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And now, the news - something clever from the Swiss

A crafty new radio service for connected televisions from Switzerland

By James Cridland
Posted 14 November 2014, 6.07am est
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I've been in Biel in Switzerland (or Bienne, si vous aimez), speaking at a management conference from SRG SSR, the Swiss public service broadcasters. Typically, it was a conference in the four different languages of Switzerland, and like a lazy Brit, I spoke none of them; but I did learn that Boris Johnson is universally funny in any language.

At the coffee break, I spied an HBB television, and went to learn a little more. HBBtv is a connected TV system enabling enhanced functionality: a bit like "connected red button" in the UK, a layer delivered partially by broadcast and partially by broadband. We're getting this system under the guise of "Freeview Connect" in the next few years.

All the SRG SSR radio stations are available through this system. Nicely, when tuning into a Swiss TV channel, a very short overlay appears, promoting radio through the 'red button' with a bunch of radio station logos: some prime-time advertising that radio benefits from.

Once in the radio service, it's a little disappointing. Above, in the worst photograph ever taken of a TV screen, I'm tuned into Radio Swiss Pop, a non-stop music service; it has a tiny logo and a small suspiciously-128-character-looking piece of dynamic text, showing me that I'm listening to Queen. The audio comes over the broadband connection.

The lower half of the screen says "Select a news channel from..." and then shows speech station Radio 1 and youth station Radio 3. And it's this that is interesting and clever.

I can listen to Radio Swiss Pop non-stop; no news, no presenters, just music... or, I can ask the television to switch channel for the news (and switch back when it's finished).

This is relatively simple personalisation that offers listeners a choice of staying connected with the outside world, or not doing so. And in a world where personalisation is increasingly key, something I suspect listeners would like (assuming the user experience is clear).

A clever idea from the Swiss: worth noting (and even copying).

James Cridland — James is the Managing Director of media.info, and a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. His website is at james.cridland.net, where you can subscribe to his weekly newsletter.
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