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EUPEN, Belgium — The Belgian German-speaking Community’s Medienrat (Media Council) has given the go-ahead for private radio stations to enter the pilot project for the recently started DAB+ mux 8A operated by public broadcaster Belgischer Rundfunk (BRF). With no initiatives taken in Eastern Belgium, BRF decided to take the lead and set up a DAB+ network. The German-speaking Community — one of the three federal communities of Belgium — lies on the country’s eastern border with Germany.
On May 26, the government of the German-speaking Community assigned the 8A bloc to BRF for pilot broadcasts on five planned and coordinated transmitter sites (Amel, Burg Reuland, Eupen, Raeren and Recht).
Currently, only the Raeren/Petergensfeld transmitter broadcasts the DAB+ signals of BRF1 and BRF2. “The plan is to activate a second transmitter in Amel early next year,” commented Marc Schifflers, head of production and technology at BRF in Eupen. “The pilot project will run until the end of 2024, allowing us to evaluate the coverage of the two main DAB+ transmitters and detect any blind spots. As with our FM transmitter network, we will have to add gap fillers to achieve full coverage.”
BRF opted for a budget-friendly solution for the pilot project, allowing the station to define necessary measures before a fully-fledged DAB+ would be active.
On July 19, the Medienrat defined the shared use of the 8A MUX by Radio Contact Ostbelgien, 100.5 Das Hitradio, Radio 700 and Radio Sunshine alongside the BRF signal. The BRF is the MUX network manager. “The commercial stations transmit their signal to us, and we take on the DAB+ transmission,” continued Schifflers.
TVV Sound Project installed the first DAB+ transmitter site in Raeren/Petergensfeld in February. The company provides a broad range of radio and broadcast solutions. “Placing the antennas and transmitters at an altitude of over 500 meters was not straightforward,” commented Edo Dijkstra, CEO of TVV Sound Project.
“In Raeren, we installed an Aldena antenna system (ADB-4-030 four-bay antenna DAB+ aluminum dipoles 3 kW RMS EIA 7/8); DB Broadcast screen transmitter (digital multicast DAB+ amplifier 1200 Wrms); and Com-Tech DAB 2 kW filter (six-pole 200 mm bandpass filter TC 6D200R). We acquired experience installing our own MUX serving the Flemish Brabant region, where we successfully manage a network of eight local stations as part of a DAB+ trial project,” Dijkstra explained.
“We’re happy that DAB+ finally took off in the German-speaking part of Belgium. We were a true blind spot on the DAB+ map, and now we will be able to serve our listeners with the best digital quality,” concluded Schifflers.
“We will be delivering better sound quality than with our FM broadcasts and will undoubtedly broaden our audience reach, especially in cars where DAB+ is the standard,” added Tim Oliver Gorgels, spokesman for 100.5 Das Hitradio. “The Raeren DAB+ transmitter reaches the Euregio triangle (Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany) in digital quality.”