Digital Radio Update - April 23, 2008


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NRSC Adopts Digital Radio Standards Update
The National Radio Systems Committee (NRSC) has announced adoption of NRSC-5-B, an updated version of the group's in-band/on-channel (IBOC) digital radio broadcasting standard. Updates to the document include editorial changes as well as revisions in the FM IBOC RF mask, based on data recently submitted by Ibiquity Digital. The announcement came at last week's NAB Show in Las Vegas.

Conspicuously absent in the new document is information regarding a pending industry proposal to boost the digital signal level of HD Radio hybrid signals from current levels, specified at 20dB below analog carrier power, to a maximum level of just 10dB below analog power. According to a statement made by a key NRSC digital committee member in late January, that proposal has yet to be brought before the committee.

The document will be made available to the public through the NRSC's website pending a final procedural review.

The Digital Radio Broadcasting (DRB) Subcommittee is co-chaired by Andy Laird, vice president and chief technology officer, Journal Broadcast Group; and Mike Bergman, director of research and development, Digital Broadcast, Kenwood Americas Corporation.


NAB 2008 Showcases HD Products, Trends
Last week's NAB Show in Las Vegas bore witness to the fact that both broadcast and consumer HD Radio products are popping up among many product lines, at least on the supply side. In fact, visitors to Ibiquity Digital's booth found themselves surrounded by a veritable menagerie of HD Radio receivers, laying to rest any remaining doubt that the consumer electronics industry has embraced digital radio technology.

On the broadcast end, a number of transmission equipment manufacturers sported new, lower-cost embedded Exporter equipment, developed as part of a unique partnership with the NAB. And companies like BE and Nautel went out of their way to introduce new transmitter technology that directly addresses broadcaster interest in a possible boost of digital signal levels through the application of advanced algorithms that reduce peak power requirements, thus improving digital transmitter efficiency.

New professional HD Radio monitoring technology was available as well, as evidenced by Audio Science's introduction of a new PCI computer card containing no less than four independent HD Radio receivers. This type of technology is essential for media monitoring services that with a need to capture the full spectrum of programming digital multicasters will offer.

Finally, there was buzz in the aisles about how best to provision multicast content, as Google debuted its latest program automation services and word spread that CBS intends to stream all of its multicast content on the Internet in the very near future.

But perhaps the most notable attribute of the HD Radio technology deployed across the exhibit halls at this year's NAB was that it was unremarkable as a whole. That says a lot about how, at least for major radio group broadcasters, HD Radio is quickly shifting from novelty status to becoming an accepted and everyday fact of life.


Business

Embedded Exporters Debut at 2008 NAB Show
Last week the NAB chose its 2008 convention as a backdrop to announce what it touts as an unprecedented partnership with Ibiquity Digital and four broadcast equipment makers to provide next-generation HD Radio Exporter technology for broadcasters. HD Radio broadcasters use Exporters to combine multicast audio channels and data services along with a station's main audio channel into a format suitable for transmission.

Both NAB and HD technology developer Ibiquity reportedly worked directly with the manufacturers to accelerate the development and implementation of the next-generation technology known as Embedded Exporter. The new products, designed to reduce overall HD Radio upgrade expenses for radio stations, were on display at the booths of the respective equipment manufacturers, comprised of Broadcast Electronics, Continental, Harris and Nautel.

The NAB says the project began in 2006, under the auspices of its HD Radio Technology Advancement Task Force. Because the NAB contributed to the development effort, NAB member stations are eligible additional discounts on new embedded Exporter products.


IBOC ACROSS AMERICA

IBOC by State: North Carolina
Ibiquity has a list of stations with licensed HD Radio technology and notes those on the air now. IBOC by state looks at various states and lists the stations making the transition. There are 51 stations in the Tar Heel State broadcasting 77 HD Radio channels.

