Digital Radio Update - September 3, 2008


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Index

  • FCC Publishes NOI on Mandatory Sat/HD Radio Bundling
  • Fraunhofer Debuts Surround via DAB+ and streamed MP3 at IFA
  • High End HD Radio Products Shine at CEDIA Expo
  • IBOC by State: New York
  • A Digital Radio Proposal that Deserves Our Attention
  • The New Language of Digital Radio
  • $50 Rebates Still Available on Select HD Radio Receivers and Tuners
  • New DAB Receiver Goes Pocket-Size Portable

  • News

    FCC Publishes NOI on Mandatory Sat/HD Radio Bundling
    Keeping with a promise made to critics of the recent 3-2 approval of Sirius Satellite Radio's buyout of XM, the FCC published a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) in the Aug. 25 Federal Register addressing industry suggestions that new satellite radio receivers sold in the U.S. be required to include HD Radio functionality.

    In typical fashion, the Commission's NOI poses a plethora of questions in an attempt to glean information on multiple dimensions of the issue, beginning with whether there are currently any "multifunction" receivers on or coming to market soon, as well as why or why not. This portion of the document also inquires about what demand for HD Radio currently exists and questions what incentives the HD Radio industry might offer automakers to bring about a marketplace in which OEM HD Radios become the norm.

    Also addressed is the issue of EAS, and whether mandatory multifunction capability might address concerns raised by the fact that SDARS services are not required to provide carriage of EAS state or local emergency traffic.

    But the balance of the NOI dwells on questions of economic impacts, fairness and technical issues that multifunction requirements would impose on receiver manufacturers, automakers and consumers. The issue is parsed down further to address the issue of reciprocity. In other words, if sat radio manufacturers are required to include HD Radio, shouldn't those companies manufacturing HD Radios be required to include satellite capability?

    For those interested in HD Radios rollout, both the NOI and the many comments it is bound to evoke makes for interesting reading. The complete NOI is available at hraunfoss.fcc.gov.


    Business

    Fraunhofer Debuts Surround via DAB+ and streamed MP3 at IFA
    Fraunhofer is making a surround sound splash this week with its floor demonstration of surround delivery via both MP3 streams and DAB+ at the giant IFA 2008 consumer electronics show in Berlin.

    The company is actively demonstrating delivery of an identical surround signal source, Rock Antenne radio, via the MPEG Surround standard, which compresses the six channels of a surround music track into the same bandwidth as a compressed stereo signal. The programming is then being encoded and transmitted on both an Internet stream and DAB+ radio signal for reception using compatible surround decoders at the company's booth on the IFA exhibit floor.

    The MPEG Surround standard was developed by engineers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits ISS in Erlangen. The standard automatically produces a stereo mix and sets parameters describing the surround sound, removing the need for broadcasters to transmit simultaneously in stereo and surround. Conventional speakers play back a regular stereo signal, while a DAB equipped with surround decoder and speakers to reproduce the original 5.1 audio. IFA 2007 posted 1,212 exhibitors from 32 countries with over 222,000 visitors.


    High End HD Radio Products Shine at CEDIA Expo
    HD Radio will headline this month at the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) EXPO this week at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

    On display are a line of more than 20 products, three of which are Itunes Tagging-enabled, including seven newly announced Integra, McIntosh and Yamaha products for the home installer.

    Audio manufacturers, such as Audio Design Associates, Denon, Marantz, Niles Audio, Onkyo, and Polk also offer custom-install, home theater receivers and processors with HD Radio technology.


    IBOC Across America

    IBOC by State: New York
    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 103 stations in the Empire State broadcasting 167 HD Radio channels.

