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First step towards radio digitalisation

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission yesterday joined with eight state agencies to test run digital radio broadcasting.

"This is considered the first step to the digitalisation of radio broadcasting in the country, expected to be fully launched next year," NBTC secretary-general Thakorn Tanthasit said yesterday.

The experiment will use the existing infrastructures of the Armed Forces, Army, Navy, Air Force, National Police, Public Relations Department, Secretariat of the House of Representatives and MCOT.

The test is aimed at furthering research on the feasibility of digital radio, which will be transmitted over the very high frequency (VHF) band, some of which carries analog terrestrial TV broadcasts.

Another objective is to raise public awareness about digital radio broadcasting, which will have an impact on all people in the country.

Thanachai Wongthongsri, executive vice president of MCOT, said MCOT operates 62 sites for FM and AM radio broadcasting. The company was ready to conduct the test run on its radio broadcasting towers in key provinces.

Apinan Juntarungsri, director-general of the Public Relations Department, said his agency would soon discuss with the NBTC in greater detail on this development.

To ensure sufficient VHF bandwidth for digital radio broadcasting in the near future, Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the Broadcasting Committee, said this transition to digital radio broadcasting will be in tandem with the analog TV switch-off process.

During the transition to digital terrestrial TV, state-run broadcasters holding VHF frequencies for analog terrestrial TV should return the frequencies to the NBTC once they transmit their TV programmes fully via the digital terrestrial TV platform, he said.

The analog TV switch-off may take more than three years to complete, but the debut of digital radio is expected by next year under the Broadcasting Master Plan (2012-16).


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