regarding a digital switchover. The purpose of this paper shows on the specific case of Germany, which difficulties the digital sound broadcasting technology of Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) has been facing from several points of view. The difficulties are reviewed and outlined to overcoming different barriers and to facilitating its diffusion.


The paper analyses how the diffusion of digital radio is perceived by industry representatives such as radio consultants and several stakeholders along the value chain of the radio industry. In semi-structured interviews, participants describe and evaluate the challenges for DAB as digital audio broadcasting standard mainly in Germany.


After two decades of deploying digital radio in Germany, its success is still missing. Various very different aspects have prevented the diffusion of the new technology. Among various barriers, the radio industry sees missing benefits, marketing errors and a lack of inter-industrial collaboration as barriers in a retro-perspective.

Research limitations/implications

The analysis does not cover other countries, where DAB as standard was introduced. Also other standards for digital radio are not considered.

Practical implications

With referring to barriers for digital radio, there is a scope for those countries about to introduce the technology to troubleshoot the failings of overcoming barrier. An idea can emerge, how authorities and industrial stakeholders can help to facilitate the diffusion of digital radio. It also indicates the need of governmental interaction for the coordination of a technology introduction in a network industry.

Social implications

The theoretical model, referred to, gives a good overview of potential diffusion barriers as most identified problems for the German case. The model and the illustrated problems of the paper can be used in practice to manage potential diffusion problems during technology introductions.


There is a lack of published information about the faced challenges for the diffusion of digital radio. The retro-perspective benefits from the broad experience of participants having observed the challenges of the past decade with DAB in Germany. Additionally, the results are mapped to a theoretical framework with limits for the diffusion of innovation for generalising.



The author thanks his prior team colleagues in sales and marketing in the broadcasting industry for their support and understanding. Advice given by supervisors from Plymouth University and Universidade do São Paulo has been and continues to be a great help in researching the topic of diffusion of innovation. A professional editor, Thomas Rickard, provided comprehensive copyediting and proofreading services for this article.


Steinheber, J. (2014), "Digital radio – the fight for diffusion in Germany", info, Vol. 16 No. 5, pp. 70-85.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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