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Digital Radio Update - June 3, 2009
France Grants T-DMB Digital Radio Applications
There were winners and losers last week as French federal media regulator CSA approved160 applications for digital radio channel slots in the nation's new T-DMB-based digital radio system. According to a Michael Hedges article in followthemedia.com, the CSA selection process will create four new national radio channels, two featuring sports, one news channel and a channel targeting French tweens. Multiplexes are currently planned for Paris, Marseille and Nice.
While many broadcasters garnering channels are commercial operators with existing FM analog outlets, a number of specialized local channels were added including those broadcasting in Chinese and Berber languages. No English services were approved.
Not everyone is pleased. Radio groups NextRadioTV and NRJ have complained that their applications for national channel positions were not given a fair hearing and at least one of the two groups is said to be considering litigation.
Selection of T-DMB by France as a key platform for digital radio is itself somewhat controversial. Critics have charged that the move isolates France at a time when other EU member states are adopting DAB and DAB+ as their primary radio platforms in the VHF bands and above. Defenders of the French initiative say it's a key strategy in forcing advanced handset manufacturers to include both TV and radio functionality in new products.
Brazil Includes DRM in Digital Radio Evaluation
Brazilian telecom officials say they will include DRM as a platform under consideration during a 180-day public consultation period in establishing national digital radio standards.
The announcement came as a seven-member panel representing DRM made its pitch at the Brazilian Association of Radio and Television (ABERT) Congress in Brasilia last week.
The move means DRM will join Ibiquity's HD Radio and Eureka 147 DAB/DAB+ as candidates in providing standards for the country's future digital radio infrastructure.
Even though DRM's non-proprietary technology has found recent favor in both Russia and India, the selection process is unlikely to be a slam-dunk in South America, where HD Radio has enjoyed a relatively long history, particularly in Brazil, where more than 20 stations have participated in demonstrations and ongoing evaluations of IBOC digital technology.
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