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Monday, January 18, 2016

World Radio TV Handbook 2016 - review


PRINT PUBLICATION REVIEW – WORLD RADIO TV HANDBOOK – 70TH EDITION – DECEMBER 2015 (Reviewer: Bob Padula, Melbourne, Australia, January 2016)
World Publications Ltd, Oxford, UK
Publisher: Nicholas Hardyman  
ISBN: 978-0-9555481-8-5 and 0955548187
RRP 35 British Pounds (free 1st Class postage to UK, overseas rates dependent on destination)

Declaring itself as “The World’s most comprehensive and up-to-date Guide to Broadcasting”, this annual reference (WRTH) of 672 pages is a very comprehensive directory of world longwave, mediumwave, and shortwave radio and TV broadcasting, with its principal Sections being:
  • Features
  • World Maps
  • Equipment Reviews
  • National Radio
  • International Radio
  • Frequency Lists
  • Clandestine and other target broadcasters
  • National Television
  • References
Principal sub-chapters include
  • Brief History of the WRTH
  • History of Mediumwave and Longwave broadcasting in the UK
  • 70 Years of Receivers
  • Receiver Reviews for 2016
  • Radio in Timor-Leste
  • Future of Shortwave Broadcasting
  • Guide to Software Defined Receivers – what they are how they work
  • HF Broadcasting Reception Conditions expected during 2016
  • Clubs and Internet Resources for International Listeners and “DXers”
  • International and Domestic Transmitter Sites
  • Standard Time and Frequency Transmissions
  • International Broadcasting Organizations
  • 12 pages of advertising.
WRTH expresses concern at the continuing and steady decline of traditional shortwave and mediumwave broadcasting worldwide, implying that this is now a legacy of the past, being quickly overtaken by modern distribution platforms such as the internet, streaming audio and video, and mobile technology.

Earlier editions of WRTH featured excellent reviews of newly released general communications receivers – only four are described for 2016, CC Skywave, AOR AR–DV1, Eton Satellit Grundig, and the Tecson PL-680, with no new desktop receivers.

Readers are reminded that modern high-grade receivers now incorporate new and emerging digital design technology, known as Digital System Processing (DSP) supplanting classical analogue functions. DSP architectures are being developed to allow for the expansion of Software Defined Radio (SDR) capability,where PCs are used for down-conversion of signal output to PCs. Unfortunately, DSP equipment remains essentially in the realm of professional monitors, the military, engineering institutions, broadcasters and government organizations, out of reach to general radio monitoring enthusiasts with limited means, due to the very high initial cost and ongoing maintenance requirements.

Study of the listings in WRTH also suggests that high frequency Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) technology appears to have stagnated due to lack of ready acceptance of this modulation system for long-distance multi-hop transmission, even though some broadcasters are continuing to persevere with what is being regarded across the industry as a redundant technology not supported by the availability of any inexpensive consumer-level receivers. HF DRM is now  mainly used for the delivery of content for national short-distance point-to-point rebroadcasting and it could be inferred as ludicrous that DRM is being maintained under such circumstances. The US BBG/IBB does not use this technology and Broadcast Australia/Radio Australia abandoned it during 2015.

Readers will also note the  reduced number of subscription (fee)-based Clubs for listeners, and perceptive users could infer that traditional “DX Clubs” may no longer be relevant, nor serve any real purpose. Some of the entries appear to be small localized “Listening Clubs” in the South Asian region, supporting selected international shortwave broadcasters. A few long-established monitoring clubs are represented by display advertisements. The number of long-established subscription–based Clubs offering both print or on-line material has trended upwards.

The listing of “Selected Internet Resources for Radio Listeners and DXers” indicates the increased use of electronic means of information exchange between enthusiasts – many of these entries included personal Weblogs or Websites and free Email lists and Bulletin Boards.

In particular, radio listening enthusiasts who entered the radio listening hobby in the 1940s and 1950s will appreciate the descriptions of selected general-coverage communications receivers, by the overview of trends in receiver technology, design, manufacture, performance, history and availabilityover 70 years. The transition from valve-type superheterodynes to solid-state transistorised solid-state techniques marked a major shift in the evolution of radio receiver design, which introduced remarkable improvement in operational performance. WRTH traces the development of frequency synthesizers and the phase-locked-loop (PLL), techniques which survive to the present.

Some 60% of the 12 pages of diaplay advertising pages include infornation from equipment manufacturers and distributors reinforces the industry movement away from “classical” analogue receiver design techniques. The remainder are promotions for radio monitoring organizations.

This directory would be of interest to anyone with an affinity or involvement with radio/TV broadcasting, ranging from the casual listener to professional monitors.

Free updates are available on-line throughout the year from the WRTH Website, www.wrth.com.

Copies may be ordered direct from the Publisher, or through selected booksellers worldwide.

(Bob Padula OAM is a Chartered Professional Engineer (Radio Communications), holding the rank of CPEng, MIE(Aust), offering specialized consultancy services in the field of international HF broadcasting)

1 comment:

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