Digital Radio Update - July 11, 2007


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Index:

  • DAB Receiver Sales Reach 5 Million Mark
  • NAB to Present First HD Multicasting Award at Radio Show
  • Clear Channel Debuts Expanded Traffic Info Service via HD Radio
  • Tech Partners Successfully Test Conditional Access Traffic Data
  • Dice Plays Nice with Iphone
  • XM Adds Scrolling Text Feature
  • IBOC by State: South Carolina
  • The Lady or the Tiger?
  • CNET Review Gives JVC KD HDR1 High Marks

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    News

    DAB Receiver Sales Reach 5 Million Mark
    DAB radio in the UK is going strong with receiver sales now at about 5 million units, according to a report just released by the British-based Digital Radio Development Bureau. The latest sales figures reflect a listener base of approximately 10 million listeners with a receiver penetration rate of about 18 percent says the DRDB, which anticipates an increase to about 20.8 percent by year's end.

    But DRDB experts also note that increasing consumer awareness and adoption mean the industry now needs to focus on education and promotion of the technology within the telecom and automobile industry sectors, along with efforts to insure compatibility with wireless and other digital consumer entertainment devices. The transition to mainstream status will also be bringing changes to the leadership of the DRDB, as CEO Ian Dickens plans to step down after five years tenure. His replacement has not yet been named.


    NAB to Present First HD Multicasting Award at Radio Show
    The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has established a new award intended to identify and honor the producers of outstanding programming specifically created for HD Radio multicast channels. The NAB HD Radio Multicast Award will be given to a multicast station that is judged tops in creating unique, innovative or groundbreaking programming airing on a multicast channel. The award will be presented at the keynote session on Sept. 27 during The NAB Radio Show in Charlotte, NC.

    NAB Executive Vice President John David described the new award as a way for the industry to "recognize stations making significant strides in utilizing HD Radio to enhance their local audience's listening experience."

    Stations wishing to submit their entries online can do so through the NAB website beginning July 13. More information on the event is available form Chris Suever at csuever@nab.org or 202-775-3511.


    Technology/Applications

    Clear Channel Debuts Expanded Traffic Info Service via HD Radio
    Clear Channel Radio says its Total Traffic Network has begun transmitting traffic data via HD Radio in 48 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas, marking it as the first commercially available data service offered over IBOC digital radio. The company claims to be working closely with multiple manufacturers in order to provide specially-equipped receivers by the end of 2007.

    The announcement coincided with the company's expansion of real-time traffic data delivery over RDS-TMC (Radio Data System Traffic Message Channel) in 19 new markets that include Albany, NY; Albuquerque, NM; Birmingham, AL; Columbia, SC; Fort Myers, FL; Louisville, KY; Omaha, NE; Portsmouth/Manchester, NH; Richmond, VA; Rochester, NY; Sarasota, FL; Springfield, MA; Syracuse, NY; Toledo, OH; Tucson, AZ; Worcester, MA and Toronto, ON; Ottawa, ON and Montreal, QC. Clear Channe says Total Traffic now delivers real-time traffic via RDS-TMC in 68 cities, with plans to add more markets throughout 2007. This expanded RDS coverage is made available to existing subscribers without additional charge.

    CC's Total Traffic Network currently provides real-time traffic information to devices made by Garmin, Tom Tom, Mio-Mitac, Delphi, Kenwood, Clarion, Navigon, Cobra Electronics and Siemens VDO, and supplies traffic content to several media outlets including Citadel Broadcasting, Univision, Fox Interactive Media and others.

    Clear Channel inked an agreement with BMW of North America, LLC in 2006 to make it the first automaker in the United States to offer real-time traffic as a subscription-free service included with navigation on select models. Earlier this year, Mini USA became the second brand to sign on with a similar agreement.


    Tech Partners Successfully Test Conditional Access Traffic Data
    Broadcast Electronics (BE), Emmis Communications, NDS and Ibiquity Digital report a successful conclusion to their first HD Radio conditional-access field transmission test of traffic data services at Emmis' WKQX-FM (Q101) in Chicago. The May 23 and 24 trials addressed the ability of broadcasters to allocate bandwidth and protect content, and were the first conditional-access tests to utilize real-time traffic information over the HD Radio system to vehicle navigational systems.

    BE and NDS provided the HD Radio equipment that included NDS encryption and bandwidth provisioning, while Traffic.com provided the real-time traffic content. The trial included authorization/deauthorization of a data service receiver, end-to-end system functionality, reception/decryption of traffic data at the receiver and recording of data to determine latency and data stability in the encrypted channel. Reports by test engineers claim data gathered along routes driven in various multipath environments around the Chicago area yielded no dropped data packets or loss of service.

    Spokespersons for Emmis, BE and Ibiquity noted the success of Conditional Access data delivery via HD Radio will provide broadcasters a significant new option to leverage their HD Data capability into new revenue streams.


    Business

    Dice Plays Nice with Iphone
    With the much-ballyhooed arrival of Apple's new Iphone, consumer electronics manufacturers are scrambling to promote a gaggle of compatible media platforms and accessories. Dice Electronics was no exception, as the company raced to assure consumers that the company's Ipod interfaces are compatible with Iphone.

