New Delhi - Mar 3, 2014 - The one-day seminar DRM: The Future of Indian Radio - Opportunities for Stakeholders held on Feb. 28, 2014, was the first of its kind involving technology specialists, broadcasters and representatives of government and industry. More than 120 participants focused on the opportunities offered by the current rollout of digital radio to India. Several speakers stressed that All India Radio (AIR) was equipped to launch DRM, which would make all shortwave and mediumwave channels available to everyone in FM-quality over an area and at a cost that no current or future FM plan could match. The reach would greatly exceed FM, which was today available to about 45 percent of the country (including 25 per cent coverage by private channels). On the other hand, medium wave can cover the entire country.
Several speakers also said AIR had examined, in great detail, all the options and then made a judicious proposal sanctioned by the Indian government. All India Radio (AIR) Deputy Director General (Engineering) S K Saxena stressed that 36 DRM transmitters were in various stages of implementation in the country under a plan approved by the Planning Commission. Officials of AIR said the commissioning of 100kW, 200kW and 300kW transmitters is likely to be over by end of December 2014. Eight DRM transmitters are already on air in simulcast, though AIR would like to move eventually to DRM only. AIR is in the process of replacing or converting 72 MW transmitters to digital across the country, which should increase coverage to 70 percent of the Indian population, representing some 800 million people. As it was stressed throughout the day by many Indian and foreign speakers, DRM technology provides the listeners with enhanced audio quality, service reliability, added data services, emergency warning alerts, targeted advertising and a more efficient transmission system that greatly lowers the power costs.
A clear aim of the seminar was to tackle head on the question of receivers, and the event did not disappoint, as it included a full, lively session with excellent contributions from representatives of chipset manufacturers (such as Analog Devices, NXP), and local entrepreneurs engaged already in designing or even manufacturing receivers. Additionally, referring to criticism that affordable DRM sets were not available, AIR Engineer-in-Chief R K Budhiraja said that four Indian manufacturers had expressed interest in manufacturing affordable DRM sets in response to a tender floated by AIR, provided there was content and demand.
The progress on DRM in India and other key countries will figure prominently during the General Assembly of the DRM Consortium, scheduled to take place on March 26-27, 2014, at the BBC headquarters in central London, the New Broadcasting House.