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Radio experts get buzz from DRM seminar in India

More than 120 industry participants attended a seminar in New Delhi showcasing the opportunities offered by the rollout of digital radio in India. 

The one-day national seminar “DRM: The Future of Indian Radio – Business Opportunities for Stakeholders” on 28 February 2014 was organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in co-operation with the Digital Radio Mondiale Consortium and was the first of its kind involving technology specialists, broadcasters and representatives of government and industry. 

Several speakers said that All India Radio (AIR) was equipped to launch DRM, which would make all short wave and medium wave 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 be unlike FM, which was today available to around 45 per cent of the country, whereas medium wave covered the entire country.

AIR Deputy Director General (Engineering) Mr S. K. Saxena said that 36 DRM transmitters were in various stages of implementation in the country under a plan approved by the Planning Commission. AIR officials said the commissioning of 100 kW, 200 kW and 300 kW transmitters was likely to be completed by end of December 2014. Eight DRM transmitters are already on air in simulcast, though AIR would like to move eventually to a digital signal only.

AIR is in the process of replacing or converting 72 MW transmitters to digital across the country, which should increase coverage to 70 per cent of the Indian population, some 800 million people.

Mr Yogendra Pal, Honorary Chairman of the DRM Indian Platform, said that FM, while popular in India, was “spectrum hungry” and not an answer in places like Delhi “where AIR alone would need up to 25 niche channels, an impossibility”.

In response to criticism that affordable DRM sets were not available, AIR engineering chief Mr R. K. Budhiraja said that four Indian manufacturers had expressed interest in making affordable DRM sets in response to a tender floated by AIR, provided there was content and demand.

DRM Chairman Ms Ruxandra Obreja said later: ” All in all, this was the most successful meeting held by the DRM with the industry in India to-date. The buzz was all positive and palpable.”

She said the progress on DRM in India and other key countries would figure prominently during the DRM General Assembly scheduled on March 26 2014.