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Digital Radio Update - May 20, 2009
MTG Tests DAB+ Waters in Sweden
Modern Times Group (MTG), an international media firm with radio and TV holdings, along with project partners SR and SBS Radio, began on-air testing of a DAB+ multiplex in Stockholm and two other locations in Sweden last week. Teracom, a broadcast service company owned by the Swedish government is reportedly providing technical management of the project.
With several commercial stations currently populating their multiplex, MTG says the purpose of the test is to get some real world feedback from about 100 beta-testers of the technology. Although the partners are interested in the potential of DAB+, spokespersons have suggested that a full scale commitment to the technology would require concessions from the Swedish government, such as doubling license periods from four years to eight years, along with subsidies to ease the economic strain of the digital/analog transition period.
In an article in Dagans Media, MTG Program Director Christer Modig is quoted as saying that improvements in 3G streaming delivery make it a viable alternative to adoption of DAB+, and that it's now or never for adopting a dedicated digital broadcast standard.
In an official decree, the government noted it selected IBOC technology after the country's Digital Broadcasting Technical Commission reviewed IBOC, DAB, and DRM.
According to pressreference.com, Panama has about 235 AM/FM radio stations nationally, a number of which are low power community FM outlets. The number of radio receivers in that county is estimated to total about 815,000.
The Panamanian government also announced it has selected DVB-T as the nation's new DTV standard.
Sirius Shares Terrestrial Pain in Q1
The steady upward momentum of satellite radio's subscription curve, touted by many as evidence of a rare digital radio success story, has fallen victim to flagging economic conditions, says a May 8 Wall Street Journal report. For the first time in the history of the U.S. SDARS rollout, the number of new service subscribers in the first quarter of 2009 fell about 400,000 short of the number of sub cancellations for the same period, leaving Sirius/XM with a total of 18.6 million paying customers on April 1.
Abysmal new car sales numbers are blamed for the loss.
The news is cold comfort to U.S. terrestrial broadcasters, many of whom are also bleeding red ink as they curtail spending on further digital conversions and other facility upgrades.
The current total subscriber number for Sirius/XM is significant. The stall comes below the 20 million mark, long held as a benchmark level for achieving real profitability.
Sirius/XM officials cited in the WSJ article indicate that their company expects at least one more down quarter as Chrysler and GM negotiate bankruptcy.
IBOC Across America
IBOC by State: Michigan
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 62 stations in the Wolverine State broadcasting 92 HD Radio channels.
|Market||Station||HD1 Format||HD2 Format||HD3 Format||Owner|
|Ann Arbor||WEMU-FM 89.1||Jazz/News||Americana||-||Eastern Michigan University|
|Ann Arbor||WUOM-FM 91.7||News/Talk/Info||-||-||University of Michigan|
|Detroit||WYCD-FM 99.5||Country||The Wolf||The Psychic Studio||CBS Radio|
|Detroit||WDMK-FM 105.9||Urban AC||-||-||Radio One|
|Detroit||WCHB-AM 1200||Talk/News||-||-||Radio One|
|Detroit||WKQI-FM 95.5||Top 40||New CHR||-||Clear Channel|
|Detroit||WNIC-FM 100.3||AC||Cool||-||Clear Channel|
|Detroit||WDVD-FM 96.3||Hot AC||Alternative||-||Citadel|
|Detroit||WXYT-FM 97.1||Sports||Re-News||-||CBS Radio|
|Detroit||WWJ-AM 950||News||-||-||CBS Radio|
|Detroit||WRIF-FM 101.1||AOR||RIFF2||-||Greater Media|
|Detroit||WFDF-AM 910||Family Hits||-||-||Radio Disney|
|Detroit||WRDT-AM 560||Religion||-||-||Crawford Broadcasting Company|
|Detroit||WCSX-FM 94.7||Classic Rock||Deep Trax||-||Greater Media|
|Detroit||WVMV-FM 98.7||Smooth Jazz/NAC||Traditional Jazz||-||CBS Radio|
|Detroit||WOMC-FM 104.3||Oldies||History of Rock & Roll||-||CBS Radio|
|Detroit||WXYT-AM 1270||Sports||-||-||CBS Radio|
|Detroit||WTWR-FM 98.3||CHR||-||-||Cumulus Media|
|Detroit||WMGC-FM 105.1||AC||More Magic||-||Greater Media|
|Detroit||WHTD-FM 102.7||Urban||-||-||Radio One Inc.|
|Detroit||WJLB-FM 97.9||Urban||Classic Hip Hop||-||Clear Channel|
|Detroit||WMXD-FM 92.3||Urban AC||Hallelujah||-||Clear Channel|
|Detroit||WDTW-FM 106.7||Country||Mother Trucker||-||Clear Channel|
|Detroit||WDFN-AM 1130||Sports||-||-||Clear Channel|
|Detroit||WEXL-AM 1340||Gospel||-||-||Crawford Broadcasting Company|
|Detroit||WDRQ-FM 93.1||Variety Hit||Rhythmic Hits||-||Citadel|
|Detroit||WDET-FM 101.9||NPR/News||Music Mix||-||Wayne State University|
|Detroit||WMUZ-FM 103.5||Christian Contemporary||Christian Praise||-||Crawford Broadcasting Company|
|Flint||WDZZ-FM 92.7||Urban AC||-||-||Cumulus Media|
|Flint||WFUM-FM 91.1||News/Talk/Info||-||-||University of Michigan|
|Grand Rapids||WGVU-FM 88.5||Jazz||-||-||Grand Valley State University|
|Grand Rapids||WGVU-AM 1480||News/Talk||-||-||Grand Valley State University|
