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Digital Radio Update - July 19, 2006
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Continental Electronics' Mina Named Chairman of USA DRM
Dallas - Jul 17, 2006 - Adil Mina, vice president of business development for Continental Electronics, has been named chairman of the USA Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) Group. Founded in May 2004, the USA DRM Group is an organization of broadcasters and manufacturers who joined forces to promote the introduction of DRM in the United States.
The previous chairman of DRM USA was Jeff White, who stepped down to become president of the National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters (NASB).
Mina began his career with Continental Electronics in 1966. His experience includes design engineer, installation supervisor, project engineer and program manager on transmitter products up to 2MW. He was responsible for the design and development of the Continental Electronics 500kW high-frequency transmitter and the high-efficiency solid-state modulator, which is found in installations around the world.
FCC Back Flips on IBOC Rulemaking
The FCC unexpectedly struck a number of items relating to digital radio broadcasting from its July 13 agenda just hours before convening last week. Scheduled for consideration were a Second Report and Order, a First Order of Reconsideration and a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding in band, on channel digital radio broadcasting.
The surprise move came as a disappointment for hundreds of stations currently operating HD Radio hybrid signals under a patchwork of STAs and notifications. Some AM broadcasters already equipped with HD Radio transmission systems have held off on transmitting their digital signals altogether until the Commission establishes a clear line on the contentious issue of nighttime interference to adjacent channel secondary coverage areas.
Although no official explanation for deleting digital radio from the agenda was offered at the meeting, at least one radio trade publication claims that documents the Commissioners were to approve were incomplete. No word yet on how soon before the FCC revisits the rulemaking.
JVC Makes Waves in Auto Aftermarket
JVC and national retailer Crutchfield are raising industry eyebrows with a special rebate offer on JVC's KD-HDR1 in-dash CD/MP3/WMA player with HD Radio tuner. At just $160 after the rebate, the in-dash after-market unit is the first automotive receiver to move into a competitive price range well below the previous $200 benchmark.
According to the Crutchfield website, the KD-HDR1 offers AM/FM HD Radio multicast and SRS surround sound decoders in addition to the usual CD/MP3/WMA player features. Nine user reviews of the product posted on the Crutchfield site were generally upbeat. Currently, the HDRadio.com website lists available aftermarket HD Radio auto receivers from Kenwood and Sanyo, as well as JVC.
Tivoli, Polk, Radiosophy Tabletops Due Soon
Tivoli Audio will join the burgeoning HD Radio tabletop receiver market with its Model HD receiver, due to ship late this fall. The company says the Model HD incorporates the latest generation HD Radio chipset, and builds on the legacy of its popular Kloss Model One.
Meanwhile, Polk Audio and Radiosophy continue to promise shipment of their respective HD Radio tabletop receivers in the immediate future. Radiosophy now says it may ship its first product in about four weeks.
Worldspace Inks Deal for Terrestrial Repeaters in Europe
Worldspace Satellite Radio has formed a partnership with Sodielec, a French company specializing in digital transmission systems, to develop terrestrial repeater prototypes. These prototypes will enable expansion of Worldspace's satellite radio and data services to automobiles across Western Europe, beginning in Italy.
The contract includes prototype design and development as well as guaranteed pricing for large-scale production of at least one model. Worldspace expects to complete prototype evaluation this fall, with production and deployment slated for 2007.
In May of this year, Worldspace Italia, a majority-owned subsidiary of Worldspace's European holding company Viatis Satellite Radio, received approval from the Italian Ministry of Communications to launch a subscription satellite radio service in Italy, using 1,479.5MHz to 1,492MHz for operation of the corresponding hybrid satellite/terrestrial network. The move marks Italy as Western Europe's first market to receive government approval for subscription-based satellite radio and data services.
HD3 Signals popping up in Minneapolis
According to a recent report in Billboard Magazine, two radio stations in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market, Clear Channels's KTLK and Minnesota Public Radio's KSJN are now independently programming their HD3 digital channels with talk radio. In an interesting preview of what broadcasters around the country might do with lower bit-rate third digital channels, KTLK HD3 is airing programming from Clear Channel sports talk KFAN-AM, while KSJN-FM is carrying a news talk signal from NPR sister station KNOW-FM. KSJN currently carries a public radio classical format while Clear Channel programs FM news/talk on KTLK.
In an effort to maximize the program capacity of their FM HD Radio hybrid signals, many broadcasters are considering a similar configuration, typically with HD1 and HD2 signals carrying music formats at 40kb/s or more, while a third HD Radio channel operates with less sonically demanding talk programming at about 9kb/s.
