DRM Presents FM Band Digital Radio Strategies at ASBU / EBU Week of Technology

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This technology event was jointly organised by the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU) and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) in Tunis on 18 and 19 October 2022. The DRM Consortium was invited to participate and present the strategies for taking up and implementing FM band DRM digital radio services.

The conference, attended by more than 40 senior technical executives of the ASBU members and the EBU, received some interesting presentations. Areas addressed at the conference included radio and TV production, cyber-security for the media, UHDTV, exchange networks, and radio and TV broadcast and distribution. The DRM Consortium presented on the strategies that may be adopted by the Arab broadcasters for setting up DRM digital radio services in the FM band.

The DRM presentation underlined the strategic value of using the FM band for setting up cost-effective DRM digital radio services and adding capacities for more DRM digital radio services in the band without needing any new spectrum. DRM FM simply makes use of the white spaces between the existing analogue FM carriers. The conference was told about the vital aspects of low power requirement and use of existing FM hardware and site facilities, both of which result in lower capital investments and annual operating costs. While DRM FM provides capacities for up to three stereo-audio programmes and an additional multimedia service, it does not employ a multiplex operation, thus obviating the need for complicated mux arrangements and payments. DRM FM provides a variety of Journaline based multimedia services, which include city-life and highway information and entertainment services, radio schooling, emergency warning, public signage feeds and special services such as drive-in cinema audio distribution. The DRM FM system is most suited for Community Radio services, as a compact low power one-box solution.

Some of the major cities in the region seem to be facing a capacity crunch in the FM band. The presentation made it quite clear on how the additional FM band service requirements can be met by using DRM digital radio.

The DRM presentation was well received with several participants acknowledging the DRM FM features. On conclusion of the presentation, several specific questions were asked on some of the aspects that had been described. Clearly, some interest has got created making use of the FM band for DRM digital radio and it would be a good idea to focus only on that aspect.

On another note, some of the ASBU broadcasters have launched digital radio services in their countries. Many of these broadcasters have expressed some dissatisfaction due to poor uptake of these services and other consumer related issues.

As an additional outcome, DRM Consortium will start building up more opportunities for closer cooperation with ASBU and its broadcaster members.  The opportunities offered by DRM FM digital radio implementation are an exciting proposition and the Consortium will positively contribute to this process.

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