    MarketStationHD1 FormatHD2 FormatHD3 FormatOwner
    AlbanyWAMK-FM 90.9News/Talk/Info--WAMC/Northeast Public Radio
    AlbanyWAMQ- FM 105.1News/Info/Jazz--WAMC/Northeast Public Radio
    Albany-Schenectady-TroyWDCD- AM 1540Inspiration--DRJ Broadcasting
    Albany-Schenectady-TroyWBZZ-FM 105.7Hot AC--Regent
    Albany-Schenectady-TroyWTRY-FM 98.3OldiesSmooth Jazz-Clear Channel
    Albany-Schenectady-TroyWGY-AM 810News/Talk--Clear Channel
    Albany-Schenectady-TroyWRVE- FM 99.5Adult RockAAA Rock-Clear Channel
    Albany-Schenectady-TroyWKKF-FM102.3CHRNew CHR-Clear Channel
    Albany-Schenectady-TroyWPTR- FM 96.7Christian Contemporary--DRJ Broadcasting
    Albany-Schenectady-TroyWOFX- AM 980Sports--Clear Channel
    Albany-Schenectady-TroyWHRL- FM 103.1AlternativeClassic Alternative-Clear Channel
    Albany-Schenectady-TroyWCAN- FM 93.3News/Info/Classical--WAMC/Northeast Public Radio
    Albany-Schenectady-TroyWAMC- FM 90.3News/Talk/InfoNews and Information-WAMC/Northeast Public Radio
    Albany-Schenectady-TroyWDDY- AM 1460Family Hits--Radio Disney
    Albany-Schenectady-TroyWGNA- FM 107.7Country--Regent
    Albany-Schenectady-TroyWPYX- FM 106.5Classic RockVinyl Vineyard-Clear Channel
    AuburnWDWN- FM 89.1Alternative/Variety--Cayuga County Community College
    Buffalo-Niagara FallsWYRK- FM 106.5CountryCountry - Young Country-Regent
    Buffalo-Niagara FallsWECK- AM 1230Talk/Sports--Culver Communications
    Buffalo-Niagara FallsWJYE- FM 96.1Soft RockJazz - Smooth Jazz-Regent
    Buffalo-Niagara FallsWLKK- FM 107.7Classic RockRock - Live Rock-Entercom Communications Corp.
    Buffalo-Niagara FallsWNED- FM 94.5ClassicalPublic News and Information-Western New York Public Broadcasting Association
    Buffalo-Niagara FallsWTSS- FM 102.5Hot ACBlues-Entercom Communications Corp.
    Buffalo-Niagara FallsWKSE- FM 98.5CHRComedy-Entercom Communications Corp.
    Buffalo-Niagara FallsWDCX- FM 99.5ReligionContemporary Christian-Crawford Broadcasting Company
    Buffalo-Niagara FallsWBUF- FM 92.9JackOther - MY HD-Regent
    Buffalo-Niagara FallsWGRF- FM 96.9Classic Rock--Citadel
    Buffalo-Niagara FallsWEDG- FM 103.3Rock--Citadel
    Buffalo-Niagara FallsWBFO- FM 88.7News/JazzXPoNential - AAA-State University of New York
    Buffalo-Niagara FallsWBLK- FM 93.7Urban ACUrban - Urban AC-Regent
    Burlington-Plattsburgh, VT-NYWGLY- FM 91.5ChristianContemporary Christian-Christian Ministries
    Burlington-Plattsburgh, VT-NYWCEL- FM 91.9Nrws/Tslk/Info--WAMC/Northeast Public Radio
    Burlington-Plattsburgh, VT-NYWVPS- FM 107.9NPR/News/InfoClassicalBBC World ServiceVermont Public Radio
    Burlington-Plattsburgh, VT-NYWANC- FM 103.9News/Info/Classical--WAMC/Northeast Public Radio
    CantonWSLU- FM 89.5Variety--St Lawrence University
    Elmira-CorningWPGI- FM 100.9Country--Backyard Broadcasting
    Hamptons-RiverheadWLIU- FM 88.3NPR/News/Jazz--Long Island University Public Radio
    Hamptons-RiverheadWHFM- FM 95.3AOR--Cox Radio
    IthacaWIII- FM 99.9Classic Rock--Saga
    Nassau-SuffolkWALK- FM 97.5ACLong Island Country-Clear Channel
    Nassau-SuffolkWQBU- FM 92.7MexicanAll Salsa - La Kalle Dos-Univision Radio
    Nassau-SuffolkWBAB- FM 102.3AOR--Cox Radio
    New YorkWWPR- FM 105.1UrbanPower Espanol-Clear Channel
    New YorkWKTU- FM 103.5CHR/RhythmicCountry-Clear Channel
    New YorkWOR- AM 710News/Talk--Buckley Broadcasting
    New YorkWCBS- FM 101.1Oldies80s Hits-CBS Radio
    New YorkWCBS- AM 880News--CBS Radio
    New YorkWFAS- FM 103.9AC--Cumulus Media
