BES India showcases DRM expansion plans

At Delhi’s Broadcast Engineering Show (BES) there was a big contingent of companies showing DRM transmission and receiver technology.

Steve Ahern was there for radioinfo.

Two companies that produce receiver electronics for car assembly line installation said they have orders for 10 lakh (1 million) units, indicating an impending growth in the digital radio market in India.

Other manufacturers reported similar car aftermarket orders, as well as orders for standalone receivers such as Gospell radios.

Car module installations (pictured right) will be included in the cost of the car, so the price (between $3 to $10 depending on the type of unit according to the representatives at the show) will not be significant for new car buyers.

The price point for pocket and kitchen style radios, at R5000 ($10), seemed about right for the booming Indian middle class, but too high for the poorest sections of Indian society. The possibility of subsidised receivers for some sections of society is being discussed.

Transmitter manufacturer Nautel had digital and analog transmitters on display, and the DRM Consortium exhibition stand was demonstrating the latest receiver and transmission technology on offer.

DRM is working with All India Radio to bring digital radio services to high powered transmitters around the country that will serve regional areas with similar coverage patterns as those currently broadcast by AIR’s high powered AM and SW transmitters.

One interesting development from DRM was the idea of a digital community notice board placed (right) in a central location in a village, which can play the radio to embedded speakers; display news, advertisements and short messages to a screen; and broadcast emergency warnings when required. Another innovation was online monitoring of live content from selected transmitters, allowing technical and editorial staff to monitor DRM in real time.



During the trade show, Indian public broadcaster Prasar Bharati organised a DRM Stakeholders’ meeting. Over 100 participants took stock of the progress made in the DRM roll out and made suggestions to shape the plans for 2020.

Of All India Radio’s 35 DRM transmitters in the AM band, 4 are now working in pure DRM digital mode, and the remaining sites have extended the pure DRM hours of transmission.

Digital broadcasts now include more varied content including: the news channel ‘News on Air,’ popular and entertainment music, the recently introduced cricket live commentary and the PM’s program Maan Ki Baat.

Plans are underway for exclusive broadcasts of the next round of one day cricket matches, which will only be heard on the digital radio channels.

During the stakeholders meeting, manufacturers requested more unique and compelling content and a stronger link to the receiver, retailer and distribution  industries.

One of the highlights of the event was the number of receivers shown by: Gospell, Starwaves, Nedis, Avion, RF2digital  and others. Receiver manufacturers stressed that, with serious orders placed soon, the standalone receivers can reach significant high numbers at competitive low prices.

AIR plans to convert six more high power MW transmitters to DRM and increase pure DRM transmission times.

At the stakeholders meeting, AIR also mentioned the possibility of sharing airtime with private broadcasters and enabling the emergency warning feature in DRM in conjunction with the relevant Indian disaster national agency.

AIR also announced that is planning to develop a multi-platform publicity campaign for digital radio, to be launched soon.

Prasar Bharati CEO, S.S. Vempati, said stakeholder meetings need to happen “even more often in order to help realise the potential of DRM for the benefit of the Indian nation.”

At the meeting, DRM Chair Ruxandra Obreja (above, with Alex Zink and NXP) congratulated AIR on its progress so far and said that, “with communication, cooperation and confidence… and the support of committed stakeholders,” All India Radio can successfully reach the DRM launch date.

“DRM is already in India in AM and the extension to FM, thus using the full, open DRM standard would create the largest digital market in the world,” she said.

Nautel, one of the key Consortium members, hosted a DRM event giving an update on the latest developments and improvements. It was the ideal opportunity to announce the winner of the DRM Enterprise Award 2019, the Southern Indian company Inntot Technologies (pictured below with trophy), developer of Indian solutions for the automotive and standalone receivers.






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