TRAI urges government to come out with detailed policy framework for digital radio broadcasting

NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has urged the government to come out with a detailed policy framework for digital radio broadcasting. The regulator said it has already given its recommendations and is willing to offer further policy inputs on the issue if needed.

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 while addressing a joint workshop on ‘Digital Radio Vision for India’ organised by Xperi Corporation and India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA).

Sharma also said that the TRAI will 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 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 also informed 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 a 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.

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