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Letter: Forget About AM. Let’s Switch to DRM

"All existing AM & FM radio transmissions in North America are expensive and polluting"

In this letter to the editor, the author comments on recent, ongoing efforts to protect AM radio in cars. Read more about the future of AM here. Comment on this or any article. Email [email protected].

If the legislators at the behest of the telco industry made the TV industry convert from analog to digital 14 years ago, then they can legislate again for AM to be retained. 

However, AM broadcasting started at the same time as the ‘T’ model Ford and the car industry is moving into the digital age. Shouldn’t radio do the same? Analog FM is 87 years old. All existing AM & FM radio transmissions in North America are expensive and polluting. 

Europe has made the installation of terrestrial broadcast digital radio compulsory in all new cars since 2020. Indian car manufacturers have voluntarily installed Digital Radio Mondiale receivers in all new cars at no extra cost. They have strong DRM signals over the whole country with a population 4 times that of the USA.

[Related: “DRM Is Smart and on the Way Up“]

Whilst the American TV stations use the spectrum for DAB+, they are not using Band 1 TV Channels 2 – 6, which could be repurposed to high-powered DRM to carry all existing broadcasters. A single transmitter can carry up to 18 audio channels without interfering with other broadcasters. To reduce costs transmitters could be shared between broadcasters who still have complete control over their own signals.

Better than making AM compulsory, make the 14-year-old Band 1 DRM compulsory instead. This will give broadcasters an advantage over the telcos/IT industry. [It’s] the cheapest and cleanest distribution system for local programming that people want.

— Alan Hughes, Hamersley Western Australia

[Check Out More Letters at Radio World’s Reader’s Forum Section]