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Inntot Technologies, GeekSynergy, Gospell Digital Technology and Communications Systems are all working on products



Avion DRM receiver

NEW DELHI — You will recall that All India Radio, the public service broadcaster in India, adopted the Digital Radio Mondiale standard for the digital terrestrial radio transmissions in the MW and SW bands. 35 MW transmitters of AIR, ranging in power from 20 kW to 1000 kW, continue to operate in using DRM in various fashions. Two more transmitters, 100 kW each, are under trial in Delhi and these are expected to be operational in a couple of months, according to DRM news .

DRM news has compiled a list of manufacturers of stand-alone DRM receivers from various manufacturers, that is of interest.


DRM in the dashboard

Inntot Technologies, a start-up enterprise in India, has developed a software-based DRM receiver, which is based on a generic processor, and meets all the specifications for the Minimum Receiver Requirements, supporting all DRM core functionality such as Journaline advanced text and Emergency Warning Functionality. The design has been field tested in number of cities in India. It is expected to be very cost effective.

GeekSynergy, another start-up, is working on the development of a “highly affordable yet full-featured” DRM receiver, which is likely to be showcased by summer 2018. The company is also working on incorporating DRM into smartphones using one of the most well-known chips installed in all the branded mobile phones.


Gospell receiver and dongle

The Chinese company Gospell Digital Technology has presented a very well-reviewed DRM Receiver, the GR 216, which is already in production. These units can receive DRM signals in the AM as well as the VHF bands for large-area and local services, respectively. Core DRM features such as Journaline advanced text and EWF — with automatic device-wake-up from deep-standby are supported. Gospell is developing a DRM receiver dongle, GR-227, which can be plugged in the existing audio systems in the automobiles on USB ports or Aux input to receive DRM signals. The receiver model will allow legacy cars already on the road and with analog AM and FM reception to be upgraded to DRM digital reception through this simple add-on device. The unit is likely to go into production shortly.

Communications Systems is the first radio manufacturer in India to domestically develop and produce a DRM receiver (AV-1401), an “ambitious full-featured” digital radio. It supports all the DRM-specific features including Journaline advanced text and Emergency Warning Functionality. As part of the company’s continued commitment to DRM in India, the model was recently updated and easily meets DRM’s minimum receiver requirements as recommended by the DRM Consortium. 

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The Creta is the seventh Hyundai model to be equipped with digital radio


NEW DELHI — DRM news is reporting that Hyundai has added another digital radio to its line of cars. The Hyundai Creta, “one of the most popular and best-selling SUVs in India” now comes with a DRM receiver as standard equipment. The Creta represents the seventh Hyundai model with DRM receivers available.

“More than 100,000 cars are on the road in India today and are equipped with DRM receivers (Hyundai, Maruti Suzuki, Mahinda) — Hyundai for instance has six models with DRM receivers on the Indian roads with new models to come, according to trai.in.gov . The first after-market car radio and add-on dongle with DRM support was publicly presented at IBC 2017 in Amsterdam both for the AM bands and ready for the FM/VHF bands. 

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All Swiss tunnels will include DAB+; Italy’s RAI increases digital program offerings

BERN, Switzerland —Switzerland’s Federal Roads Office has announced that that radio systems in the motorway tunnels for the DAB+ digital radio reception will be expanded throughout Switzerland. In the area of ​​northeastern Switzerland, work has been completed in all 27 tunnels.

Eventually all the tunnels of Swiss national roads will be upgraded to receive the new DAB+ digital radio standard, for safety and comfort reasons, so that they will duplicate analog FM radio reception, matching expectations of drivers there.

DAB + reception on the highways in the cantons of Zurich, Schaffhausen, Thurgau, St. Gallen and Glarus as well as in the canton of Schwyz along Lake Zurich, is now possible without gaps, according to lokalinfo.ch .

ITALY

In Rome, RAI Radio has announced the startup of two new radio programs in June: Rai Radio1 Sport and Rai Radio2 Indie.

“With these two new channels our offer of radio increases and brings the total number to 12, which should reach 13 shortly with a new specialized spin-off channel of Radio 3. A rich offer, unthinkable only a few years ago, which positions RAI Radio among the main players in the production of audio content, whether for entertainment, information or culture. And that confirms the desire to turn the promises announced into reality, a demanding job that I’m proud of because it looks at the future of Radio RAI,” Roberto Sergio said in this article in primaonline.it .

