Digital Radio Update - November 22, 2006


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Stay up to date on the latest IBOC news, business and technology information with the twice-monthly newsletter from Radio magazine.


Index:

  • HD Radio Promos Make Top 10 Spot List
  • New DAB Specs add AAC Plus Coding
  • Swiss Radio Conference Will Address Digital Choice
  • DC is Hog Heaven for HD Multicasts
  • Sangean Sweetens the Pot for HD Receiver Promotions
  • Radioscape Shipping DRM/DAB Modules
  • Radio Shack Shatters HD Radio $100 Price Point…Briefly
  • IBOC by State: West Virginia
  • HD Percolating in the Popular Press
  • NPR Posts List of Recommended HD Radio Receivers
  • An Introduction to the New Language Surrounding HD Radio

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    News

    HD Radio Promos Make Top 10 Spot List
    Media Monitors, a broadcast spot tracking and verification firm, says that spots promoting HD Radio have jumped into the top 10 of spots heard nationally on radio during early November. According to the survey for Nov. 6 through Nov. 12, the HD Radio ad campaign, sponsored by the HD Digital Radio Alliance, placed eighth in terms of frequency of national spots. This placed the HD Radio ads just behind wireless carrier Verizon and in front of Kohl's deptartment stores. That number was down from a sixth place ranking the previous week and represents a total of 10,680 spots run nationally. According to Media Monitors, AC, Country and CHR formatted stations led the number of spots aired, respectively.

    The HD Radio Alliance's creative commercials are being run on alliance member stations and are designed to explain and position the content, consumer products and relative advantages of HD Radio. The current flight of spots is timed to raise consumer consciousness just as the holiday buying season begins.


    New DAB Specs add AAC Plus Coding
    World DMB, an international organization for the development and deployment of Eureka 147-based digital mobile broadcasting technologies, has released details of its plans to create optional audio coding for DAB. The organization has submitted a draft of technical specification tiled "Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB); Transport of AAC Audio" to the international standard body ETSI.

    World DMB-compatible receivers and broadcast services supporting the new standard may be introduced as early as 2007. A marketing task force has been set up to develop a consumer-friendly name for the effort.

    Eureka 147 currently uses MPEG Layer II to encode streams. By adding ACC as an optional algorithm, more stations can be broadcast on a given multiplex signal for more spectrum efficiency. It's expected that the change will also lower transmission costs for digital stations.

    New receivers with ACC will be backward compatible with the existing codec standard. Current MPEG Layer II services and consumers will be unaffected by the change.


    Swiss Radio Conference Will Address Digital Choice
    Telesuisse, an organization representing owners of privately held radio stations in Switzerland, will hold a day-long conference to discuss digital radio system options facing European broadcasters. The "Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Munich: Digital radio in Switzerland and Europe" conference is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 8 at the Hans Erni Museum in Lucerne, Switzerland. The purpose of the conference is to discuss where radio is headed in an increasingly fragmentary digital media landscape.

    Experts from both broadcast vendor system proponents and the consumer electronics industry will be on hand to discuss new DAB (Eureka 147) standards, DMB technology, DVB-h, DRM+ and HD Radio.

    There is a registration fee for Telesuisse members and non-members. More information on the conference is available from Maria Luisa Bernini at 41-79-441-4983.


    Business

    DC is Hog Heaven for HD Multicasts
    The nation's capital has become a bonanza for HD Radio-equipped radio listeners, as WAMU 88.5 and WHUR 96.3 have now joined 13 other Washington FM's in offering HD 2 multicasts.

    WAMU, licensed to American University and a test bed in the early phases of NPR's Tomorrow Radio Project, has added an HD 2 multicast originating from WTMD, a non-commecial Adult Album Alternative (AAA) station in Towson, MD. WAMU HD 2 will broadcast AAA music focused on rock, folk rock, country rock, modern rock, blues, folk and world music, back to Washington, D.C., for the first time since the late 1990s.

    WAMU describes the move as a "major effort in a new commitment to innovative collaborations within the national public radio system."

    Further up the dial, Howard University's WHUR has added "WHUR World " to its line-up on WHUR HD 2. Descibed as "a progressive mix of music and information," WHUR World is said to offer "an alternative multicast of programming that entertains, educates addresses social problems, and provides context for a mature adult listening audience."


    Sangean Sweetens the Pot for HD Receiver Promotions
    Sangean appears to be launching its new HDT-1 and HDR-1 of HD Radio receivers with broadcaster HD promotions in mind. A company communiqué said both products are now available with limited time mail-in rebates sponsored by Ibiquity Digital, as well as special edition models emblazoned with station logos and call letters.

