South African DRM group relaunches to facilitate progress in radio digitalization

The South African DRM Group was relaunched on March 24th during an Update and Relaunch virtual event.

The evaluation and demonstration of the various digitalization audio and broadcasting standards started in South Africa over 20 years ago.

In 2014 the Digital Radio Mondiale Consortium established a Southern African platform led by the Managing Director of Radio Pulpit, as the community station took the initiative and conducted a successful DRM for AM (medium wave) trial.

This was followed by the successful DRM in FM trial of Kotifi FM 97.2 by Wecodec, a community radio station in Westbury/Johannesburg supported by South African organizations and Consortium members. The final document has been accepted as an ITU document to be published imminently.

In 2020 great progress was made when the South African Government issued its radio digitization policy announcing DRM and DAB+ as its preferred digital sound broadcasting (DSB) standards. A draft licensing framework was issued for public comment by the SA regulator ICASA in November 2020. The SA DRM Group is ready to support ICASA in establishing digitized radio by making best use of spectrum, infrastructure and application.

The relaunched SA DRM group has the big task of advocating the use of DRM as the preferred standard in the country. There is still a need of universal access to information and education to each citizen, including the 11 million disabled people; a thirst for connection and betterment; and the necessity of job creation, especially amongst the youth.

The next stage for the industry is the digitization of the radio. The SA DRM Group aims to be the credible authority that will create the awareness of DRM to the general public, stakeholders, suppliers, manufacturers, automotive, retailers and all government entities.

Having opted for a dual transmission standard solution, South Africa has the historic chance to lead the way to radio digitization, becoming an example and exporter to the whole continent and the world.

The DRM Consortium is very supportive of the SA DRM Group and, as the DRM Chairman, Ruxandra Obreja, noted, “this is a great moment for the rollout of radio digitization in South Africa and we have faith and great hopes of the works of all the DRM Group members and supporters, all those who want DRM to flourish and meet the needs of all South Africans. The relaunched SA DRM Group will build and improve on previous successes and will give the country a lasting legacy. We wish all the members lots of success!”

The South African DRM Group will join the ranks of other DRM platforms in Germany, India, Brazil, engaged in pushing the rollout of the DRM standards in not only the BRICS countries but also the whole world. The relaunched SA DRM Group is led by a strong Interim Board comprising learned and experienced business people from the radio sector.

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