“The entire production chain is now fully digitalized, from studies to royalties to transmission. In this sense, RAI Radio has recently given a strong impetus to the spread of the DAB+…” said Sergio. “RAI’s investments in DAB+ and digital have been anticipated for a value of around 5 million euros. Today, we can therefore already offer good coverage on the central North motorway axis. The commitment is however constant and will lead us to constantly increase the quality and penetration of the digital signal.”

The RAI Radio platform is available on all digital service types and includes RAI Radio1, RAI Radi2, RAI Radio 3, Isoradio, Gr Parlamento along with five specialized programs: RAI Radio Classica, RAI Radio Kids, RAI Radio Live, RAI Radio Techete’, RAI Radio Tutta Italiana and RAI Radio 3 by the end of 2018.

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Let’s take a look at the progress of DAB across Europe. The primary reference for this article is from the EBU , written by Ben Poor. As a broadcasting union, the organization does want to see broadcasting continue and even thrive, but that’s no reason to unduly charge them with news “spin.”

The year 2017 saw an increase in the number of available services: Figures from the EBU Media Intelligence Service’s Market Insights on Digital Radio 2018 show that the number of digital stations increased by almost 25 percent. Some 468 stations are only available via digital transmission. Most of these are commercial stations “indicating an increasing recognition by private broadcasters of digital radio as a cost-effective place to innovate and reach new audiences.”

“A recent EBU analysis of the distribution costs for covering national populations by FM, DAB+ and Broadband showed that digital broadcast using DAB+ was significantly more cost-effective than the alternatives – even when calculated conservatively,” the article goes on to say. Thus, as digital listening grows, so does the case for planning for DSOs in the various countries.

For Norway: “The predicted drop of daily reach as a result of the disruption turned out to be less than expected.” Bauer Media predicts by the end of 2018 total radio listening and commercial radio revenues in Norway will have increased, and public radio listening will have bounced back. “DSO is disruptive and terrifying but it’s going to have been successful for everyone,” according to Bauer.

Let’s interject another source here. As reported by radionytt.no , in a recent media survey, made by Respons, for Nordic Media Days, 57% of respondents are “negative” that FM was switched off and replaced with DAB. 27% of respondents expressed their positive attitude towards digitization, while 16% of respondents did not know. The survey also shows that many still have not acquired a DAB radio: about 28% of respondents respond that they do not have DAB; 33% have acquired such a radio; 37% have digital radios at home.

Switzerland –in recent years, Switzerland has significantly built out its digital coverage, ahead of a cut-off date for DSO by 2024. “However, thanks to a close collaboration between government, industry and broadcasters, it is expected that DAB+ will be the main distribution platform from 2020,” according to EBU. “…success factors have included ensuring new cars are line-fitted with DAB+ receivers, [and a] a public information campaign and a partnership between public and private broadcasters.” Another reason given is regional layer built out using ‘low-cost’ solutions based on the freely available DAB+ broadcasting tools from OpenDigitalRadio . This has enabled local services to support the move to digital, bringing audiences with them.

Denmark–Denmark has one of the lowest numbers of digital-only stations within countries usually considered as digital radio ‘leaders’, but a plan for a DSO has recently been floated.

“The plan proposes a shutdown of FM two years after digital listening exceeds 50 percent, or in 2021 at the latest. Current figures (2018) put this at 37 percent, up from 31 percent in 2015.” This has followed a full transition from DAB to DAB+ during 2017, and a reorganization of frequencies for existing transmitters. I should also note that this is just a plan—it isn’t written into the law .

United Kingdom—“Digital listening in the UK is huge, with big seasonal spikes in the sales of home receivers and nearly 90 percent of new cars being line-fitted with a digital receiver,” according to EBU. The number of digital-only stations is almost twice the number of its nearest rival, Switzerland, with around 110 stations.

“A long-awaited figure of 50 percent digital share of listening across all digital platforms is expected during 2018.” This should then meet government criteria defined in its July 2010 Digital Radio Action Plan, triggering a process to “consider a decision on whether to set a date for [DSO]”.

The BBC still accounts for around half of all digital listening time and is a key player in any decision on DSO. A widely misreported speech by the BBC’s Director of Radio and Music, Bob Shennan , at the recent Radiodays in Vienna struck an optimistic but cautious tone. Shennan said a DSO plan “should be “audience-led” and that currently “audiences are best served by a mixed economy” of digital broadcast, broadband and FM in a ‘hybrid’ model.”

