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From FM to DRM: CII meet urges manufacturers to meet digital radio needs
Feb 28, 2014

Radio in India is all set for the next wave. The country is poised to experience better sound quality and coverage area in radio by next year, as revealed by participants at the CII National Seminar on DRM: Future of Indian Radio - Business Opportunities for Stakeholders here today. The move towards digital radio is expected to take off in 2015.

The seminar comes at the heels of the Pitroda Expert Committee's report in January, which endorsed All India Radio's decision to convert analogue medium wave to DRM. Apart from quality and range, DRM is an open global standard that can cover all the bands.

Ms Ruxandra Obreja, Chairperson, DRM Consortium, said it was time that Indian-developed and manufactured receivers available to listeners. India, she said, was uniquely poised as it had both the market as well as the technical knowhow to manufacture digital radio receivers.

AIR plans to continue analogue and digital simulcast till 2016, and thereafter shift to digital broadcast.

Confirming this, Mr R K Budhiraja, Engineer-in-Chief, All India Radio, informed that the installation of DRM transmitters was proceeding on schedule and called upon the industry to make receivers available by the first quarter of 2015. Former Prasar Bharati Engineer-in-Chief R R Prasad looked back on the DRM test run in 2007 and how it had surpassed everybody's expectations. But, he asserted that there should be an environment for the public to have reasons to buy digital receivers.

Two key impediments identified by participants was the non-availability of affordable receivers and the lack of suitable content, including data. Mr Rajiv Kumar Shukla, Deputy Director General, Directorate General of All India Radio, said the public broadcasting ethos demanded that all content should be suitable for all citizens. In addition, the diversity of languages and dialects led to further demands and requests.

Mr Yogendra Pal, Honorary. Chairman, India Chapter of DRM Consortium, reminded the participants that radio is a mass media because it is free and it is mobile. Going digital was the way forward, and this provided manufacturers with a huge market opportunity.

Earlier, in his opening address Mr Vinod Sharma, Chairman, CII National Committee on ICTE Manufacturing and Managing Director, Deki Electronics Ltd, said that India was at a fraction of world electronic consumption. However, the sector is looking at 400 billion dollars of consumption by the year 2020. This is a not a small amount, and urged participants to realise the potential not only in terms of manufacturing but also in terms of providing jobs to many.

The CII seminar was attended, by a cross-section of stakeholders, listeners, manufacturers, broadcasters and regulators, and this ensured and fruitful and interactive deliberations.

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