Directive (EU) 2018/1972 of the European Parliament and of the Council of December 11, 2018, establishing the European Electronic Communications Code (‘EECC’) entered into force on December 20, 2018. Member states have two years to incorporate it into national law, except where specifically mentioned.
Radio is an important medium through which citizens access a diverse range of information news and entertainment services. The EECC leverages on the ever-increasing connectivity of new generation cars as well as on the digital platforms of radio broadcasters to guarantee a more robust radio experience to all drivers, ensuring good coverage, a wider choice of radio stations and more effective access to information at all times. The EECC ensures that car drivers have access to the benefits of digital terrestrial radio wherever in the EU they have bought their new car.
On April 21, the minister responsible for communications, in consultation with the Malta Communications Authority, published Legal Notice 151 of 2020 amending the Electronic Communications Network and Services (General) Regulations, implementing the provision of the EECC dealing with the interoperability of car radio devices. In line with the regulation, any car radio receiver integrated in a new vehicle of category M which is made available on the market for sale or rent in Malta from December 21, 2020, shall comprise a receiver capable of receiving and reproducing at least radio services provided by digital terrestrial radio broadcasting of type DAB+. Radio programmes in Malta are broadcast terrestrially on DAB+.
The car radio requirement only applies to new cars. The classification of what constitutes a car is based on the European definition of vehicle categories, which puts cars into vehicle category M. Radios in used cars do not have to be equipped to receive digital terrestrial radio and no retrofitting is required. The obligation to build in a DAB+ digital terrestrial receiver does not apply to car radios in the after-sales market.
In October 2019 the MCA consulted on proposed amendments to legislation in order to implement the provision set out in Article 113 (1) of the EECC regarding the interoperability of radio devices. The response to consultation can be found at https://www.mca.org.mt/articles/interoperability-car-radio-devices.
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