Digital radio cross-over plans to be discussed
THERE is an opportunity for black players to go into digital radio ownership as the regulator embarks on a mission to solicit feedback from the public on introducing digital radio broadcasting in South Africa.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa has published a discussion document that details plans to cross over to digital radio.
“South Africa is a member of regional, continental and international organisations and is bound by the Regional Radio Communication Conference 2006 agreement which resolved to switch from analogue to digital broadcasting services by 2015
This agreement prompted the broadcasting digital migration policy which sets out South Africa’s parameters in migrating the country’s television broadcasting format from an analogue to a digital platform,” it said.
A PWC report shows that traditional radio remains an important medium, reaching more than 88% of people in rural and urban centres aged 15 years and older a week in South Africa.
“There are more than 10 million households with radios and many more listeners in the country. This is a higher penetration than television, newspapers and the internet. Usage remains high despite competition from digital music and internet radio.”
Vicki Myburgh, entertainment & media (E&M) industries leader for PwC southern Africa, says: “Even though traditional, non-digital media will continue to dominate overall E&M spending in South Africa over the next five years, much of the growth will come from digital.”
PWC says that digital radio has the potential to improve the effectiveness of radio by increasing the number of stations that can be broadcast with the same amount of spectrum, thereby increasing the advertising potential.
Additionally, as a result of less interference, the sound quality is much improved with FM stations having the sound quality of CD recordings.
Digital radio also provides a data stream that can be transmitted along with music, allowing the station to provide information about the songs being played.
However, the group says its biggest drawback to converting to digital radio is that all existing receivers will become obsolete and will have to be replaced.
Icasa has granted several trials involving both digital audio broadcasting (DAB+) and digital radio mondiale (DRM) technology with an objective to determine if the technology could be used as an alternative, or a supplementary radio broadcast technology, which could be used in a frequency radio broadcast network.
The communications regulator says that it intends on conducting an inquiry into implementing a digital sound broadcasting service in South Africa.
“Digital radio is much easier to use and tune than an analogue radio.”
Stakeholders interested in the discussion are called to make representations within 43 days.