A new form of digital broadcasting, David Reid discovered, has the potential to re-draw the global radio map.
17 October 2008 17:59 UK


Africa and Asia already have AM equipment that converts to DRM
Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) is a world-wide technical standard that works with frequency bands currently supporting AM radio.
The standard is designed to broadcast sharper digital audio and limit breaks in transmission.
Since the 1930s broadcasters such as the BBC World Service have aired programmes globally via scratchy shortwave.
Intended as a digital replacement for shortwave, DRM is expected to achieve similar distances, but without the interference.
"International audiences will benefit greatly… not only in Europe, but also large swathes of Africa, and big countries in Asia," said Ruxandra Obreja, chair of the DRM Consortium and controller of business development for the BBC World Service.

Digital decisions

While digital radio is catching on, many see its true test in delivering high-quality audio to cars.
Most digital radio programmes are broadcast on the FM band which can mean that audio fades as a car moves from one transmitter's catchment area to the next.

Ruxandra Obreja said DRM will break down "obstacles"
By contrast, DRM uses the AM band, in particular shortwave, and can go much further than FM without holes in its transmission.
DRM does not suffer blackouts, because like shortwave, its reach comes from bouncing around the globe.
"AM radio has the ability to bounce off the ionosphere which is why it can travel hundreds and thousands of miles. That's one of the unique properties of the earth and its atmosphere," explained Tim Ayris from VT Communications - a company formed from the privatisation of the BBC's World Service transmission network.
VT Communications has antennas dotted round the world that form the broadcast network that keeps the BBC and Deutsche Welle on air.
The long reach of DRM might mean that it enable broadcasts to travel across borders where local media and internet is censored.
Ruxandra Obreja called it "digital radio without frontiers" for its ability to break down "obstacles in the way of free information".

Cost counting

In common with other European countries, Britain's radio industry may be reluctant to adopt yet another digital standard.

Digital radio in cars can fade as it moves between FM transmitters
Britain has already converted to Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) system which required an expensive network of transmitters.
Trevor Dann, director of The Radio Academy, pointed out there had to be a financial incentive in adopting DRM.
"Someone comes along and says, 'You need to be on this DAB thing you know', and suddenly you've got to spend more money.
"Then someone comes along and says 'actually you should be on Freesat…and you should have a broadband link'… but there is money involved every time," he said.
DRM could be an attractive option for vast continents like Africa and Asia which are already dotted with AM equipment that converts easily to DRM.
But for digital early-adopter Europe, having to take on yet another digital standard could prove less of an advantage.

(Source: BBC NEWS )

iar aici comentariile presei straine(Radio Netherlands Worldwide):

BBC technology programme “discovers” DRM
October 19th, 2008

The website of Click, which describes itself as the BBC’s flagship technology programme, says “A new form of digital broadcasting, David Reid discovered, has the potential to re-draw the global radio map.” In fact, the article is about Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM), and is largely based on interviews with Ruxandra Obreja, chair of the DRM Consortium and controller of business development for the BBC World Service, and Tim Ayris of VT Communications.

But the article seems to confuse the domestic and international uses of DRM. It says “The standard is designed to broadcast sharper digital audio and limit breaks in transmission,” which seems to refer to the greater range of DRM on mediumwave compared to FM. It then goes on to say that “DRM does not suffer blackouts, because like shortwave, its reach comes from bouncing around the globe.” It continues that “the long reach of DRM might [sic] mean that it enables broadcasts to travel across borders where local media and Internet is censored.” And a small map is annotated with the comment that “Africa and Asia already have AM equipment that converts to DRM.” This presumably refers to some of the newest shortwave transmitters broadcasting to those regions.

Nowhere in the article is there any information about how to actually listen to DRM transmissions. The word “receiver” is not mentioned. If the DRM Consortium wants to create the impression of an organisation that knows what it is doing, articles like this are not helpful. At least the BBC should have given the assignment to someone who actually understands what DRM is, rather than taking a few quotes at random and mixing them up.