The policy on digital radio broadcasting should also be supplemented by a comprehensive road map for the roll-out of these services in a time-bound manner, TRAI Chairman R S Sharma said.
“In order to bring all stakeholders, radio broadcasters, transmission equipment manufactures and digital receiver manufacturers on one platform and encourage them to work collectively for developing the ecosystem for digital radio broadcasting, the government should come out with a detailed policy framework for digital radio broadcasting in India,” he said.
Sharma was addressing a joint workshop on ‘Digital Radio Vision for India’ organised by Xperi Corporation and India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA).
Citing TRAI ’s recommendations of February 2018 in this regard, Sharma said the regulator is also willing to provide any other policy inputs if required.
“But, I feel if we want to have digital radio broadcasting which is important from every perspective…from a quality, coverage, utilisation of spectrum…we need to have a policy and clear road map to ensure all our policy objectives…Digital India vision, disaster management, quality of service and affordability of service all these things can be realised,” he said
Reserve price for auction for FM Radio channels
Later on the sidelines, Sharma said the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI ) would release, in a week, its recommendation on reserve price for auction of FM Radio channels for tier-II and III towns, on which the government had sought the regulator’s recommendations.
“We are ready with the recommendations and we will release them in a week’s time where we will provide (view on) all those left-out frequencies, slots in the existing tier 1/2 towns and there are other towns…tier-III largely and tier-II also, where we had not been able to auction earlier. For those towns also, we will give the recommendations relating to reserve prices,” he said.
Speaking at the event, Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi S Vempati said a test stream of digital HD radio on a pilot basis is already available.
“I see the need for digital radio because of the sheer genre that we are expected to service…Having a single analogue frequency where I try to force-fit every possible genre of content, is not going to scale and work for me going forward. So, if we were to address different audience segments, I need the ability to have a digital radio,” he said.
Vempati said direct-to-mobile broadcasting is the way forward and that Prasar Bharati recently entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with IIT-Kanpur to explore this further.
“Couple of weeks back, director of IIT-Kanpur made a presentation to Prasar Bharati board on the road map for how we can develop direct-to-mobile broadcasting where distinction between audio and video blurs…and it is one pipe and uses the broadcast spectrum, does not choke the telecom network and is available on every smartphone,” he said.
Stating that the audience is increasingly consuming media and information on smartphones, he said it is important that broadcast signal in some mandatory form reaches every smartphone.
“Perhaps, it could be future regulatory mandate that would come out. It would be important from disaster management and emergency information standpoint…That is the future direction which we could evolve in,” he said.―The Hindu Business Line