    New YorkWQHT- FM 97.1Rhythmic/CHRHip-Hop Gold-Emmis
    New YorkWFUV- FM 90.7AAA/FolkFUV 24/7 - AAA-Fordham University
    New YorkWAXQ- FM 104.3Classic RockDeep Cuts Classic Rock-Clear Channel
    New YorkWWFS- FM 102.7Soft ACThe New WNEW-CBS Radio
    New YorkWINS- AM 1010News--CBS Radio
    New YorkWFAN- AM 660Sports/Talk--CBS Radio
    New YorkWQEW- AM 1560Family Hits--Radio Disney
    New YorkWCAA- FM 105.9Spanish/VarietyAll Salsa - La Kalle Dos-Univision Radio
    New YorkWBGO- FM 88.3 JazzTBD-Newark Public Radio
    New YorkWPAT- FM 93.1Spanish AC--Spanish Broadcasting System
    New YorkWLTW- FM 106.7Lite ACLite Classics-Clear Channel
    New YorkWXRK- FM 92.3Rock--CBS Radio
    New YorkWSOU- FM 89.5Modern Rock/Public ServiceCatholic-Seton Hall University
    New YorkWHTZ- FM 100.3CHRNew CHR/New Top 40-Clear Channel
    New YorkWSKQ- FM 97.9Tropical--Spanish Broadcasting System
    New YorkWRKS- FM 98.7Urban ACGospel-Emmis
    New YorkWRXP- FM 101.9Adult RockSmooth Jazz-Emmis
    New YorkWABC- AM 770News/Talk--Citadel
    New YorkWADO- AM 1280Spanish/News/Sports--Univision Radio
    New YorkWNYC- FM 93.9News/Talk/ClassicalClassical-WNYC Radio
    New YorkWNYC- AM 820Talk/News--WNYC Radio
    New YorkWPLJ- FM 95.5Hot AC80sOldiesCitadel
    Newburgh-MiddletownWGNY- FM 103.1ACReal Oldies WGNY-AMCountry WTSX-FMSunrise Broadcasting
    Newburgh-MiddletownWOSR- FM 91.7News/Talk/Info--WAMC/Northeast Public Radio
    OleanWPSX- FM 90.1VarietyNPR Music and News-The Pennsylvania State University
    PoughkeepsieWPDH- FM 101.5Classic Rock--Cumulus Media
    RochesterWCMF- FM 96.5Classic RockRock - Brother Weeze Music Show-Entercom Communications Corp.
    RochesterWLGZ- AM 990Adult Standard--Crawford Broadcasting Company
    RochesterWKGS- FM 106.7CHRCHR - All New-Clear Channel
    RochesterWZNE- FM 94.1AlternativeIndie Rock-Stephens Media Group
    RochesterWVOR- FM 102.3Soft ACAC - All 70s-Clear Channel
    RochesterWFXF- FM 95.1Classic RockRock - Deep Rock Tracks-Clear Channel
    RochesterWCRR- FM 107.3CountryRock - Classic AlternativeClear Channel
    RochesterWLGZ- FM 102.7Adult StandardWLGZ-AM-Crawford Broadcasting Company
    RochesterWHAM- AM 1180News/Talk--Clear Channel
    RochesterWDVI- FM 100.5Hot ACRock - Triple AClear Channel
    RochesterWHTK- AM 1280Talk--Clear Channel
    RochesterWFKL- FM 93.3AC--Stephens Media Group
    RochesterWPXY- FM 97.9CHRAC - Modern AC-Entercom Communications Corp.
    RochesterWEOS- FM 89.7Alternative/AAA/News--Colleges of the Seneca
    RochesterWBZA- FM 98.9Classic HitsBlues-Entercom Communications Corp.
    RochesterWBEE- FM 92.5CountryComedy-Entercom Communications Corp.
    RochesterWXXI- FM 91.5ClassicalTalk/NewsWXXI-AMWXXI Public Broadcasting Council
    SyracuseWPHR- FM 106.9Urban ACSmooth Jazz-Clear Channel
    SyracuseWYYY- FM 94.5ACPride Radio-Clear Channel
    SyracuseWBBS- FM 104.7CountryChristian - The Walk-Clear Channel
    SyracuseWNTQ- FM 93.1CHR--Citadel
    SyracuseWWHT- FM 107.9CHRSpanish - La Bomba-Clear Channel
    SyracuseWRVO- FM 89.9News/Talk/InfoNPR-State University of New York
    SyracuseWAER- FM 88.3Jazz/News--Syracuse University
    SyracuseWCNY- FM 91.3ClassicalOldies 50s and 60s-Public Broadcasting Council of Central New York
    SyracuseWOLF- AM 1490Children--WOLF Radio, Inc.
    Utica-RomeWFRG- FM 104.3Country--Regent
    Utica-RomeWUNY- FM 89.5ClassicalOldies 50s/60s-Public Broadcasting Council of Central New York
    WatertownWJNY- FM 90.9ClassicalOldies 50s/60s-Public Broadcasting Council of Central New York

