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ABU readies Bangkok to lead in medium wave digital radio

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MUMBAI: Seems like wave of digital radio broadcasting will soon engulf Bangkok. Next month, Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) is all geared to promote introduction of digital radio broadcasting in the medium wave band in Bangkok.

The project is being established in collaboration with the Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) and its members including Harris Corp, and the National Broadcasting Services of Thailand (NBT).

The project will use an analogue medium wave radio transmitter of NBT, serving Bangkok city, converted for DRM system digital transmissions, says a company release.

Scheduled for inauguration on 10 May 2004 by a high dignitary in the Thai government, the radio will carry regular programmes of high quality for about four weeks. The inaugural ceremony of the digital service will be held in the Radio Thailand head office studio complex in Bangkok, informs the release.

Underlining the importance of the event ABU director technical department Wayne Heads said that the principal objectives of the project were to set up a showcase installation of a medium Wave radio transmitter operating digital services on its regular frequency and to expose this showcase installation to ABU broadcasters in the region. This will enable them to understand implementation issues so that they can use this experience in setting up their own medium wave digital radio trials, he offered.

Heads added that providing digital transmissions to the set manufacturers / dealers and consumers was another significant step, which is expected to kick-start digital radio set availability and listener-ship.

Senior engineers from several ABU radio members and affiliates in the region will participate in the project. The ABU has invited radio set manufacturers to take an active part in this event. The idea is to let them know about the need for getting their receivers into the market. Members of the ABU technical bureau, the ABU's governing body for technical activities, will also participate in the digital radio event, as the Bureau will meet for its mid-year meeting in Bangkok around that time, says the release.

An associated event will be a six day Digital Radio Transmission Workshop (10-15 May) that will be held in the NBT Training Institute. The workshop will be run by experts from Deutsche Welle and Merlin VT (both members of the ABU and DRM) who will address digital conversion issues and also assist workshop participants to carry out signal coverage measurements in Bangkok city.

NBT executive director, engineering promotions Yothin Trikumut offered that both the ABU and NBT see a high potential in transition of medium wave radio services into the digital domain in the region.

Apart from providing improved quality and other enhancements for listeners, digital radio in the medium wave will bring improvement to the congestion situation. Significantly, the digital system will enable around 40 per cent savings in electricity bills at transmitter sites. It has been estimated that the cost of a new medium wave transmitter can be recovered after 10-12 years of service purely from the electricity bill savings.

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