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TRAI tells govt to notify the policy for digital radio in time bound manner

02-February-2018
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TRAI  tells govt to notify the policy for digital radio in time bound manner

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Thursday released its recommendations on “Issues related to Digital Radio Broadcasting in India”

As on of the key recommendation, it asked the government to notify the policy framework for digital radio broadcasting in India in time bound manner with clear roadmap for rollout of digital radio broadcasting services.
It has also said that the WPC wing of DoT should carry out necessary amendments in NFAP-2011 for permitting Digital Radio Broadcasting in MW, SW, and VHF-II frequency bands. Moreover, private sector should be permitted to provide digital radio broadcasting services within the existing frequency band 88 – 108 MHz used for FM radio broadcasting.
"Frequency and geographical area coverage planning for digital radio broadcasting using the vacant 600 KHz spectrum in VHF-II (88 -108 MHz) and VHF – III (14-230 MHz) bands should be completed by BECIL, AIR, and WPC together in phased manner.  200 Khz bandwidth spectrum in VHF – II band should be auctioned for providing digital Radio broadcasting services. Auction should be carried out in phases – starting with cities of category ‘A+’ and ‘A’ and subsequently in cities of other categories, " read the release. 
It also suggests that immediately after the successful auction of spectrum for digital radio broadcasting, an offer should be made to the existing FM Radio broadcasters to get their existing frequency bandwidth of +- 100 KHz, already allocated through auction in Phase-III of FM Radio, liberalized and provide digital radio broadcasting services in simulcast mode with analog FM Radio services.

"For liberalizing of existing spectrum, already allocated to the FM radio broadcasters in Phase-III of FM Radio, they will have to pay an amount equal to the difference of auction determined price of equivalent spectrum for digital radio broadcasting in a city and amount paid for allocation of FM radio frequency. In case market determined price of 200 KHz for digital radio broadcasting is less than or equal to the price paid by FM radio broadcasters than FM radio broadcasters will not be require to pay any additional amount and he will be permitted to provide digital radio broadcasting services also for the remaining period of permission," it reads.
The broadcasters should not be allowed to make use of any available digital technology, recognised by ITU, within the allocated/liberalized spectrum for providing digital radio broadcasting services subject to adaptation, if any, recommended by MIB/TRAI from time to time. No date for digital switch over of radio broadcasting services should be declared at this stage.
 Existing analog FM Radio channel should be allowed to remain operational for the remaining period of their Phase-III permissions.
The continuance of operation of existing analog FM Radio channels that do not migrate to digital radio broadcasting, should be reviewed after the expiry of their existing Phase-III permissions.
The auction of remaining channels of Phase-III should be done by delinking them from technology. Broadcasters should be permitted to use any technology (analog or digital or both) for radio broadcasting on the frequency allocated to them through auction in future.
For initial three years after declaration of digital radio broadcasting policy, the Government should grant fiscal incentives in the form of lower tax rates to manufacturers of digital radio receivers.

Presently radio signals are largely transmitted in analog mode in the country.

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