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The total number of GatesAir transmitters deployed in that country stands at 1218

MASON, Ohio — GatesAir is getting ready to send its final shipments of transmitters to Norway, bringing the total of its transmitters deployed in that country to 1218 in support of Norway’s transition to DAB.

Norway’s national FM Radio signals vacated the airwaves in mid-December, concluding an 11-month sunset. Many local FM stations remain on the air.

GatesAir says it has been involved in Norway’s DAB digital radio activity since the nation’s first tests in 1994. Upon the Norwegian government’s 2011 approval to switch off FM radio, it says it helped the country to accelerate the site planning and systems design process, and worked closely with partners to set a site-by-site delivery schedule.

According to the company, a pair of redundant GatesAir Maxiva VAX air-cooled transmitters ranging from 50 W to 5 kW support over-the-air content delivery from most sites. The final transmitters being shipped include low-power models.

“Our work in Norway has spanned over two decades to ensure that the exacting specifications of the network and delivery timelines were met in accordance with the Norwegian government’s mandate,” said Darren Frearson, vice president of Sales, EMEA-APAC, GatesAir.

“GatesAir’s modular transmitters were easily configured and rapidly deployed across the network. The compact footprint and small weight contributed to the rapid deployment, which reached as many as 14 sites per week.” 

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Here are some updates from Switzerland, Ukraine and Germany

BERN, Switzerland — Swiss communications regulator Bakom recently said that in 2017 nearly 600,000 DAB+ radios were purchased nationwide. Bakom also reports that about 85% of all new vehicles sold are equipped with a DAB+ radio as standard equipment, and that a total of 3.5 million devices are in circulation in the country, according to telecompaper.com .

In Kiev, the remaining four slots of a new DAB multiplex have been offered once again by Ukraine’s National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting. Applications for participation in the competition for the remaining slots are being accepted from May 17 –June 15 at the address Prorizna, 2, Kiev, tel. 234-97-13. The results from the National Council will be announced by May 14, according to detector.media .

In Germany, the regional public broadcaster SWR (Südwestrundfunk ) has commissioned new DAB transmitters at Villingen Schwenningen using channel 8D. This will improve DAB coverage for the programs SWR1, SWR2, SWR3, SWR4, SWR Aktuell and DASDING in the Black Forest-Baar-Heuberg area and adjacent areas, reports infosat.de .

SWR is planning further expansion of the DAB + network this year in Bad Urach, Baiersbronn, Brandenkopf, Schramberg, Sigmaringen, Waldburg and Weingarten, and other transmitter locations are being planned. 

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RadioHack Drives Innovation

The 2018 edition of RadioHack focused on broadcasting tools for small and community stations, new hybrid services and smart speakers



Ofcom Senior Broadcast Specialist Rashid Mustapha explains his “hack” based on IPTV boxes to fellow participants.

GENEVA — The European Broadcasting Union’s RadioHack event, which takes place each year during the EBU Digital Radio Week, brings together hardware and software developers from various organizations, including non-EBU members, to share projects and ideas.

The event aims to push technology a step further by modifying it. Radio is traditionally “live,” but it is safe to say that during each RadioHack, radio becomes “lively!” It is a place where coders, solderers and thinkers collaborate and innovate together, working on new ideas and technologies and exploring how existing ones can be linked together.

ASKING BROADCASTERS

Probably one of the least formal events organized by the EBU, RadioHack has no dresscode, and once inside the “laboratory,” participants find evaluation boards, software-defined radio platforms, test-bed hardware, as well as “donor” off-the-shelf devices to be “hacked.”

The 2018 edition of RadioHack focused on broadcasting tools for small and community stations, new hybrid services and smart speakers.

Matthias Brändli, lead developer for Open Digital Radio, fine-tuned a set of tools capable of turning any computer into a microrange digital audio broadcasting transmitter, and ran a live demo. Open Digital Radio is a nonprofit organization with the goal of enabling small and community radio stations to step from analog transmission to digital radio.

“This set of tools have been tested in several locations,” Brändli explained, “and we’ve also been able to prove, using this set of technology tools, that digital audio broadcasting can be used for small coverages and for projects on a small scale.”

On another topic, the entertainment system of the current Audi A8 can seamlessly switch across FM, DAB and online streaming emissions of the same station. On hand was Florian Hoffmann, a radio development engineer at Audi who worked at their development platform for in-car hybrid radio receivers.

