BBC is “keen to exploit DRM” but manufacturers must develop a multi-standard receiver chip

(Source: Radio World via Mike Hansgen)

LONDON — The BBC World Service, available on radio, TV and online, is part of one of the largest news organization in the world, the BBC.

The weekly reach of the World Service on all platforms accounted for 269 million (up from 246 million in 2015–16).

[…]Large numbers of the BBC’s audience still need international radio broadcasts.

[…]Right from its late ’90s inception, the development of Digital Radio Mondiale was fully supported and enhanced by the BBC World Service. DRM was seen as an efficient replacement for the analog AM transmissions. When we consider scarcity of spectrum for new uses and appreciate the characteristics of the radio broadcast bands, we recognize the tremendous properties these continue to offer broadcasters to deliver programs over sometimes very large distances and areas or in difficult terrain.

[…]The BBC is keen to exploit DRM in order to deliver, to key markets, BBC content free of gatekeepers in a form that can be accessed easily.

For that to be possible, the multi-standard receiver chip is required, and manufacturers must appreciate and act on this global market potential.

Click here to read the entire article at Radio World.

5 thoughts on “BBC is “keen to exploit DRM” but manufacturers must develop a multi-standard receiver chip

  1. Tom Reitzel

    I do agree that a multi-standard chip in a receiver would hasten the lowering of manufacturing costs, at least initially, which could spur consumption. I don’t necessarily agree with Nigel that a multi-standard chip is required, though, for successful adoption of DRM by the marketplace. As Nigel addresses, the feather in DRM’s cap is its flexibility in overcoming informational gatekeepers. Yes, a multi-standard chip COULD help adoption of DRM, but promotion of DRM’s strengths is more important in my opinion. Every time a corporation such as Facebook or a governmental agency like the NSA is exposed for spying, DRM’s prospects brighten.

  2. Keith Perron

    DRM’s time has past. It was launched almost 20 years ago and what has happened in that time. At least 2 dozen member who were part of the consortium left as they saw no future. Countries that announced 15 years ago would be expanding DRM all pulled the plug and receivers? Where are the receivers?

    Technology changes have taken place. If hey managed to get it off the ground in 1997 there would have been a better chance of it surviving. Yes it does sound fantastic when the engineering is correct. BETA was also a better video format than VHS, but VHS became the international standard.

  3. Tom Servo

    The crazy thing is there are tens of thousands (most likely) of SDRs in use worldwide now, and they all can decode DRM now without any extra hardware. Just use the DREAM program and a virtual audio cable. So there’s a decent audience out there, especially in the US, that’s technically proficient enough to listen in, but there just aren’t any signals to decode anymore.

    Seems like that user base should make up for the lack of radios at this point. DRM is never going to be a useful tool for broadcasting to Africa or Oceania except maybe to feed FM low power rebroadcasters a la RNZI. But some plucky broadcaster could certainly try out an occasional DRM broadcast to EU and the US for those of us with SDRs to have some higher quality audio to listen to occasionally.

    The few times conditions have been good enough for me to hear RRI or Kuwait in DRM, it’s been a good taste of what is possible, and I’d like it if there was more to choose from.

  4. Mangosman

    Other than the frequency range used, the DAB+ and DRM have very similar processing. Those who are different is the old DAB and so if the UK decide to convert to DAB+ as a condition of an analog radio switchoff. This happened in Norway and is also happening in Switzerland, Germany and Denmark. There may be other European countries. The other exception is HDRadio who require licencing and keeps parts of the standard such as the audio compression secret.

    What is required is a receiver which will tune DAB+174 -230 MHz, in in bands, DRM from 535 kHz to 1700, 2.3 – 26 MHz and 47 – 230 MHz. These radios need a colour screen to show the slideshow, Journaline and Emergency Warning System. The reception is available on a single chip except tuning, the processing for slideshow, Journaline and EWS is identical.

    There is also a real requirement for a vehicle infotainment system to tune the above signals but commercial radio claims around 30 % of listening occurs in cars. There is 800,000 DRM infotainment systems in India in 18 months from the completion of their huge DRM rollout. DAB+ infotainment system are used in Europe and Australia.

    The RTL receiver USB stick will only tune VHF and UHF but not lower, so it can only tune DAB+ and DRM+ channels.

    With regard to the Dream software it does not include the decompressor. Whilst an HE AAC decompressor is on the web, but broadcasts using the newer xHE-AAC compression there is not any free decompressors on the web.

    1. RonF


      Audio processing is very similar between DRM & DAB+ (well, identical in the case of HE-AAC). And the modulation is vaguely similar, in that both use COFDM (however there are major differences beyond that basic level).

      But the rest of the transmission structure & encoding is vastly different between DRM & DAB+, and require completely different approaches. At that level there are more similarities between DRM & HDradio, or between DAB & DAB+ (which are, unsurprisingly, _very_ similar to each other). DRM+ is somewhere in the middle, with similarities to both DRM & DAB/+ but also very different to both (though, utimately, closer to DRM30).

      There’s not really any “very similar processing” between them at all; at least, nowhere near as much as you seem to think from your previous comments.

      FWIW, “800,000 DRM infotainment systems in India in 18 months” might sound a lot to Australian ears – but it’s only ~14% of vehicles sold in that time. Or about 0.3% of total vehicles currently registered…


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