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Digital radio can help the broadcast sector double its revenues to Rs 12,300 crore

The adoption of digital radio technology can help the broadcast sector double its revenues to Rs 12,300 crore in five years riding on a robust mobile ecosystem, a new report showed on Thursday.



The country has so far tested two technologies — HD Radio and Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) — for digital broadcasting in FM bands.

According to a report by the India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) and EY, radio stations will go up from less than 300 today to over 1,100 without additional spectrum and mass adoption cannot happen without the support of a mobile ecosystem.

“Digital broadcast radio has the ability to cater to segments of entry-level smartphones and several hundred million feature phone users to receive enhanced services in areas of health, education, emergency and weather which by complementing data networks decongest them,” said Pankaj Mohindroo, Chairman, ICEA.

“Communication usage with internet of things (IoT) devices are next steps envisaged in the pipeline too,” he added.

Digital radio broadcasting can be extremely beneficial for all the stakeholders in the sector — broadcasters, listeners, advertisers and the regulators — and can help the FM radio segment boost revenues.

This comes at a time when the FM radio segment has been struggling to generate robust revenues over the past few years.

“It would lead to more advertising inventory to sell with the ability to charge higher rates based on segmented audiences. Given that the digital radio system can provide listenership data, broadcasters can build trust and eventually grow revenues,” the report noted.

Cost optimisation is another major factor of these technologies for the broadcasters as their transmitters use significantly less power as compared to analogue radio transmitters, it added.

“Digital radio can provide a much-needed boost to the Indian radio segment. It can help grow the radio segment in India by 3x over 5 years,” said Ashish Pherwani, Partner, EY LLP (India).

Around 4 times more channels are possible within the same frequency which can provide more options to listeners.

Further, the technology is broadcast-centric, and consumers would not have to pay any data charges, said the report.

The report recommended innovations around cost-effective chipsets, antennas and software to drive quicker adoption of digital radio.

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