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The Digital Radio Mondiale Consortium announced that it will relaunch the South African DRM Group on March 24 during an Update and Launch virtual event.
The evaluation and demonstration of the various digital audio broadcasting standards started in South Africa over 20 years ago.
In 2014, the DRM Consortium established a Southern African Platform led by the managing director of Radio Pulpit, as the community station conducted a successful DRM for AM (medium-wave) trial.
A DRM in FM trial followed with Kofifi FM 97.2 by Wecodec, a community radio station in Westbury/Johannesburg supported by South African organisations and consortium members. The trial report has been accepted as an ITU document to be published imminently.
In 2020, the South African government issued its radio digitization policy direction announcing DRM and DAB+ as its preferred digital sound broadcasting standards. The SA regulator, ICASA, issued a draft licensing framework for public comment in November. The SA DRM group says it is ready to support ICASA in establishing digitized radio by making best use of spectrum, infrastructure and applications.
The relaunched SA DRM group has the task of advocating the use of DRM as the preferred standard in the country and industry. DRM’s advantages would benefit the entire South African population, says the consortium. It notes that there is still a need for universal access to information and education to each citizen, including the 11 million disabled people; a thirst for connection and betterment; and the necessity for job creation, especially amongst the youth.
The next stage for the industry is the implementation of digital radio. The SA DRM group will be the authority for creating awareness of DRM to the general public, stakeholders, suppliers, manufacturers, automotive, retailers and all government entities.
Having opted for a two-standard solution, South Africa has the historic chance to lead the way in radio digitization, becoming an example and an exporter to the whole continent and the world.
“This is a great moment for the rollout of radio digitization in South Africa and we have faith and great hopes of the work of all the SA DRM group members and supporters, all those who want DRM to flourish and meet the needs of all South Africans,” said DRM Chairman Ruxandra Obreja. “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 other DRM national platforms (in Germany, India, Brazil) engaged in pushing the rollout of the DRM standard across not only the BRICS countries but also globally. The relaunched SA DRM Group is led by an interim Board that includes learned and experienced business people from the radio sector.