Czech Radio to spearhead digital radio revolution with new stations

Czech Radio recently launched a new Science and Technology station - Leonardo. At the moment you can only listen via the Internet, but in a few months Leonardo will become one of the first in the country to be broadcast digitally, rather than on classic radio waves. We spoke to Radio Prague's director Miroslav Krupicka about the beginnings of the Czech Republic's digital revolution.

"There are three digital radio systems all over Europe. There's the DVBT system, which is primarily a TV system which can broadcast radio too. Then there's DAB, a radio system which is very popular in some countries of Western Europe such as England and the Benelux countries. And then there's DRM, which is a system which allows us to broadcast digitally on shortwave and even mediumwave frequencies which is something that we - Radio Prague - are looking forward to having in the near future."

How many digital radio stations are there operating - albeit on a provisional basis - within Czech Radio?

Miroslav Krupicka
"Well at the moment there are none. There are three digital projects, three digital stations, that are in operation but they are not yet broadcasting digitally. They are supposed to be on the DVBT system or on the DVBT multiplex later this year, most probably in October. The stations are Radio Cesko - Radio Czechia - which is a news and current affairs station produced by Czech Radio, then there's Radio D-Dur, which is a classical music station playing classical music only, 24 hours a day, and then there's Leonardo, which is a science and technology station."

When do you think Radio Prague will start broadcasting digitally?

"As far as Radio Prague is concerned I think it might happen next year. Not all of our programmes, not all of our broadcasts will be broadcast digitally, but some of our programmes might be broadcast digitally via some other foreign broadcasters. We can 'hire' a digital space on foreign broadcasters' transmitters, such as the transmitters in Germany or in England. Deutsche Telecom or Merlin in Britain broadcast digitally already. We can hire a space there and broadcast digitally via these foreign stations, which is something I expect would happen maybe next year."

The million-dollar question - do you think digital is ever going to replace shortwave?

"Yes, in the very distance future, but not in the coming years, and I would even say decades. You probably won't be able to digitalise the whole spectrum. The spectrum is very wide, so chunks of the spectrum will be digital only, but the rest will always serve the old-fashioned shortwave transmission. Because, you know, countries in the third world such as India or countries in Africa still use it, and it's very difficult to imagine that in a few years' time they would switch to digital and buy new transmitters, new technology and change the system completely."

So that's good news I'm sure for our many listeners who listen to Radio Prague on shortwave.

"Yes, definitely."