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The Social Shaping of European Digital Radio
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC).
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This study examines the social shaping of digital radio in Europe and provides new insights about the main competing technologies and the discourses built around their capabilities.

The radio frequency spectrum is a limited resource and in order to be used in the most efficient way different organizations have been researching optimizing standards since the mid-1980s. The Eureka-147 project produced the first European digital broadcasting standard DAB whose development have been initially fostered by public service broadcasters and electronics manufacturers, consequently by commercial broadcasters and governmental institutions.

The design and policy of DAB did not manage to grasp the attention and support of all the actors present in the nascent digital radio industry. A decade after its launch DAB was followed by other digital radio standards, as DAB+ and DRM, in the role of complements/competitors. At the same time the Internet started to be used as infrastructure for delivering radio or sound entertainment content.

Thirty years after the beginning of the European digital radio experience, the picture is still complex and no technology achieved a complete and harmonized implementation. Across Europe, countries have been involved in the digitalization of radio to different extent: Norway announced FM transmissions shutdown in 2017, UK and Switzerland have developed an almost nationally wide digital network coverage and are about to run their switchover plans, some other countries as Sweden and Italy are still in a transmission-trial and evaluation phase.

The history of digital radio in Europe offers ground for a Social Shaping of Technology analysis as exposed in “The Social construction of technological systems” (1987) by Wiebe Bijker, Thomas Hughes and Trevor Pinch. The Social Shaping of Technology claims that technologies and their outcomes are always socially negotiated. According to this theoretical framework and in particular to the Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) methodology, it is possible to highlight a number of social groups negotiating the final technology in the development of every artefact. In particular SCOT allows to find points of interpretative flexibility, namely diverging interpretations that different groups have of a same technology or a particular feature of it. These arguments or discourses are built around a technology or its features in order to foster a particular concerns of the corresponding group.

This master thesis analyses the development of digital radio in Europe according to the framework provided by the Social Shaping of Technology, enriching the number of case studies that have been conducted following this framework. In this way the dissertation “The Social Shaping of European Digital Radio” provides an overview on the social, political and economic forces which negotiated the technology throughout its development and provides a deeper understanding of the overall digital media technology industry. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 100 p.
Keyword [en]
digital radio, european, europe, dab, dab+, drm, social shaping, england, uk, switzerland, sweden, italy, norway, switchover
National Category
Telecommunications Media Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-177579OAI: diva2:873397
Subject / course
Media Technology
Educational program
Master of Science - Media Management
2015-09-25, 1625, Lindstedtsvägen 3, 11428, Stockholm, 14:15 (English)
Available from: 2015-12-16 Created: 2015-11-24 Last updated: 2015-12-16Bibliographically approved

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