|Grand Rapids||WFGR-FM 98.7||Oldies||-||-||Regent|
|Grand Rapids||WMAX-FM 96.1||Alternative||RadioRadio||-||Clear Channel|
|Grand Rapids||WLHT-FM 95.7||AC||WNWZ-AM Mexican||-||Regent|
|Grand Rapids||WTNR-FM 94.5||Country||-||-||Citadel|
|Grand Rapids||WLAV-FM 96.9||Classic Rock||-||-||Citadel|
|Grand Rapids||WBFX-FM 101.3||Classic Rock||Music Summit||-||Clear Channel|
|Grand Rapids||WTKG-AM 1230||News/Talk||-||-||Clear Channel|
|Grand Rapids||WGRD-FM 97.9||Modern Rock||-||-||Regent|
|Grand Rapids||WVGR-FM 104.1||News/Talk/Info||-||-||University of Michigan|
|Grand Rapids||WHTS-FM 105.3||Hot AC||-||-||Citadel|
|Grand Rapids||WTRV-FM 100.5||Soft AC||-||-||Regent|
|Grand Rapids||WOOD-FM 105.7||AC||Smooth Jazz||-||Clear Channel|
|Hartford||WCXT-FM 98.3||Hot AC||-||-||Mid-West Family Broadcasters|
|Kalamazoo||WMUK-FM 102.1||Classical||-||-||Western Michigan University|
|Lansing-East Lansing||WDBM-FM 88.9||AOR||-||-||Michigan State University|
|Lansing-East Lansing||WLNZ-FM 89.7||AAA||Oldies||-||Lansing Community College|
|Lansing-East Lansing||WKAR-FM 90.5||Classical/Folk/Jazz||-||-||Michigan State University|
|Lansing-East Lansing||WKAR-AM 870||News/Talk||-||-||Michigan State University|
|Lansing-East Lansing||WITL-FM 100.7||Country||-||-||Citadel|
|Marquette||WNMU-FM 90.1||Classical||-||-||Northern Michigan University|
|Mt Pleasant||WMHW-FM 91.5||Alternative||Metal/HipHop/Urban/Indie||-||Central Michigan University|
|Muskegon||WMRR-FM 101.7||Classic Rock||Blues||-||Clear Channel|
|Muskegon||WSNX-FM 104.5||CHR||Club Phusion||-||Clear Channel|
|Muskegon||WMUS-FM 106.9||Country||New Country||-||Clear Channel|
|Muskegon||WSHZ-FM 107.9||Bright AC||Groove||-||Clear Channel|
|St. Joseph||WIRX-FM 107.1||Rock||-||-||Mid-West Family Broadcasters|
|Traverse City-Petoskey||WLDR-FM 101.9||Country||Smooth Jazz-The Vineyard||Fox Sports||Henderson|
Eye on IBOC
Sat Radio in Europe, Asia Getting Fresh Looks
Only a few months ago, the epic bankruptcy of Worldspace Satellite radio made the chance for a viable service in Europe and southern Asia seem remote, particularly in a chilly global economy. Yet recent reports from both continents suggest there may be some green shoots coming up in the sat radio ash heap.
Ondas Media, a Madrid-based start-up headed by satellite veteran David Krueger recently announced it has reached an agreement with French automaker Renault for inclusion of OEM receivers for a new cross-European sat radio service his company aims to launch in 2011. The company claims it has similar deals with BMW and Nissan.
Ondas isn't exactly a household name on the sat radio scene. That's because the company has yet to obtain spectrum OKs for the proposed service. But CEO Krueger notes that his firm participated in drawing up standards for the service in 2007, and now has development agreements with Delphi and Fraunhofer for receivers as well as Loral for orbital platforms. Plans currently call for the new service to operate in L band, as do satellite radio services in North America.
Meanwhile, the old Monty Python punch line "I'm not dead yet" has seemingly become the mantra for a reconstituted version of the recently defunct Worldspace. Pieced together from bankruptcy court-auctioned assets and led by its former CEO Noah Samara, the new firm looks to leverage the former firm's penetration in India into a new pan-India private satellite/terrestrial radio service. Since that goal will require government spectrum allotments that carry domestic ownership mandates, it's unclear how the U.S.-based firm intends to accomplish its mission. But the fact that India's economy continues to expand even as most of the world contracts may offer Samara hope that the new World Space can find a willing Indian partner that will bring both national identity and cash to the table.
HD Radio Terminology
The New Language of Digital Radio
MPS: Main Program Service
MPSA: Main Program Service Audio
MPSD: Main Program Service Data
MS1-MS4: FM IBOC secondary service modes 1 through 4
mV/m: millivolts per meter
NIF: nighttime interference-free (contour)
NOP: number of packets
Wi-fi Radio Offerings Beefing Up
With more and more Internet radio products finding their way to market, a new entry suggests that the trend may now be shifting from portability to audio quality and utility. VTech's model IS9181 Wi-fi Internet radio offers users audio with a punch, via 3W stereo speakers and a 10W subwoofer, a departure from more typically diminutive Internet radio platforms.
Among the IS9181's other interesting features are stereo analog line in/out, a built-in Internet radio tuner (though VTech's host gateway) along with codec compatibility for MP3, WMA, AAC and Real Audio. The system will also allow wireless connection directly to a user's Windows XP/Vista PC or OS 10.4/10.5 Mac for remote play of audio media. More traditional accoutrements, such as FM analog reception, remote control and clock radio functionality are included as well.
Price point on the IS9181 is expected to be $199 MSRP.
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