The significance of digital audio broadcasting, which was put forth in the Ninth Plan, is likely to be firmed up further in the Tenth Plan. The Tenth Plan document is still getting finalised, but it is clear that the thrust area at AIR will be ‘going digital’. To begin with, AIR is planning to go for digital satellite radio. The digital satellite channel, which would be available on the Worldspace receiver, would be beamed across SouthEast Asia also. AIR’s digital satellite project is likely to take off within a couple of months and may then go into expansion mode during the next Plan period.
Digital audio broadcasting in the terrestrial mode is also something that AIR is looking at seriously. To begin with, digital audio will come to the four metros. The only hitch in this system is the high cost of the receiver. In the UK, for instance, a digital audio set costs around 100 pounds.
Despite the cost hurdle, there is no option but to go digital ultimately, according to the official. ‘‘India cannot remain in the analog mode in isolation,’’ he said. India has to necessarily switch over to digital broadcasting, he added, and therefore to an era of more spectrum and more channels.