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Spotlight: Vatican Radio Goes Digital

By | April 26, 2004

      Radio Vaticana, the voice of the Vatican, is the latest radio broadcaster to follow the ongoing trend to initiate a switch from analog to higher-quality digital transmissions.

      Radio Vaticana programs currently are offered in 34 languages via satellite, short wave, medium wave and FM. The transition, involving Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) test transmissions and field experimentation, led Radio Vaticana to contract with The Thales Group to modify the company’s existing medium-wave AM transmitter for DRM digital operation.

      The Thales Group’s broadcast & multimedia business designs, develops, manufactures and markets equipment and systems for transmission of radio and TV signals, as well as digital video processing and multimedia distribution for satellite, broadcasting, cable TV and telecommunication services providers worldwide.

      The transmitter is intended to allow an easy and straightforward upgrade to digital operation. All of the world’s satellite radio services are digital and a wave of terrestrial broadcasters are following suit using similar transmission technology. The Vatican radio service had been working with Thales for almost 50 years prior to the current partnership to move into the digital age.

      “Radio Vaticana is proud to join forces with other international broadcasters to demonstrate the feasibility of the exciting new digital standard over medium-wave broadcast band,” said Fr. Lino Dan, technical director of Radio Vaticana. The transmitting center of Santa Maria di Galeria, approximately 30 kilometers northwest of Rome, is equipped with Thales transmitters especially designed to aid in medium-wave and short-wave transmissions. The latest- generation 500 kW short-wave transmitter from Thales, called the TSW 2500, can be upgraded to digital DRM operation, and it has been used for on-air services since 1997.Radio Vaticana, the state-owned public radio broadcaster of Vatican State, can be heard in digital mode daily on 1611 kHz. The radio service’s switch to digital transmission should enhance the quality of its broadcasts. Similar reasoning has led other radio broadcasters to make the same move in recent years. –Paul Dykewicz

      (Joseph Turbolski, Thales Broadcast & Multimedia, 413/998-1314)

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