August 24, 2017

Sreekanth B

Issues Related to Digital Radio Broadcasting In India

TRAI Invites Suggestions on Consultation paper on "Issues related to Digital Radio Broadcasting in India"

At present, terrestrial radio coverage in India is available in Frequency Modulation (FM) mode and Amplitude Modulation (AM) mode (Short Wave and Medium Wave). AIR along with private sector radio broadcasters are providing terrestrial radio broadcast services throughout the country transmitting programs in AM and FM frequency bands. Private sector radio broadcasters are licensed to transmit programs in FM frequency band (88-108 MHz) only and presently operate through 293 radio stations.

Presently radio signals are largely transmitted in analog mode in radio broadcasting sector in the country. Analog terrestrial radio broadcasting when compared with digital mode is inefficient and suffers with operational restrictions. Digital Radio technologies can overcome problems faced in analog transmission with exciting new capabilities and promises fast growth. Apart from audio quality, Digital Radio broadcasting provides a number of advantages over analog radio broadcasting. The biggest advantage is that in the digital radio it is possible to broadcast three to four programs channels on a single frequency and ensure excellent quality of all the channels while analog mode broadcast only one program at one frequency.

All India Radio (AIR) has already initiated digitization of its MW and SW radio network in three phases. However, there appears to be no initiative in FM radio space to digitize either by public or private FM radio broadcasters. In a competitive environment digital radio broadcasting can provide exciting new opportunities to existing private FM radio broadcasters as well as a host of other value-added-services to the listeners. However, presently policy guidelines for Phase-III regime lacks clarity regarding provisioning of digital radio service in FM band. An ecosystem, which can encourage existing private FM broadcasters to move towards digital radio broadcasting, is also not available.

Through this consultation paper, TRAI seeks stakeholders’ comments & counter comments on various issues relating to development of an eco-system for deployment of Digital radio broadcasting by private FM radio broadcasters by 04.09.2017 & 18.09.2017 respectively.

The consultation paper can be viewed HERE.

Last date of submission of suggestions is 18th September, 2017, midnight.

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