Digital Radio Update - July 9, 2008


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News

Mexico Green-Lights HD IBOC Within Border Region
Mexican AM and FM radio stations operating within 320 kilometers (200 miles) of the US/Mexican border can now request authority to commence IBOC HD Radio transmission, according to that country's state telecommunications authority, Cofetel.

The regulatory agency gave its OK in an official statement issued last month, noting it would permit HD Radio operation so stations in the 200 mile border zone can transmit at the same technological level as U.S. stations. It went on to state that stations wishing to transmit hybrid IBOC digital signals must first request specific authorization from Cofetel and also must commit to assisting the agency as it assesses outcomes of the technology's rollout.


HD Radio Alliance Initiates Upgrade Marketing Push
Declaring the battle to achieve widespread public awareness of HD Radio as largely won, the HD Radio Alliance says it's now time to focus the next phase of its marketing campaign on encouraging American consumers to upgrade their listening experience by purchasing HD Radio-ready radios. To that end, the Alliance's latest initiative involves a new $57 million, 13-week marketing campaign scheduled to run on over 700 stations in 100 markets.

Many of the new ads will invite consumers to text message the word upgrade to 34343 in an attempt to establish an immediate link with consumers who may hear the spots while driving. Respondents will receive information on HD Radio receivers, retailers and vehicles providing HD Radio and also have a chance to opt in to win one of 200 HD Radio receivers and receive future updates about HD Radio. Other information available via cell phone within the mobile texting initiative include HD and HD2 station guides, an Itunes tagging tutorial, HD Radio receiver rebates and the opportunity to participate in interactive polls.

The balance of the current campaign will be aimed at building more traffic on HDRadio.com, the Alliance's recently redesigned website. New site features are said to include instant station directory and easier-to-read buyers' guides. The site currently receives about 2,700 unique visitors per day, according to Jamie Allen, chief operating officer at Texas Creative, which built and maintains the site for the HD Radio Alliance.


Business

Working Group Issues Interim Report on UK DAB Policy
The UK's Digital Radio Working Group (DRWG), a joint industry-government task force charged with study and policy development for digital radio, has tendered its scheduled interim report on the continuing rollout of DAB technology in Great Britain.

After a studying analog radio's current status and DAB's domestic and international progress to date, the group's latest report delivers a number of general conclusions regarding future regulatory policy.

  • DAB is the most appropriate replacement for analog radio in the UK.
  • While the bulk of radio service should migrate to DAB, analog FM service, economics and spectrum issues may dictate the preservation of FM service for use by small local and community radio stations.
  • MW AM operations should be migrated to DAB on a timely basis, while further consideration is given to accommodating existing LW AM services.
  • In order to harmonize European DAB rollouts, receiver manufacturers should furnish platforms fully compatible with both FM and the entire family of Eureka 147 transmission technologies, including DAB and DAB+, but that current MPEG layer 2 technology should continue as the standard for UK deployments.

More specifically, DRWG calls for government to establish a criteria-driven timetable for the migration of existing analog radio services to digital. The report also indicates that since complete coast-to-coast digital multiplex coverage may not be economically feasible for many years, the government would need to be flexible with analog spectrum allocations to ensure the preservation of service in more isolated rural areas.

While shying away from recommending firm dates for completing service transitions, the group suggested that industry and government alike embrace an aspiration to meet all transition criteria between 2012 and 2015 with migration completed by 2020.

Constituents of the DRWG include representatives from BBC Radio Centre; 4 Digital Group; Digital One; Arqiva; Community Media Association; Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders; Consumer Expert Group; Intellect; Office of Communications; Department for Culture, Media and Sport Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.


IBOC Across America

IBOC by State: South Dakota
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 five stations in the Mount Rushmore State broadcasting five HD Radio channels.

MarketStationHD1 FormatHD2 FormatOwner
Rapid CityKBHE-FM 89.3Classical/News/Jazz-South Dakota Board of Directors for Educational Telecomm
RelianceKTSD-FM 91.1Classical/News/Jazz -South Dakota Board of Directors for Educational Telecomm
Sioux FallsKRSD-FM 88.1Classical/News-Minnesota Public Radio
Sioux FallsKCSD-FM 90.9Classical-South Dakota Board of Directors for Educational Telecomm
VermillionKUSD-FM 89.7Classical-South Dakota Board of Directors for Educational Telecomm

Eye on IBOC

Royalty Seekers Zoom in on HD Multicasters
The summer of 2008 looks to be another hot one for broadcasters rolling out multicast HD formats, as the battle over royalty fees on digitally delivered content opens up on yet another front.

Already tapped for Internet stream performance rights, broadcasters are fighting a Congressionally sponsored effort to impose additional performance royalty fees for airplay of copyrighted music. The Performance Rights Act (which just passed out of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property) poses an even greater economic burden to HD Radio multicasters, who would have to pay royalties on every song broadcast, even as their multicast channels generate little or no revenue.

But an already tough economic scene for HD Radio broadcasters could get tougher still, as the Radio Music Licensing Committee (RLMC) engages in its latest round of negotiations with rights holder organizations over musical works royalties. Among the issues on the table is a new ASCAP demand for additional licensing payments based on airplay of music on HD multicast channels. A particularly contentious point occurred when ASCAP negotiators introduced a study projecting sales of 30 million HD Radio receivers by 2012, a figure predicated on a trend line that has receiver sales topping the 4 million mark by years end. Needless to say, broadcast blogs are crying foul over that study's credibility, as even HD Radio's biggest boosters are estimating that the actual number of 2008 HD Radio receiver sales is unlikely to exceed 25 percent of the ASCAP's cited claims.

Whatever the outcome, one thing is certain. Even as broadcasters try to figure out how to turn a buck on their HD Radio investment, the music industry is bound to continue in its quest for new ways to snatch it.


HD Radio Terminology

The New Language of Digital Radio
differential encoding: Encoding process in which signal states are represented as changes to succeeding values rather than absolute values.

out-of-band emissions: Emissions on frequencies immediately outside the necessary bandwidth, which results from the modulation process, but excluding spurious emissions. The out-of-band domain is the region within which such emissions occur for a given waveform.

reference subcarrier: A dedicated OFDM subcarrier that conveys L1 system control and status information contained in the system control data sequence. It also contains synchronization information from which the receiver determines the frame and block structure of the IBOC signal.


Products

Chrysler Offers In-Car Broadband
Struggling automaker Chrysler Corporation is hoping to restore some high-tech cachet to its product line by becoming the first automaker to offer an in-car Wi-fi network that connects car and occupants to the public Internet via 2.5 or 3G wireless services. Broadcasters are watching the move with interest, as embedded mobile broadband will make dedicated in-dash Internet radios a practical reality for the first time.

Dubbed Uconnect, the cellular-connected wireless router will drive an entire suite of technology options for buyers, including phone, entertainment, navigation and information functionality. Among the options:

  • Uconnect Phone, will provide speech-driven, hands-free Bluetooth connection to the users cell phone
  • Uconnect Tunes, offering a built-in 30GB hard drive for audio and video media storage
  • Uconnect GPS, which interfaces with both audio and phone layers to provide hands-free voice controlled navigation.

For backseat drivers, and passengers as well, Chrysler plans to offer Sirius Satellite Radio's three-channel family TV service and Internet access to Wi-fi-equipped laptops and PDAs.

Uconnect will be available as a dealer-installed option in Chrysler's 2009 product line.




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