MarketStationHD1 FormatHD2 FormatHD3 FormatOwner
AlbemarleWPZS-FM 100.9Gospel--Radio One
AshevilleWOXL-FM 96.5Classic Hits--Saga
AshevilleWQNQ-FM 104.3Hot AC--Clear Channel Radio
AshevilleWQNS-FM 104.9Classic Rock--Clear Channel Radio
AshevilleWTMT-FM 105.9Country--Saga
AshevilleWMIT-FM 106.9ReligionChristian Hits - The Edge-Blue Ridge Broadcasting
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SCWDAV-FM 89.9Classical--Davidson College
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SCWFAE-FM 90.7News/Talk/InfoExponential RadioBBCUniversity Radio Foundation
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SCWQNC-FM 92.7Urban AC--Radio One
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SCWIBT-FM 96.1CHR/Rhythm/Hip HopVIVA - Spanish Variety-Clear Channel Radio
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SCWKKT-FM 96.9CountryClassic Country-Clear Channel Radio
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SCWPEG-FM 97.9Urban/Hip HopClassic Hip-Hop-CBS Radio
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SCWBT-FM 99.3News/Talk--Lincoln Financial Media
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SCWRFX-FM 99.7Classic RockVinyl Vineyard-Clear Channel Radio
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SCWBAV-FM 101.9Urban ACContemporary Jazz-CBS Radio
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SCWLYT-FM 102.9Lite ACHot AC-Clear Channel Radio
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SCWKQC-FM 104.7Christian Contemporary60's and 70's Hits-CBS Radio
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SCWEND-FM 106.5AlternativeComedy-Clear Channel Radio
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SCWLNK-FM 107.9Talk/AC--Lincoln Financial Media
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SCWFNZ-AM 610Sports/Talk--CBS Radio
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SCWHVN-AM 1240Religion--GHB Broadcasting
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SCWCGC-AM 1270Christian--GHB Broadcasting
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SCWGSP-AM 1310Mexican--Norsan Broadcasting
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SCWEGO-AM 1410Classic Hits--GHB Broadcasting
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SCWFNA-AM 1660Sports/Talk--CBS Radio
FayettevilleWZFX-FM 99.1Hip HopMusic-Beasley Broadcast Group
Greensboro-Winston Salem-High PointWFDD-FM 88.5NPR/ClassicalClassicalRoots - Folk, World MusicWake Forest University
Greensboro-Winston Salem-High PointWPAW-FM 93.1CountryOldies-Entercom Communications
Greensboro-Winston Salem-High PointWGBT-FM 94.5Spanish ACFuerza-Clear Channel Radio
Greensboro-Winston Salem-High PointWQMG-FM 97.1Urban ACUrban - Gospel-Entercom Communications
Greensboro-Winston Salem-High PointWSMW-FM 98.7VarietyDeep Tracks-Entercom Communications
Greensboro-Winston Salem-High PointWMAG-FM 99.5EasySmooth Jazz-Clear Channel Radio
Greensboro-Winston Salem-High PointWVBZ-FM 100.3RockThe Buzzard Basement-Clear Channel Radio
Greensboro-Winston Salem-High PointWJMH-FM 102.1UrbanUrban - Old School Hip Hop-Entercom Communications
Greensboro-Winston Salem-High PointWTQR-FM 104.1CountryTQR Classic Country-Clear Channel Radio
Greensboro-Winston Salem-High PointWMKS-FM 105.7Urban ACKiss 2 Funk-Clear Channel Radio
Greenville-New Bern-JacksonvilleWMGV-FM 103.3Soft Rock--Beasley Broadcast Group
Greenville-New Bern-JacksonvilleWSFL-FM 106.5Classic Rock--Beasley Broadcast Group
Greenville-New Bern-JacksonvilleWNCT-AM 1070Contemporary Christian--Beasley Broadcast Group
HickoryWFHE-FM 90.3News/Talk/Info--University Radio Foundation
Raleigh-DurhamWSHA-FM 88.9Jazz--Shaw University
Raleigh-DurhamWNCU-FM 90.7Jazz--North Carolina Central University
Raleigh-DurhamWUNC-FM 91.5News/Talk/Info--University of North Carolina
Raleigh-DurhamWCMC-FM 99.9CountryContemporary Christian/Positive Country-Capitol Broadcasting Company
Raleigh-DurhamWRVA-FM 100.7OldiesIndependent Underground-Clear Channel Radio
Raleigh-DurhamWRAL-FM 101.5ACAdult Alternative-Capitol Broadcasting Company
Raleigh-DurhamWNNL-FM 103.9Urban/Inspirational--Radio One
Raleigh-DurhamWFXK-FM 104.3Urban AC--Radio One
Raleigh-DurhamWFXC-FM 107.1Urban AC--Radio One
Rocky Mount-WilsonWRQM-FM 90.9News/Talk/Info--University of North Carolina
SpindaleWNCW-FM 88.7AAA--Isothermal Community College

EYE ON IBOC

World Space Wins L-Band Approval in Germany
World Space Europe says Germany's Federal Network Agency, the Bundesnetzagentur, has approved the use of L-band (1479.5 - 1492MHz) spectrum on a nationwide basis for the operation of a hybrid satellite/terrestrial repeater network in Germany. The move comes on the heels of a similar announcement in Switzerland just weeks ago, and is part of a greater initiative by the satellite radio provider to provide subscription-based satellite radio service across a number of EU nations, including Italy, Switzerland and France.

According to a press release, the company expects to launch its German satellite radio service shortly after initiating European service in Italy next year. The company also says it expects France to license operation in that country later this year.

World Space is said to be still actively courting investors in the project.


HD RADIO TERMINOLOGY

The New Language of Digital Radio
embedded exporter: The HD Radio Exporter encodes main program service (MPS) audio, accepts program-associated data (PAD) or program service data (PSD) for the main-channel audio and coded secondary program service (SPS) audio and Advanced Application Service (AAS) data from an Importer. First versions of the Exporter were rack-mount PCs. The embedded Exporter provides the same function in a smaller package with dedicated DSP and solid-state memory to improve reliability and reduce manufacturing costs.

importer: A device that accepts multiple program feeds (SPS) and the program-associated data (PAD) for those audio streams to be transmitted with the main program service (MPS). The Importer feeds the Exporter.


PRODUCTS

HD Radio Field Guide Now in Print
Focal Press has begun shipping copies of Tom Ray's new handbook on upgrading radio facilities for HD Radio operations. Titled HD Radio Implementation: The Field Guide for Facility Conversion, the book provides guidance and practical tips for implementing both AM and FM HD Radio technology at the studio, STL and transmitter plant levels.

Ray, who currently serves as VP of engineering for Buckley Broadcasting, as well as on numerous industry boards and committees, drew heavily on his actual experience in converting a number of that group's stations to HD Radio, including NYC flagship WOR-AM.

According to one published synopsis, the work not only provides a practical conversion road map for engineers, but also addresses managers and programmers in explaining the functionality of HD Radio technology and how it impacts day-to-day operations around the radio station.


Toyota Adds HD Option to Scion Line
Toyota's Scion division says it will make HD Radio technology available across its model lines sometime in the near future. According to a company press release, HD functionality will be made available with upper tier audio packages, as opposed to standard equipment.

"Since Scion customers are in tune with audio technology, it makes sense that we enhance our already outstanding audio offerings for them," said Jason Adang, accessory audio and electronics planning manager, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.

Scion joins foreign carmakers Volvo, Mini, Hyundai, BMW and Mercedes as an available factory option. American automaker Ford plans to offer factory HD Radio receivers in most of its 2009 Ford, Mercury and Lincoln products in 2009.




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