There’s been quite a buzz in radio circles with regards to Norway closing down FM stations by 2017. A lot of folks asked me if this was the beginning of the end of FM and the answer to that would be ‘yes’. The country plans to have only Digital Audio Broadcasting or DAB. Norway was the first country to launch this technology on a channel back in the 90s, so it’s no surprise that they know the advantages and want to seamlessly switch from an analogue FM signal to a digital one.
Technically speaking, DAB has a lot of strengths and with that, chinks in the armour as well. It’s perfect when it comes to sound—so a presenter botching up a link will be heard even more clearly on this technology platform. It hasn’t taken off in India yet, but back in 1997 All India Radio did have trial runs of this new technology from New Delhi. However, for a country such as ours, the Herculean task would be to make sure that any new digital baby that is born should also have receiver prices that are affordable for the consumer. Once those edges are smoothed, India could well be the largest consumer of DAB in the future.
For those who are wondering whether this technology will make wickets fall at a radio unit, the answer would be ‘no’. It’s just technology and everyone will be able to hold their jobs. It’s just that the rubbish beamed out will be in digital form. You will still have burnt-out presenters running around, pundits of radio hanging like Nilgiri langurs at every office corner and, not to forget, those very interesting conference room meetings.
A lot of countries have DAB—like Australia, Austria, France, Germany and Greece—but by the look of things in India, it will take a while for it to be the standard adopted by radio stations. Phase three of FM licenses are still to be decided, so I guess DAB is light years away. See you next week.
The writer’s views expressed here are entirely in his personal capacity.