    The company's HDT-1 component HD tuner is being offered at an MSRP of $199, while the HDR-1 tabletop HD receiver retails at about $249.00. A rebate of $25 for the HDT-1 and a $50 rebate for the HDR-1 are available until Jan. 14. A limited number of sample units are also being offered to broadcasters at below-wholesale costs.

    Broadcasters can find out more about this promotion by calling 888-Sangean.


    Radioscape Shipping DRM/DAB modules
    Radioscape is now shipping it RS500 module, which allows receiver manufacturers to provide a broad range of multi-standard functionality with the addition of a single package. RS 500 functionality will include DAB (Band-III and L-Band), DRM (LW, MW and SW), FM-RDS AM (LW, MW and SW) including AMSS, automatic alternative frequency switching (AFS), EPG (DAB), SDCARD Recording (DAB/DRM) and playback of MP3/WMA files. The first multi-standard radio to use RS500 technology, the Morphy Richards 27024, recently became available in Germany, France, Portugal, Spain, Holland, Belgium and the UK. Models from other manufacturers are expected to be available soon.


    Radio Shack Shatters HD Radio $100 Price Point…Briefly
    It appears that consumer electronics icon Radio Shack will be the first retailer to break the fabled $100 price point for a table top HD Radio receiver, at least for three days in late November.

    According to www.blackfriday.gottadeal.com, a website that serves as a clearinghouse for post -Thanksgiving weekend sales specials throughout the retail industry, Radio Shack will be offering its Accurian Tabletop HD Radio for the unheard of price of $99.99, after the Ibiqity-sponsored rebate.

    But there is a catch. Buyers who want to be a part of HD Radio price-point history will have to make their purchase Nov. 24 through Nov. 27. After that, the price will climb back up to a suggested retail of $179.99 after rebate.


    IBOC Across America

    IBOC by State: West Virginia
    Ibiquity has a list of stations that have licensed HD Radio technology. IBOC by state will look at various states and list the stations that are making the transition.

    Market Station Main Format Owner
    Charleston WKWS-FM 96.1 Country West Virginia Radio Corp.
    Morgantown-Clarksburg-Fairmont WVAQ-FM 101.9 CHR West Virginia Radio Corp.

    Eye on IBOC

    HD Percolating in the Popular Press
    Articles on HD Radio earlier this month demonstrate the pivotal role mainstream print media are playing in raising consumer consciousness of the technology, even as broadcasters themselves launch an on-air promotional blitz. And the press buzz has been good of late.

    Consider Cathy Lu's Nov. 13 article on HD Radio in Newsweek: "One benefit is better sound with less static. Stations can also stream artist and title info, so there's no more "What's that song?" But the biggest advantage is choice. Thanks to efficient digital compression, stations can multicast several audio streams on a single frequency, and listeners can flip among them."

    Or how about PC Magazine's Alan Safford, who said, "I like satellite radio, but I'm an even bigger fan of HD Radio, because I'm cheap. HD Radio's sound quality is as good as satellite's--and often better--and you don't have to pay a subscription fee to get it."

    And in my home-town daily, an article just a couple of weeks ago talked about all those new formats available...for free.

    Whether it's high profile national magazines or local radio/TV columnists, endorsements of HD Radio and multicasting are beginning to bridge a formidable gap in consumer awareness. Thanks to the inksters, HD Radio is benefiting from cross-media promotion that is helping a tuned-out public take a fresh look at radio.


    NPR Posts List of Recommended HD Radio Receivers
    Washington - Nov 21, 2006 - NPR Labs, the technical research group that supports the interests of public radio stations, has released its latest list of recommended HD Radio receivers. The most recent list has four models on it that "deliver first-rate technical performance and are easy to operate." The group also notes that these models "represent a good value and will please most consumers."

    The list, available at www.nprlabs.org/public/research/NPRLabsRecommendedHDRadiosNov2006.pdf, includes links to additional information about each unit, such as price, features and performance notes.

    The report includes a table of quick-reference items to compare reception quality, user interface and alarms. That info follows.

    ModelFM PerformanceAM PerformanceUser InterfaceAlarms
    Boston Acoustics Recepter HDexcellentacceptableexcellenttwo
    Radio Shack Accurianvery goodgoodgoodnone
    Kenwood KTC-HR100TRexcellentgoodvaries with head unitN/A
    JVC KD-HDR1very goodgoodgoodN/A

    HD Radio Terminology

    The Language Surrounding HD Radio
    transfer frame size: The number of bytes in a transfer frame.

    transmission subsystem: The functional component used to format and up-convert the baseband IBOC waveform for transmission through the very-high frequency (VHF) channel.




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