Sunday, September 16, 2012

DRM - Not sure they've got the memo

Currently consulting to several African radio stations. The subject of DRM came up. Are these guys serious? Yes, they have been serious since 1996. That's the clue to the problem.

AM broadcast facilities are being closed all over the planet, Not just mothballed - but demolished as it becomes uneconomic to use 500 kWs to blast just an audio signal across a border when satellite television has a much bigger audience impact.

We live in a visual world. And for the 8 or so countries where shortwave remains the only way to reach rural areas (Somalia comes to mind), these places will never go to digital SW. Remember these international networks were designed when oil was 40 dollars a barrel. Now the cost per listener is bonkers.

The user interfaces of most DRM receivers are poor (on the level of physics experiment)- and there are huge challenges to build the antenna into mobiles. The technology works. But is there still a need? Not in my recent experience. The window for Digitale Radio Mondiale has closed as a stand-alone technology. How long will they struggle on?


PCJ Media said...

DRM is like a horse with 4 broken legs. It needs to have the plug pulled. While I know that DRM is an amazing technology I see there are a few problems. First the DRM Consortium is a big one. They are very good are putting out press releases saying we are testing this that and the other. There is no need to test DRM we know it works. Second big problem is any of the companies that make high quality receivers like SONY, Tecsun, Sangean and others didn't see any future. As the head of R&D at Sangean told me "Why should we mass produce a radio that will cost us millions, when there is no programming.". They were to late for everything. I think it's time they just pull the plug and let it die.

radioguy said...

Yup -- no receivers = no audience. Is that REALLY so hard to get? If you can't buy a radio for under $100 that receives DRM, WHO are they broadcasting to? And if the DRM consortium hasn't figured out the time to test is over and we need to target audiences by -- oh I don't know maybe not charging for software and actually having stations broadcast using the system ... well, yes, they do shoot horses, don't they?