    Eye on IBOC

    A Digital Radio Proposal that Deserves Our Attention
    With the pending DTV transition and re-farming of TV spectrum moving into high gear, various proposals have surfaced regarding possible reallocation of lower-end VHF channels, now seen as less desirable for TV broadcasting as it enters an all digital era. Notable among these is a thought-provoking proposal recently tendered to the FCC comes from a group calling itself the Broadcast Maximization Committee (BMC).

    The 122-page document in question was submitted by the BMC in response to the Commission's call for comments on seven different docket items, including the quixotic ownership diversity proceeding. What the filing suggests is a transition for AM radio broadcasting onto what are now TV channels 5 and 6, a break with the past that also addresses a passel of hot industry issues such as LPFM, FM translators, IBOC digital signal penetration, and congestion issues within the current FM band.

    At a glance, it's easy to dismiss such a sweeping proposal as another solution in search of a problem. But a close look at committee member credentials and the scope of research that went into this document ought to give every seasoned engineer and manager sufficient pause to take a close look at what's being suggested.

    Let's start with the basics. With the DTV transition, many VHF low-band TV stations opted to move their digital signals up to UHF, where they will experience more consistent propagation. That leaves relatively few TV signals (24 to be exact) left on channels 5 and 6, all of which could be reassigned, says BMC, though some with more effort than others. The vacated spectrum would then be reallocated into 117 new 100kHz all-digital radio channels between 76.05 and 87.75MHz

    So who would be eligible to move into FM's expanded digital band? Currently operating AM stations would all be eligible for the first 100 channels under a standard allocation table with uniform separation and four basic station classes. In theory, virtually every AM station wanting to make the move could be accommodated. The remaining 17 digital channels would be assigned to some existing and additional NCE and LPFM stations, relieving congestion and adjacency conflicts on the existing FM band, while one channel would be set aside for NOAA all hazards radio.

    Full digital operation, as opposed to analog or hybrid HD Radio, plays a prominent role in this proposal. As envisioned by the BMC, the new allocations would operate with 100kHz fully digital channels, versus the old model of 200kHz channel bandwidths. Because a digital-only system is far more spectrally efficient than hybrid systems that need to protect analog audio, the proponents believe that this system could provide a template for conversion of the existing FM band.

    Although the BMC document mentions no specific digital modulation standard, the DRM+ system clearly comes to mind. DRM+ is an open standard digital-only implementation designed specifically for VHF application and was recently successfully tested in Germany. It can be provisioned for either 50 or 100kHz channel bandwidths

    Presumably, the extended digital VHF band would coexist for some period of time with analog-only and analog hybrid IBOC digital signals continuing to occupy spectrum between 88 and 108MHz, with the new extended band providing an eventual migration path to a unified, all-digital service.

    In sum, the BMC has succeeded in putting forth a highly detailed proposal for a vision of a unified digital radio service that would largely preserve existing coverage hierarchies, while providing parity between AM and FM licensees along with additional opportunities for highly localized community and NCE stations to serve their niche constituencies. As such, it warrants a thorough analysis, discussion, and critique by an informed broadcast community.

    The complete document is available at www.ccbroadcasters.com.


    HD Radio Terminology

    The New Language of Digital Radio
    pulse-shaping function: A time-domain pulse superimposed on the OFDM symbol to improve code rate.

    protocol control information (PCI): Information about the payload data, including: Stream ID, length of payload, and Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC) for the PCI.

    service mode: A specific configuration of operating parameters specifying throughput, performance level and selected logical channels.


    Products

    $50 Rebates Still Available on Select HD Radio Receivers and Tuners
    If you haven't had the chance to take advantage of the HD Radio Alliance's latest HD Radio product purchase incentives, it's still not too late. Rebates of $50 continue to be available on select models of HD Radio receivers and tuners through Sept. 29.

    For rebate offer details, go to ak.buy.com.


    New DAB Receiver Goes Pocket-Size Portable
    Goodmans, a UK-based marketer of consumer audio and video products, has just introduced what the company describes as the world's smallest stand-alone DAB receiver.

    Based on Frontier Silicon's Vega module, the new GHDAB 101 weighs less than two ounces, measures 2.7" x 1.7" x .8", and includes both DAB and analog FM functionality. Powered by a pair of AAA alkaline batteries, the company claims users will be able to listen to up to 10 hours of DAB, or 15 hours of analog FM.

    The GHDAB101 comes equipped with a pair of headphones that double as an antenna. Other features include a blue backlit display, volume level controls and 10 presets

    Goodmans says the GHDAB101 will retail in the UK for about $85.




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