Billboard carried a complete survey of HD Radio programming in the Twin Cities, which was actually monitored between July 12 and July 14 using a Boston Acoustics Recepter radio. The article can be viewed at this link.
IBOC Across America
|Market||Station||Main Format||HD2 Format||HD3 Format||Owner|
|Bridgeport||WEZN-FM 99.9||AC||-||-||Cox Radio|
|Danbury||WDBY-FM 105.5||Hot AC||-||-||Cumulus Broadcasting|
|Hartford-New Britain-Middletown||WCCC-FM 106.9||Rock||-||-||Marlin Broadcasting|
|Hartford-New Britain-Middletown||WDRC-FM 102.9||Clsc Hits||-||-||Buckley Broadcasting|
|Hartford-New Britain-Middletown||WHCN-FM 105.9||ClHts/RckAC||Deep Tracks and Live Rock||-||Clear Channel Radio|
|Hartford-New Britain-Middletown||WKSS-FM 95.7||Top 40||Pride (Gay)||-||Clear Channel Radio|
|Hartford-New Britain-Middletown||WPHH-FM 104.1||HpHop/RhyBl||Classic Hip-Hop||-||Clear Channel Radio|
|Hartford-New Britain-Middletown||WTIC-FM 96.5||Modern AC||News Talk Sports||-||CBS Radio|
|Hartford-New Britain-Middletown||WTMI-AM 1290||Classical||-||-||Marlin Broadcasting|
|Hartford-New Britain-Middletown||WWYZ-FM 92.5||Country||Classic Country||-||Clear Channel Radio|
|Hartford-New Britain-Middletown||WZMX-FM 93.7||Hip Hop||Hispanic Raggeton||-||CBS Radio|
|New Haven||WKCI-FM 101.3||CHR/Top40||-||-||Clear Channel Radio|
|New Haven||WPLR-FM 99.1||AOR||-||-||Cox Radio|
|New London||WQGN-FM 105.5||CHR||-||-||Citadel|
|Stamford-Norwalk||WEBE-FM 107.9||AC||-||-||Cumulus Broadcasting|
Eye on IBOC
BBC Gets Personal
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) wants to allow audiences to create personal radio stations from its entire portfolio of available radio content. The planned service, tentatively labeled My BBC Radio, was introduced by BBC Director General Mark Thompson at the Radio Festival in Cambridge, England earlier this month.
The new service allows audiences more control by combining existing services, such as podcasts and the BBC Radio Player (part of BBC's Iplayer), a free service that will also offer seven days of BBC TV on demand.
Thompson said My BBC Radio would use peer-to-peer technology to provide "thousands, ultimately millions, of individual radio services created by audiences themselves."
The personalized radio scheme is expected to build on the success of the BBC's online radio services. In March, the corporation said people had consumed about 20 million hours of BBC content online, using everything from live streams to downloaded programs. And in May, audiences downloaded 4.5 million podcasts from the government funded corporation.
Interestingly, private sector broadcasters in the UK have lately taken to grumbling over growth in newer BBC services such as DAB and podcasting. Private ownership of radio broadcasting is still relatively young in the UK, and when it began to catch hold in the 70s, many pundits predicted the beginning of the end for the venerable "Auntie Beebe." But the corporation appears to be at least holding its own by aggressively focusing on improving programming and delivery technology.
Radio Globo Expands HD Radio in Brazil
Radio Globo, a Latin American broadcast group, has chosen to expand its use of the Harris 3DX family of products for high-power AM transmission in Brazil. The transmitters, destined for sites in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, will also be outfitted with Harris Dexstar exciters to permit future HD Radio broadcasting. Radio Globo currently has a 3DX-50 transmitter at its Belo Horizonte site that has broadcasting analog and HD Radio signals since September 2005.
Radio Globo plans to install 3DX D-200 transmitters at Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The company also owns an additional 3DX-50 AM transmitter, originally installed at Radio Tiradentes in Belo Horizonte.
"Radio Globo's leadership and commitment to HD Radio is an excellent sign for the future of digital radio not only in Brazil, but throughout Latin America," said Nahuel Villegas, Harris Broadcast Communications Division's regional director of sales for Latin America and the Caribbean.
HD Radio Terminology
fading: The variation (with time) of the amplitude or relative phase (or both) of one or more frequency components of a received signal.
OFDM subcarrier mapping: The function that assigns the interleaved logical channels (interleaver partitions) to the OFDM subcarriers (frequency partitions).
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