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Trai starts consultation process on digital radio broadcasting

LiveMint logoLiveMint 10-07-2017 Harveen Ahluwalia

New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Monday floated a consultation paper to address issues pertaining to digital radio broadcasting, in a bid to enable private FM broadcasters across the country to move towards it.

Currently, radio signals are largely transmitted in analogue mode and are available in frequency modulation (FM) and amplitude modulation (AM)—short wave and medium wave. While state-owned broadcaster All India Radio has initiated digitization of its radio network (medium wave and short wave) in three phases, there is no clarity in the current policy guidelines regarding “provisioning of digital radio service in FM band” for private broadcasters.

According to a statement issued by the regulator, the consultation paper aims to develop an ecosystem which can encourage existing private FM broadcasters to evaluate digital radio broadcasting. There are 293 private FM radio stations across the country. AIR operates 420 radio stations.

“Analogue terrestrial radio broadcasting when compared with digital mode is inefficient and suffers with operational restrictions. Digital radio technologies can overcome problems faced in analogue transmission with exciting new capabilities and promises fast growth,” said the regulator, in a statement.

Additionally, the regulator also highlighted that digital radio broadcasting will improve the audio quality for the listeners and broadcasters will be able to air three-four programmes/channels on a single frequency (analogue mode allows broadcast of only one programme per frequency).

An executive at one of the leading private FM broadcasters, who did not wish to be named, said, “Digital is definitely an upgrade over the current technology and will help the audio quality of radio broadcasts. However, it is still premature to outline the advantages of digital broadcasting. We will have to evaluate the paper and we believe that Trai is also doing the same,” the executive said.

The authority has sought comments from various stakeholders by 4 September and counter-comments by 18 September to access the viability and issues pertaining to digital radio broadcasting and develop a roadmap for private FM radio operators.

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