Radio slideshows now appear in low-resolution on a receiver’s display, but on Audi’s prototype attendees could preview the same slideshows in high resolution coming from the RadioVIS service of RadioDNS. “We ask broadcasters to support and implement the RadioDNS standard so we can implement these pre-development features on the next generation entertainment systems released for production,” Hoffmann said.

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SMART SPEAKERS

Also during the event, Rashid Mustapha, senior broadcast specialist at the United Kingdom’s broadcasting regulatory authority Ofcom, explained how the organization is facilitating the development of innovative ideas and tools for smaller stations.

“We would like to develop new ideas and software tools for small radio stations, specifically community radio and other special interest broadcasters. Moving from one of the nowadays popular IPTV boxes which are very low-cost mass-produced things for watching YouTube or Netflix on turn any TV into a smart TV,” he said. At Ofcom we replaced the standard Android operating system IPTV boxes usually run on with a Linux OS.”

The new operating system enables researchers to control the hardware and build their own software tools. During RadioHack the modified IPTV box ran a DAB source encoder, a DAB multiplexer and a DAB modulator, which fed a software defined radio transmitter via a USB cable. Users were able to upload and store audio content and music files to the same modified IPTV box, which also featured an embedded web-based playout system.

“The modified box can also pull web streams and podcasts from the internet, so that it actually contains a complete radio station,” Mustapha added.

Software defined radio peripherals and open standard digital radio encoders were part of the hack by Belgium’s Dutch-speaking public broadcaster VRT, which also focused on smart speakers. The broadcaster developed a skill for Amazon Alexa that allows listeners to talk to their radio station of choice.

As an example, Floris Daelemans, VRT innovation researcher, prompted an Amazon Echo Dot device running Alexa: “Alexa, can you tell Radiohack I’m feeling fine and dandy?”

The smart speaker acknowledged the request and whispered “Message has been sent.” In response to this, the system sent an email to the radio station and immediately the dummy RadioHack station received an email reporting that that listener is feeling fine.

“There are multiple emotions that can be conveyed, easily and immediately shared with radio stations. With this, listeners can give an immediate feedback to the radio station,” Daelemans concluded.

NEXT GENERATION AUDIO

Orpheus is a project funded by the European Union, focusing on the research and development of next generation audio. Werner Bleisteiner, creative technologist at Bayerischer Rundfunk explained how speech intelligibility, 3D audio, as well as advanced features like user-definable lengths of sound bites are among the features enabled by the Orpheus project.

“We’re going to make audio more interactive and responsive, delivering audio objects to the end user device where they get assembled in the way that suits listening conditions, the preferences, and the choice of the user,” said Bleisteiner.

At RadioHack, Bleisteiner demonstrated an audio piece built with five levels of “importance”; each one of them is presented with a different color on the receiver’s display.

“In this example, the most important level is highlighted in red,” he said. “In case the listener wishes to listen to more levels, the user experience can become longer and more in-depth regarding information.” Through a dedicated app, developed by the Orpheus partner Elephantcandy, listeners can “readjust the length of the program to their needs.”

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Digital Radio News From Europe

France’s CSA has approved seven sites in the Hauts-de-France (the north of France) for DAB+; Germany will remain a VHF country for the foreseeable future; and in Norway, over-the-air radio listenership appears to have stabilized

PARIS — France’s CSA has approved seven sites in the Hauts-de-France (the north of France) for DAB+, to be launched in the region on June 19. This deployment will include 39 radio stations in the Lille area and between nine and 13 radio stations in the other areas of the region (Douai-Lens-Béthune- Arras, Valenciennes, Dunkirk and Calais-Boulogne-sur-Mer).

The new deployment plan provides for a first phase with a tight schedule (2018/2020), refocused on the densest areas of the territory (major cities, living areas of more than 175,000 inhabitants, major highways and roads), according to offremedia.com . The less populated areas will be covered after 2020.

“…DAB + is struggling to develop in France mainly because of the lack of enthusiasm of large private groups that favor investment in broadcasting via the internet,” according to the same article.

From Germany: “One thing is certain: at some point, the analog radio reception will be history, as in the case of [digital] television since 2003. The public radio stations have been pushing for years to make DAB + the successor to FM,” according to this article in tagesspeigel.de . Private broadcasters are mixed on the digital radio over-the-air concept: many see the digital future more on the Internet, using 5G.

“Nonetheless, Germany will remain a VHF country for the foreseeable future. The federal government has not committed to a shutdown date for the analog technology,” the same article goes on to say.

