Dig­i­tal ra­dio cross-over plans to be dis­cussed

The New Age (KwaZulu-Natal) - - Business - THELMA NGOMA thel­man@the­newage.co.za

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.

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