I think that the European system, and the German system in particular, has been brought about by the fact that for many years the government owned all the radio stations and there was a tax on all radios. I don't know if this is still the case. Perhaps dschlei can tell us.
This is not entirely correct! Many of the radio stations (and TV stations) were types of public radio stations, not governmental controlled ones, but governmental supported. They do and did not broadcast advertising, and their existence is ensure with a type of mandatory fee that every radio owner had/has to pay. However, since more than 20 years, Germany and Europe has many real private stations (funded by advertising money), but they too broadcast the traffic information system. They had to agree to do this service to get a broadcasting license.
The system is now pretty well perfected across entire Europe, and one can drive from the north of Germany to the south of Italy, and receive all pertinent traffic information along the way. If detours are recommended, the Nav units will take this into consideration, and cars without Nav will have them displayed in the RDS field in addition to the verbal message coming from the muted radio! The system is so clever, that it even mutes any CD or tape that is played at that time.
It is a really cool system! If we would have this system here, it would help me to prevent a lot of stop and go traffic every morning when I drive to work. It seems that the section of freeway that I have to take every day, tries to become the semi truck jack-knifing/tipping over center of the US!