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BBC World Service launches in Belgium

From a press release to news@media.info
Posted 20 October 2015, 6.33am edt

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BBC World Service Radio will be available, in English, across Belgium in November according to multiplex operator Norkring.

A national DAB+ multiplex came to Belgium earlier this year, and currently carrries seven commercial radio stations - TOPradio, VBRO Radio, Radio Maria, Radio FG, Radio Stad, Family Radio and Club FM. The BBC World Service will be added to the multiplex in November.

The multiplex operator says that the World Service will be available "at home, at work or in the car in perfect HD digital quality".

There's a public service multiplex as well, which carries the Flemish VRT and French RTBF, who offer a total of sixteen channels in DAB+.

The BBC World Service is also available on DAB+ in Malta; on FM in places like Berlin and Accra; and on FM HD2 channels across the US, as well as online, shortwave, FM and satellite retransmissions all over the world.

Press release

BBC radio op DAB+

(Antwerpen - 12 oktober 2015) – Norkring België verwelkomt in november de Engelstalige BBC World Service radio op het DAB+ netwerk.

BBC is één van de meest gerenommeerde omroepen ter wereld.

Eerder dit jaar lanceerde Norkring een commercieel DAB+ platform waarop momenteel 7 commerciële radiozenders* te beluisteren zijn. BBC World Service wordt eind deze maand aan het aanbod toegevoegd en zal dus ook thuis, op het werk of in de wagen gratis te beluisteren zijn in een perfecte digitale HD kwaliteit.

Het digitale aanbod van de VRT en RTBF (in totaal 16 DAB kanalen) blijft uiteraard behouden.

Norkring België staat als DAB+ licentiehouder in voor de distributie van het digitale signaal door de ether.

*TOPradio, VBRO Radio, Radio Maria, Radio FG, Radio Stad, FamilyRadio en ClubFM

More information

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Comments

1 year, 7 months ago

Well Belgium is doing better than we are here in the UK, we have to put up with listening to BBC World Service in 64 bits in mono, good for Belgium, the listener's in that country can listen to it in 'perfect HD digital quality' lucky them

PRO1 year, 7 months ago

All services on this multiplex are 64kbps AACplus services. There is a lot of empty, unused space. I suspect that Norkring have asked to rebroadcast the World Service for a time to offer additional choice, and are simply rebroadcasting the stereo feed available on Astra or Eutelsat. The Eutelsat feed is 192kbps stereo.

1 year, 7 months ago

Thank you James for telling me about that, nevertheless 192kbps in stereo is far better than 64kbps in mono. 64kbps in mono sounds like the 'old days' when my batteries were running down on the transistor radio I used to have listening on Medium Wave.

PRO1 year, 7 months ago

Do you actually believe that, Alan?

Are you entirely serious when you say that 64kbps MP2 is worse than AM? Or are you just talking bullshit? I suspect the latter, but I'd be fascinated to know if you really believe that a rock solid and clear digital signal is somehow worse than a poor AM one.

1 year, 7 months ago

Perhaps I am being a little harsh regarding 64kbps MP2 being worse than AM, although I am really annoyed the way things are now, when I got my first DAB radio now about 10 years ago, practically all the stations were on 128kbps in stereo but now most are in mono at 64kbps or 80kbps apart from Classic FM and Capital, its nice to hear most of the BBC stations still on 128kbps in stereo. I do believe the future is digital like you do, its just a pity that they don't broadcast at least at 80kbps in mono for the speech programs. I have 3 DAB radios, two are Pure Evoke and the other is a Pure One Elite, all have good sound even at 64kbps, yes I was talking bullshit about that and I do apologise.

PRO1 year, 7 months ago

Like you, I'm sad that much is now mono; and sad that we've not embraced DAB+.

But when it comes to denouncing DAB as 'sounding worse than AM', audio quality critics quickly get put into the green ink brigade and aren't taken seriously. That's a shame, because there is a valid argument that is now being ignored.

1 year, 7 months ago

Indeed - and when I made the point in another thread that if audiophiles don't easily get access to information about audio bitrates on other digital platforms such as Freeview or satellite - they don't seem to complain about the audio quality, even though the bitrates (in the same audio format) are often the same, occasionally worse, than DAB.

As for the BBC World Service not being in super stereophonic three dimensional surround sound during speech programs which might play 5 second musical stings that whizz, bang, fizz, crash, zap, laser effect or anything else that seems to make such audiophiles want to unzip their trousers, it really doesn't bother me at all because I'm far too busy listening to the intellectual program content. If you don't like that, then perhaps the World Service isn't for you.

1 year, 7 months ago

DAB channels generally sound worse than their output versions on FM. DAB at 64kbps does sound marginally better than channels on medium wave in good AM reception areas like parts of Stirlingshire and Derry City, with no incoming interference acting as a spoiler for listeners. Medium wave and even short wave stations can sound pleasing on a good receiver!

HD radio in the USA/Mexico excepted, DAB UK must be the only digital platform in the world that is riddled with politics, akin to the tribal rants heard in Stormont Castle. The polarised arguments go round and round with no solution in sight. That is, in the short term, at least.
You have the DABtists on one hand who deny that vanilla DAB is not fit for purpose anymore and pretend that 112 kbps and 64kbps channels sound great!
You have the DAB critics on the other hand who only want an extra bit of station bandwidth to improve listening pleasure. These DAB critics are not geeks, audiophiles, zealouts or even digital refuseniks, they only want a better sounding system that matches FM, before a digital switch over plan is put in place.

I have been tagged in the past which does expose I've yet to be DABtised. Even so, I do love my digital internet radios with DAB included and only hope in time we can get DAB+, generally carrying services that sound a bit like 128kbps MP3 on eradio.

