Radio Currents Online - Dec 25 - Dec 31, 2006

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FCC Proposes Nationwide Broadband Public Safety Network
Washington - Dec 26, 2006 - The FCC has proposed setting aside spectrum for a new nationwide broadband IP emergency communications network. Located in the 700MHz band, the network would consist of 12MHz of spectrum assigned to a single private sector licensee designated by the FCC to set up and operate it. Though the spectrum is already set aside for public safety communications, its use has not proven reliable during emergencies such as the 9/11 terrorist attack and Hurricane Katrina. Existing systems are based upon interconnected, but diverse, networks and technologies.

Cisco Systems and Motorola are among companies that have developed IP-based wireless systems designed for interoperability among many different devices. The FCC said it undertook the proposed rulemaking because it wanted to take advantage of this new type of technology. Under the proposal, the spectrum would be assigned to one national licensee that could offer public-safety agencies voluntary access to a broadband service for a fee. The broadband licensee would also operate on a secondary basis on the narrowband public safety spectrum in the 700MHz band.

Though the basic idea received unanimous support among the commissioners, the proposal left many unanswered questions. Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein acknowledged that a further Notice of Proposed Rule Making that details a more specific and complete proposal might be needed.

War of the Worlds, Belgian Style
Brussels, Belgium - Dec 26, 2006 – Courtesy of Broadcast Engineering - It has been said that in this media-savvy age of sophisticated electronic communications no one could again create a mass audience scare the likes of the Martian invasion Orson Welles depicted in his 1938 radio adaptation of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds. Last week, Belgium got its own taste of the power of broadcasting to create mass public fear. And it was, just as with the Orson Welles broadcast, all in the name of art.

A fictional newscast showed fuzzy pictures that appeared to be Belgium's King Albert II and Queen Paola fleeing the country on an air force plane as pro-monarchy demonstrators waved Belgian flags outside the royal palace. Then there was live footage of trams blocked at Belgium's new border. Flanders, the report declared, had proclaimed its independence. Belgium, a nation of 10 million people, was no more.

It was all fictional drama telecast by public broadcaster RTBF, but it was effective in whipping up a fury as more than 2000 frantic viewers jammed RTBF's switchboard. The Dec. 21, 2006, issue of Le Soir newspaper announced that "Belgium Died Last Night." Belgium embassies throughout the world called authorities back home to check whether Belgium's federal system had indeed collapsed.


New York's WQHT Partners with Amp'd Mobile
New York - Dec 21, 2006 - Emmis-owned WQHT, Hot 97 in New York, and Amp'd Mobile have entered into a strategic co-promotional partnership to stream Hot 97 to Amp'd Mobile customers.

Amp'd Mobile is an integrated mobile entertainment company. Using EVDO broadband wireless, the company brings unique music, video and gaming offerings to its consumers.

Arbitron Adds Four New Markets to Spring 2007 Survey
Columbia, MD - Dec 11, 2006 - Arbitron has added four new radio markets to the Spring 2007 survey. The markets are Aspen, CO; Grand Island-Kearney, NE; Hot Springs, AR, and Twin Falls (Sun Valley), ID. These Spring 2007 markets join Kalispell-Flathead Valley, MT, and Las Cruces, NM, which were first measured with the Fall 2006 survey.

In Spring 1996, Arbitron surveyed 262 syndicated radio markets. In Spring 2007, Arbitron will measure 301 markets.

Market NameFirst SurveyPersons 12+ PopulationEstimated Market Rank
Aspen, COSpring 2007 55,800#301
Grand Island-Kearney, NESpring 2007111,300#264
Hot Springs, ARSpring 200782,600#290
Twin Falls (Sun Valley), IDSpring 2007142,700#234
Kalispell-Flathead Valley, MT Fall 2006115,500#262
Las Cruces, NMFall 2006159,200#227

The new markets are scheduled to be measured twice each year; in the fall and spring.


New BMWs to Include Mulitcast-capable HD Radio Receivers
Woodcliff Lake, NJ - Dec 20, 2006 - BMW will offer a factory-installed digital HD Radio receiver with FM multicast capability as an option in its new 3 Series hardtop convertible. In August 2005, BMW included an OEM HD Radio receiver in its 2006 7 Series models. In November 2005 the HD Radio option was extended to include the 2006 6 Series vehicles.

In June 2006, the company announced that HD Radio would be offered in its 2007 5 Series models. The HD Radio option on the 2007 BMW 3 Series convertible will have a suggested retail price of $500.

Eye on IBOC

Canada Rules to Allow HD Radio
Ottawa - Dec 15, 2006 - The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the independent, public authority that regulates and supervises broadcasting and telecommunications in Canada, has revised its policy for digital radio broadcasting to consider the HD Radio in-band on-channel (IBOC) system. In its Public Notice CRTC 2006-160, the Commission commented that it would be prepared to authorize services using IBOC technology for the AM or FM bands if the Canadian Department of Industry authorizes services using the technology under the Radiocommunication Act. The commission added that "an expedited process would be adopted for stations that propose to transmit a digital simulcast of their analog service."

Robert Struble, president of Ibiquity Digital said, "The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) began HD Radio testing in September 2006, focusing on transmissions from Toronto and Peterborough, Ontario. Full results have not yet been published by the CBC, but early feedback has been very positive. There are plans to begin testing on MW-AM operations in early 2007."

The ruling also considers other forms of digital radio, including DRM, DMB and DVB-H. The decision to consider HD Radio specifically was based on the advanced stage of the HD Radio roll-out compared to other technologies in the United States. Canada has authorized Eureka-147 as a digital radio standard, but the rollout of that technology has not progressed very rapidly and is not seeing wide acceptance.

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