    Dice says radios with text support will allow full display of what's playing on a user's Iphone. Songs, playlist, albums and even audiobook chapters can be changed from either head unit or steering wheel controls, while the Dice integration kit facilitates access to songs and playlists available from the Iphone. The kit also pauses music during calls and resumes on hang up, as well as charges the phone while in the docking device.

    Dice Ipod adapter kits are available for selected models of Acura, Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Honda, Hummer, Lexus, Mazda, Mini Cooper, Pontiac, Scion, Toyota and Volkswagen.


    XM Adds Scrolling Text Feature
    London-based digital broadcast software developer Unique Interactive has announced the rollout of its Man DLS scrolling text software over the XM Satellite Radio system. The new software allows XM subscribers to see enhanced messaging on their receivers, providing a conduit for additional listener program and ancillary information.

    Unique Interactive says the new software allows broadcasters to provide scrolling dynamic messaging across receiver displays, including sports scores, weather, news, music track and artist information, as well as other essential public service information such as the latest traffic news and emergency alerts.

    Unique Interactive also provides scrolling text software for the DAB, DTTV and DRM platforms in the UK, Europe, Asia and Australia as well as for terrestrial HD Radio.


    IBOC Across America

    IBOC by State: South 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 list the stations making the transition. There are 18 stations in the Palmetto State broadcasting 27 HD Radio channels.

    MarketStationHD1 FormatHD2 FormatHD3 FormatOwner
    CharlestonWSCC-FM 94.3Talk--Clear Channel Radio
    CharlestonWALC-FM 100.5Modern AC--Clear Channel Radio
    CharlestonWXLY-FM 102.5Oldies--Clear Channel Radio
    CharlestonWEZL-FM 103.5Country--Clear Channel Radio
    CharlestonWRFQ-FM 104.5Clsc Hits--Clear Channel Radio
    ColumbiaWUSC-FM 90.5VarietyVariety-University of South Carolina
    ColumbiaWLTY-FM 96.7Soft AC--Clear Channel Radio
    ColumbiaWLXC-FM 98.5Urban AC--Citadel
    ColumbiaWXBT-FM 100.1Hip Hop--Clear Channel Radio
    ColumbiaWCOS-AM 1400Sports--Clear Channel Radio
    Greenville-SpartanburgWLFJ-FM 89.3ChrsContempHis Radio ZHis Radio PraiseRadio Training Network
    Greenville-SpartanburgWESC-FM 92.5CountryCountry - Americana-Clear Channel Radio
    Greenville-SpartanburgWFBC-FM 93.7Top 40Comedy-Entercom Communications
    Greenville-SpartanburgWBZT-FM 96.7RockRock - Classic Alternative-Clear Channel Radio
    Greenville-SpartanburgWSPA-FM 98.9Lite ACBlues-Entercom Communications
    Greenville-SpartanburgWSSL-FM 100.5CountryReligious - Christian AC-Clear Channel Radio
    Greenville-SpartanburgWMYI-FM 102.5ACAC - Hot AC-Clear Channel Radio
    Greenville-SpartanburgWPCI-AM 1490Eclectic--Hunter Broadcast Group

    Eye on IBOC

    The Lady or the Tiger?
    A July 3 Washington Post article by staff writer Sam Diaz sets up an interesting controversy about precisely whose ox may get gored at the intersection of two significant developments in radio. Entitled HD Radio Grabs the Ears of Satellite Rivals, the Post article looks at HD Radio's accelerating emergence, and how it might become a factor in the FCC's pivotal, pending decision on whether or not to accommodate a proposed merger between satellite radio providers XM and Sirius.

    The crux of the article centers on an eye-crossing conundrum: Diaz quotes a financial analyst who suggests consumers may not be as motivated to pay a subscription fee for satellite radio once they discover they can significantly increase their listening choices by purchasing a multicast-capable HD receiver with no subscription. If that indeed becomes the case, an FCC decision to permit the merger might well be justified on the basis of ensuring satellite radio's survival. Diaz also cites Sirius CEO Mel Karmazan's assertion that HD Radio is just one more "competitor" threatening to stifle his company's prospects for profitability.

    On the other hand, Diaz quotes HD Digital Radio Alliance President Peter Ferrara as suggesting that a fully consolidated satellite radio industry could be quite successful in blocking OEM HD receiver options from being added to major car brands, thus cutting off a mechanism essential to HD Radio achieving widespread consumer adoption. Ferrara goes on to describe HD Radio and Satellite as complimentary -- not directly competing -- technologies

    With satellite subscription currently running at about 11.5 million, and HD Radio receiver sales yet to break above 1.5 million, which of these conflicting takes will the FCC actually buy into?

    We'll find out soon.


    Products

    CNET Review Gives JVC KD HDR1 High Marks
    JVC's entry into HD Radio auto aftermarket audio has won praise as "a real bargain" from influential online tech publication CNET. In a June 27 review, CNET critiqued the KD HDR1, noting its asking price of around $200 represented a surprising value, given the fact the unit ships with fully integrated HD Radio receive capability. The JVC unit also offers CD, MP3 and WMA capability.

    CNET's Kevin Massy also gave kudos to HD Radio as delivery technology, noting the "superior quality" that digital signals offered over their FM analog counterparts. The author went on to describe HD digital audio as "startling" with "greater clarity, and acoustic separation...far more distinct than in analog mode."




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