In Norway, over-the-air radio listenership appears to have stabilized. Key findings for March of 2018, reported by Kantar Media, are as follows:

  • Daily listenership in January was at 56.9%; in February 57.0%; in March 57.4%
  • Listening time: In January 71 minutes; in February 72 minutes; in March 74 minutes
  • While listening time has increased by three minutes in 2018, it is still eight minutes less listening than January 2017

“Listening on national channels seems to have stabilized after a gradual decline through the turn-off year 2017,” according the medietilsynet.no .

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The Worldwide Radioplayer API builds on the Radioplayer Car upgrade system

CALABASAS, Calif. — Xperi Corporation recently announced a partnership between its wholly owned subsidiary DTS and Radioplayer Worldwide , one of the world’s leading streaming radio content aggregation platforms, to develop and integrate DTS Connected Radio technology into future vehicles using the Worldwide Radioplayer API.

Utilizing a vehicle’s native IP connectivity, DTS Connected Radio delivers an innovative analog and digital (DAB and HD Radio) AM/FM experience by pairing broadcast programming with IP-delivered content. DTS Connected Radio aggregates metadata, such as artist and song information, on-air radio program information, station contact information and more, directly from broadcasters around the world to deliver an enhanced visual experience in the vehicle.

The Worldwide Radioplayer API builds on the Radioplayer Car upgrade system. The system automatically follows the listener’s favorite stations across DAB (in Europe of course), FM, and streaming, as reception varies. As well as enabling ‘hybrid’ switching between broadcast and streaming as reception varies, the new data feed can power features such as personalized radio recommendations, search results, and catch-up content.

[Read: Xperi Will Showcase DTS Connected Radio at CES]

“The number of countries adopting the Radioplayer technology is set to rise steeply in coming years, as more and more broadcasters decide to collaborate and pool resources. Automotive integrations are at the top of the list of priorities for Radioplayer, given radio’s huge importance to drivers, but they also develop world-leading radio apps, and innovative voice-control interfaces,” according to Xperi.

Xperi Corp. also announced a partnership between DTS and RCS, the world’s largest broadcast software company, to develop and integrate DTS Connected Radio technology into their family of radio automation and production platforms. The DTS Connected Radioplatform will enable broadcasters to deliver new services into connected cars of the future.

Utilizing a vehicle’s native IP connectivity, DTS Connected Radio delivers an analog and digital (DAB and HD Radio) AM/FM experience by pairing broadcast programming with IP-delivered content. DTS Connected Radio aggregates metadata, such as artist and song information, on-air radio program information, station contact information and more, directly from broadcasters to deliver an enhanced visual experience in the vehicle. 

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Digital Radio News From the EU

Danish government proposes to sundown FM radio broadcasts by 2021

COPENHAGEN — The Danish government recently announced new media policies, and among them is a proposal that the FM band be shut down by 2021, reports radionytt.se .

The demise of the FM band will take place two years after 50% of radio listening takes place via digital platforms, or by 2021 at the latest. Use of digital radio sources is at 38% now.

In Switzerland, nearly 600,000 DAB-capable radios were sold in 2017. The country plans to start phasing out FM broadcasts from 2020 onwards. Earlier this year it was shown that more than 60% of the radio listening is done via digital sources —via streaming or over-the-air radio. The use of DAB+ showed an increase of 11 percent and now has a share of 34%; the use of the (analog) FM radio has decreased from 51% at the end of 2015 to 41% in early 2017, according to mediamagazine.nl.

In the UK, Connect FM has disappeared from its local DAB multiplex because of a “very substantial price increase” from Arqiva, according to RadioToday .

The station was a launch partner when the Northampton multiplex launched in 2013 and later joined DAB in Peterborough, and Herts, Beds and Bucks. More recently its sister station Radio Essex joined the Southend/Chelmsford mux.

“We are bitterly disappointed for our listeners to have to remove our Connect FM station from DAB in Northampton and Peterborough and at such short notice,” said Mark Jeeves, operations director of Connect FM. “We feel that Connect FM contributed significantly to the launch and promotion of DAB in this area and have been rewarded by Arqiva for our efforts with a huge uplift in price, which, if agreed to, would have made Connect FM unsustainable as a business.

“I don’t think this action by Arqiva sends a good message for smaller radio stations and clearly demonstrates the pricing power of multiplex owners over radio license operators and their willingness to put profit over service, despite there being plenty of capacity on the Northamptonshire and Peterborough multiplexes,” Jeeves said in the same article.

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