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UNESCO helps ABU to develop low-cost mobile broadcasting system

02-05-2006 (Paris)
UNESCO helps ABU to develop low-cost mobile broadcasting system
Demonstrating the possibility of using digital technology for low cost radio broadcasting, a prototype of a “radio-in-a-box” was recently developed by the Studio Technology and Training Team of the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU).
A reliable, sturdy and low cost integrated mobile broadcasting system based on digital technologies was a long felt requirement of broadcasters working in disaster and emergency response community broadcasting.

The “box” measuring around 55 x 50 cm contains a laptop, mixer, CD/Cassette player and a 30W FM transmitter. The “box” can be used to produce radio programmes using a portable digital audio recorder, microphone inputs or other pre-recorded material; schedule play lists for playback automatically and broadcast via the built-in FM transmitter.

UNESCO commissioned the ABU to design and build the box which should cost within US$ 5000. The equipment was sourced from various parts of the world and met the cost requirement. The laptop is the heart of the system, being used for editing with freeware software and for the play out of scheduled programmes also using freeware. Using the portable digital audio recorder interviews and other events taking place in remote areas can be recorded. This material is then downloaded via the USB port to the laptop, where it can be edited and prepared for broadcast.

The 30W transmitter can be tuned to any frequency within the FM band by a very simple setting process. The transmitter which is only 13 cm in height is heavily screened to be able to be used close to audio sources without interference.

According Rukmin Wijemanne, the Head of Studio Technology and Training at ABU the radio-in-a-box lends an ideal way to provide broadcast communications to remote communities as it can be transported to such areas easily and a broadcasting station set up in very short time. It is also ideal to serve disaster hit areas where broadcasting infrastructure may have been destroyed.

ABU will send one unit to UNESCO in Paris and another will be kept in the ABU secretariat to be demonstrated to broadcasters from developing countries. ABU has obtained an “Experimental Broadcast License” from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission for the purpose.
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