Digital Radio Update - May 20, 2009


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Index

  • MTG Tests DAB+ Waters in Sweden
  • Panama Adopts HD Radio as Digital Standard
  • Sirius Shares Terrestrial Pain in Q1
  • IBOC by State: Michigan
  • Sat Radio in Europe, Asia Getting Fresh Looks
  • The New Language of Digital Radio
  • Wi-fi Radio Offerings Beefing Up

  • News

    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.


    Panama Adopts HD Radio as Digital Standard
    The Republic of Panama has declared adoption of IBOC HD Radio as that nation's official digital radio standard effective immediately.

    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.


    Business

    Sirius/XM

    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.

    MarketStationHD1 FormatHD2 Format HD3 FormatOwner
    Ann ArborWEMU-FM 89.1Jazz/NewsAmericana-Eastern Michigan University
    Ann ArborWUOM-FM 91.7News/Talk/Info--University of Michigan
    DetroitWYCD-FM 99.5CountryThe WolfThe Psychic StudioCBS Radio
    DetroitWDMK-FM 105.9Urban AC--Radio One
    DetroitWCHB-AM 1200Talk/News--Radio One
    DetroitWKQI-FM 95.5Top 40New CHR-Clear Channel
    DetroitWNIC-FM 100.3ACCool-Clear Channel
    DetroitWDVD-FM 96.3Hot ACAlternative-Citadel
    DetroitWXYT-FM 97.1SportsRe-News-CBS Radio
    DetroitWWJ-AM 950News--CBS Radio
    DetroitWRIF-FM 101.1AORRIFF2-Greater Media
    DetroitWFDF-AM 910Family Hits--Radio Disney
    DetroitWRDT-AM 560Religion--Crawford Broadcasting Company
    DetroitWCSX-FM 94.7Classic RockDeep Trax-Greater Media
    DetroitWVMV-FM 98.7Smooth Jazz/NACTraditional Jazz-CBS Radio
    DetroitWOMC-FM 104.3OldiesHistory of Rock & Roll-CBS Radio
    DetroitWXYT-AM 1270Sports--CBS Radio
    DetroitWTWR-FM 98.3CHR--Cumulus Media
    DetroitWMGC-FM 105.1ACMore Magic-Greater Media
    DetroitWHTD-FM 102.7Urban--Radio One Inc.
    DetroitWJLB-FM 97.9UrbanClassic Hip Hop-Clear Channel
    DetroitWMXD-FM 92.3Urban ACHallelujah-Clear Channel
    DetroitWDTW-FM 106.7CountryMother Trucker-Clear Channel
    DetroitWDFN-AM 1130Sports--Clear Channel
    DetroitWEXL-AM 1340Gospel--Crawford Broadcasting Company
    DetroitWDRQ-FM 93.1Variety HitRhythmic Hits-Citadel
    DetroitWDET-FM 101.9NPR/NewsMusic Mix-Wayne State University
    DetroitWMUZ-FM 103.5Christian ContemporaryChristian Praise-Crawford Broadcasting Company
    FlintWDZZ-FM 92.7Urban AC--Cumulus Media
    FlintWCRZ-FM 107.9AC--Regent
    FlintWWBN-FM 101.5Rock--Regent
    FlintWFUM-FM 91.1News/Talk/Info--University of Michigan
    FlintWRCL-FM 93.7Urban--Regent
    Grand RapidsWGVU-FM 88.5Jazz--Grand Valley State University
    Grand RapidsWGVU-AM 1480News/Talk--Grand Valley State University
    Grand RapidsWFGR-FM 98.7Oldies--Regent
    Grand RapidsWMAX-FM 96.1AlternativeRadioRadio-Clear Channel
    Grand RapidsWLHT-FM 95.7ACWNWZ-AM Mexican-Regent
    Grand RapidsWTNR-FM 94.5Country--Citadel
    Grand RapidsWLAV-FM 96.9Classic Rock--Citadel
    Grand RapidsWBFX-FM 101.3Classic RockMusic Summit-Clear Channel
    Grand RapidsWTKG-AM 1230News/Talk--Clear Channel
    Grand RapidsWGRD-FM 97.9Modern Rock--Regent
    Grand RapidsWVGR-FM 104.1News/Talk/Info--University of Michigan
    Grand RapidsWHTS-FM 105.3Hot AC--Citadel
    Grand RapidsWTRV-FM 100.5 Soft AC--Regent
    Grand RapidsWOOD-FM 105.7ACSmooth Jazz-Clear Channel
    HartfordWCXT-FM 98.3Hot AC--Mid-West Family Broadcasters
    KalamazooWMUK-FM 102.1Classical--Western Michigan University
    Lansing-East LansingWDBM-FM 88.9AOR--Michigan State University
    Lansing-East LansingWLNZ-FM 89.7AAAOldies-Lansing Community College
    Lansing-East LansingWKAR-FM 90.5Classical/Folk/Jazz--Michigan State University
    Lansing-East LansingWKAR-AM 870News/Talk--Michigan State University
    Lansing-East LansingWITL-FM 100.7Country--Citadel
    MarquetteWNMU-FM 90.1Classical--Northern Michigan University
    Mt PleasantWMHW-FM 91.5AlternativeMetal/HipHop/Urban/Indie-Central Michigan University
    MuskegonWMRR-FM 101.7Classic RockBlues-Clear Channel
    MuskegonWSNX-FM 104.5CHRClub Phusion-Clear Channel
    MuskegonWMUS-FM 106.9CountryNew Country-Clear Channel
    MuskegonWSHZ-FM 107.9Bright ACGroove-Clear Channel
    St. JosephWIRX-FM 107.1Rock--Mid-West Family Broadcasters
    Traverse City-PetoskeyWLDR-FM 101.9CountrySmooth Jazz-The VineyardFox SportsHenderson

    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


    Products

    Vtech IS8191

    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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