1 year, 7 months ago

First of all, the BBC World Service isn't available on FM in the UK, so there's no way that the DAB channel can "sound worse" than FM, although I do recall that the World Service was available to some parts of the UK on medium wave, which by your own admission you were "being a little harsh regarding 64kbps MP2 being worse than AM."

When you say that DAB channels generally sound worse than their output on FM, most people struggle to get hiss-free reception on FM. Many people suffer audio distortion and most people are also using radio devices that either have one speaker or have an FM radio that they would switch to mono (for hiss free reception) or the radio itself reduces the signal to mono. Also, most FM channels use high levels of audio compression and processing, making them sound shouty, which they do to compensate for FM's problems with background noise and hiss.

Finally, if you're bothered about the quality of music on DAB - then I have to ask why are you getting so bothered, when you are being given music to listen to for free? With the exception of the BBC services and the licence fee, you're not paying for it. You're getting it for nothing. Why should the quality matter to you so much when you're getting a freebie? If you want to listen to music in high quality, then surely if you're such a music fan, you should be paying for it. If you want it in CD quality - go buy CD's - and that way you can also help to pay the wages of the musicians whose work you seem to love soooooooo much that you yearn to listen to it in high quality. Otherwise, you should put up and shut up!

PRO1 year, 7 months ago

Art, the point is that - rightly - some are worried that DAB is a step down from FM. In many cases - like most of the commercial services - it is. It does, however, come with a bunch of new services which aren't available otherwise.

In my bedroom or bathroom (where I don't have a moronbox television) I can't get BBC World Service through an aerial on anything other than DAB. So any sound quality threshold for the World Service is better than none.

However, Radio X's stereo FM signal on 104.9 in London sounds markedly better than the mono, bandwidth-constrained version on DAB. If you tell me that the DAB version is the future, I'd fight to retain FM. And it's here that I'd say DAB sounds worse than FM, since it currently does.

The "but it's free so why should you care" argument is rather specious. I do still want a great service and not a rubbish one; and I'm currently getting a great service on FM - I just won't on DAB.

1 year, 7 months ago

Art, The music is free on eradio as well as it is on DAB.
DAB original MP2 cannot cater for the extended choice of primary digital radio stations now available in the UK. The raft of stations owned by Absolute Radio is an example. It would be great to hear the full suite of Absolute radio services in stereo on a national multiplex.
Currently, mobile broadband is the only provider in a motor car to give you that kind of first class radio service!
DAB+ has got to be the ace card for a future digital switchover plan!

Oddly enough, I never knew that BBC World Service was available in stereo until I read it on this thread..

1 year, 7 months ago

Art, The music is free on eradio as well as it is on DAB.
DAB original MP2 cannot cater for the extended choice of primary digital radio stations now available in the UK. The raft of stations owned by Absolute Radio is an example. It would be great to hear the full suite of Absolute radio services in stereo on a national multiplex.
Currently, mobile broadband is the only provider in a motor car to give you that kind of first class radio service!
DAB+ has got to be the ace card for a future digital switchover plan!

Oddly enough, I never knew that BBC World Service was available in stereo until I read it on this thread..

1 year, 7 months ago

Once again I'll apologise regarding my comments about AM but regarding FM and DAB I suppose it all depends on the bit rate, music at 64kbps does not sound as good as at 128kbps. I was comparing Classic FM on the same set on DAB and FM, they used to be on 160 but now are at 128kbps, I would say at the 160 DAB and FM were about same but now at 128 I would say that FM is "slightly" better, but nevertheless it still sounds OK on DAB.

PRO1 year, 7 months ago

Music at 64kbps - would be interested in a few examples of DAB actually broadcasting in 64kbps for music stations.

1 year, 7 months ago

The Access channel on the Tayside multiplex is at 64K mono. It re-broadcasts two hospital stations, one of which is on micro-powered FM transmitters. It also broadcasts Heartland FM, which is only available in mono on FM - with virtually no audio compression and processing. The Bauer MUX's have a couple of stations at 64K mono. Even so, they still sound better and have a wider dynamic range than music stations on medium wave or short wave that radio anoraks and radio forumites get really excited about.

You complain about Radio X being in mono on DAB - complain to them. It could be that if they get enough complaints and more especially if listeners in Manchester (rather than elsewhere in the UK) SWITCH OFF in protest because of it, Global might change their mind.

However, do listeners actually really care? It would appear not if you take the increased success of Absolute 80's AFTER its bitrates were reduced and the station became a mono service.

Alan McGee of Creation records always made a point of listening to final records through a single tiny speaker because he reckoned that's how most people listen to music.

Again, I make the point that commercial radio, after THEY have paid THEIR licences to broadcast music, they are giving you a dose of music for free, whether its in stereo or mono. If you enjoy the music so much, buy it - it usually comes in higher quality stereo and the artists get extra income from your support ....... otherwise you're just a freeloader and you still complain that something you're getting for nothing is not good enough.

1 year, 7 months ago

Art, I rarely listen to commercial radio stations for the exception of Absolute Radio or Absolute 60s. The main reason being all the commercial stations transmitting within Scotland all sound the same with duplicated formats. These commercial services are not very intelligent on programming. I really don't care a toss about Heart, Heat or even Clyde 3.
I mainly listen to BBC services which I pay for through the licence fee. The BBC is giving me everything that the commercial sector will never deliver in a thousand years. If the BBC services are axed in the future, I am willing to subscribe for a service bringing a real diversity of choice.
I have stated it before, without BBC radio, the listening masses will be left with Radio GA GA

I also buy the occasional CD.

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