Digital Radio Update - July 25, 2007


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News

DRM Trials Kick Off Indian MW/SW Conversion Program
German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle has begun digital transmission to India of English-language programming over MW and SW channels using Digital Radio Mondiale's (DRM) digital standard, according to a press release. The move is intended to help roll out the new transmission technology in the subcontinent as that country's government begins converting broadcast infrastructure below 30MHz to digital delivery.

Peter Senger, chairman of DRM and DRM-director at Deutsche Welle, said the service underscores the commitment of his and other DRM consortium members to get India "on the right track...Deutsche Welle would like to help national broadcaster All India Radio and the Indian industry to establish the DRM-Market in India."

During the test phase carried out by All India Radio, the Asian Pacific Broadcasting Union and the DRM Consortium, Deutsche Welle transmitted DRM from its relay station Trincomalee in Sri Lanka. Test partners said they are pleased with results to date.


Fiat, Worldspace Reach Satellite Radio Accord
Worldspace Italia, a subsidiary of U.S.-based Worldspace Satellite Radio, says it has signed a marketing agreement with Italy's largest domestic automaker, Fiat Group Automobiles, marking the firm as Europe's first distributor of Worldspace satellite radio hardware and programming services.

According to a recent Worldspace press release, the satellite programmer expects to begin broadcasting 40 to 50 channels of commercial-free music, news, entertainment and sports programming to Italy 24 hours a day sometime in 2008 using the popular MPEG-4 AAC Plus v.2 codec.

The deal is said to include provision s for a dedicated promotional and customer-assistance channel for exclusive use by Fiat Group marketing, dealers and customers.

For its part, Fiat says it plans to introduce satellite radios as OEM optional equipment on certain of its Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Lancia models in late 2009.

Worldspace Italia received approval from the Italian Ministry of Communications to launch a subscription-based satellite radio service in Italy in May 2006, utilizing 12.5MHz of the L-band frequency spectrum. The company later signed an agreement with Telecom Italia for deployment of a terrestrial repeater network throughout the nation.


Business

Mississippi Public Broadcasting Taps Continental for HD Radio Conversions
Mississippi Public Broadcasting (MPB) has awarded a $1.48 million contract to install eight analog and HD transmission systems throughout the state of Mississippi to Continental Electronics. When complete, the new transmission systems will allow MPB to deliver news, weather, arts and cultural programming via advanced analog and digital technology to major and rural markets across the state.

The project includes planned installations at WMPN Raymond; WMAV Oxford; WMAH McHenry; WMAU Bude; WMAO Inverness; WMAW Rose Hill; WMAE Booneville and WMAB Ackerman.

The two-phase installation will begin immediately at four stations, with the second phase scheduled to begin no later than early 2008. System design and installation will be provided by Continental with on-site assistance from Mississippi Authority for Educational Television (MAET) personnel.


Spencer Assumes CFO Post at Ibiquity
Ibiquity Digital Corporation has announced the appointment of James Spencer to the position of corporate senior vice president and chief financial officer. Spencer most recently served as CFO, secretary and treasurer at Allion Healthcare in Melville, NY, where he was responsible for leading all finance, accounting, investor relations, information technology and business development functions.

Prior to joining Allion, Spencer was an investment banker with Thomas Weisel Partners, Credit Suisse First Boston and Alex. Brown and Sons. He earned an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a B.S. in economics and management statistics from the University of Maryland.


IBOC Across America

IBOC by State: Hawaii
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 two stations in the Aloha State broadcasting four HD Radio channels.

MarketStationHD1 FormatHD2 FormatOwner
HonoluluKSSK-FM 92.3ACSmooth JazzClear Channel Radio
HonoluluKUCD-FM 101.9AlternativeMetal RockClear Channel Radio

Eye on IBOC

Auto Trade Magazine Offers Intriguing Look at HD Radio
HD Radio may finally be getting the attention it deserves among automakers, if an article in Automotive Engineering Online is any indication. The online trade magazine is a publication of the Society of Automotive Engineers, an influential industry professional and standards organization. In the July edition, Terry Costlow's short, but well researched piece entitled "HD Radio Gains Support" offers some revealing insight into HD Radio's benefits from an automaker's perspective.

For example, one attribute of digital receivers particularly salient to OEM audio designers is the potential for space, power and cost savings that could result from the application of multichannel class D digital switching amplifiers. If surround sound is really ready for prime time, digital delivery via HD Radio could be pivotal in making it a reality in the showroom.

The falling cost of HD Radio chipsets is also a factor. With today's bottom line price of about $15 per unit, OEM electronics vendors are bound to realize that volume can drive an even lower price point. This is crucial in an industry that realizes relatively narrow profit margins on its products.

Of course, the auto industry is also embracing telematics -- the use of navigation, hazard and other real-time information inputs directly into embedded vehicular systems. The fact that the FCC has approved extended hybrid operation on FM HD Radio signals is a point that clearly has automakers' attention. Much of the information needed by telematic systems is local in nature, a factor that works to local broadcasters' advantage when service providers go shopping for a data pass-through pipe for their applications.

Finally, increased content choices via multicasts are of real interest, as automakers come to grips with the fact that many buyers may opt out of taking on the financial burden of a satellite radio subscription.

Costlow's article is available online at www.sae.org/automag/electronics/07-2007/1-115-7-42.pdf.


Products

More Auto Dealers Offering HD Radio
It's no secret that automotive dealerships, struggling with Internet pricing and shrinking markups are always on the lookout for new ways to increase their competitive advantage by adding value to service. That impetus may be paying off for HD Radio, as dealers begin offering HD Radio options to customers of both new and used vehicles.

In Texas, the David McDavid Automotive Group has joined forces with the HD Digital Radio Alliance to offer HD Digital Radio technology at its seven dealerships across the Lone Star state.

Meanwhile, used car buyers in Detroit have an opportunity to receive a free HD Radio with the purchase of any car from Motor City auto dealer Dick Genthe Chevrolet. The program is part of an HD Radio promotion sponsored by Greater Media's 94.7 WCSX and its HD2 companion channel, Deep Trax. Under the promotions terms, customers that present a downloadable coupon from the WCSX web site will have a Directed Electronics Car Connect HD Radio receiver installed in their purchased vehicle at no charge. The WCSK/Genthe promotion runs through Aug. 31.




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