Digital Radio Update - September 5, 2007


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Index:


News

NAB, Satcasters Stoke Merger Flame War
While the passage of summer's last days may bring cooler temperatures across the country, the rhetoric continues to sizzle in the ongoing war of words between proponents of a proposed Sirius/XM merger and the NAB, a stridently vocal critic of same.

With the regulatory shot clock running down, and the number of comments filed on the FCC's merger proceeding (Docket # 07-57) at a staggering 7879, Sirius/XM supporters slammed a recent NAB filing for what they labeled as desperation and distortion.

Merger supporters also claimed that the NAB deliberately mischaracterized the position of two U.S. Congressmen and auto-making giant Toyota, and charged the organization with setting up Astroturf opposition organizations run out of its legal offices.

For its part, the NAB has submitted a number of filings that paint Sirius' offer of a la carte service for post-merge subscribers as deceptive, calling the proposal nothing than a merger to monopoly.

With the FCC proceeding now in the comment reply phase, sniping and backbiting is expected to accelerate as the matter slides towards an initial decision deadline of Dec. 4. Veteran observers have predicted that Siruis/XM will successfully lobby to push the Commission's vote back if signs wax negative as the vote deadline nears.


Business

BE Offers HD Expertise at CPB, NPR Workshops
Broadcast Electronics is scheduled to present a series of HD Radio case studies at two public radio events, one hosted by the Corporation for Public Broadcasters and another by NPR Labs.

At the Digital Transition Assistance Program (D-TAP) workshop sponsored by CPB, BE says it intends to provide a look at early and established successes of HD Radio broadcasting as a road map for public broadcasters applying for the next wave of CPB funding.

At another event, the NPR Labs PAD Workshop and Meeting on Sept. 25, BE plans to focus on current program data activities at stations, along with recent developments in the delivery of data over HD Radio channels. BE has previously demonstrated public radio PAD implementations in collaboration with PRI and NPR, and now offers TRE Message Manager, an integrated product for RDS, HD Radio and Web data.

Workshop participation is part of BE's public HD Radio initiative that includes demonstrations of WFAE FM 90.7 multicasting and Messagecasting at the NAB Radio Show, a resource Web page and CPB matching-fund financing by GE Capital for qualified public stations.

The CPB D-TAP workshop will be held on Sept. 25, prior to the NAB Radio Show in Charlotte, NC, and again on Oct.10, following the Western States Public Radio Conference in Los Angeles. The NPR Labs PAD workshop and meeting also will be held on Sept. 25, at the Westin Charlotte Hotel, Charlotte, N.C.


IBOC Across America

IBOC by State: District of Columbia
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 23 stations in the capital city broadcasting 35 HD Radio channels with two more soon to come.

MarketStationHD-1 FormatHD-2 FormatOwner
WashingtonWTGB-FM 94.7Clsc RockAdult AlternativeCBS Radio
WashingtonWCSP-FM 90.1News/Tlk/Inf- National Cable Satellite Corporation
WashingtonWETA-FM 90.9Classical-Greater Washington Educational Telecomm Association
WashingtonWHUR-FM 96.3Urban ACWHUR WorldHoward University
WashingtonWJZW-FM 105.9Smooth JazzSunday BrunchCitadel
WashingtonWMAL-AM 630News/Talk-Citadel
WashingtonWMMJ-FM 102.3Urban AC-Radio One
WashingtonWOL-AM 1450News/Talk-Radio One
WashingtonWRQX-FM 107.3Hot AC-Citadel
WashingtonWTEM-AM 980Sprts/Talk-Clear Channel Radio
WashingtonWTNT-AM 570Talk/News-Clear Channel Radio
WashingtonWAMU-FM 88.5Nws/Tlk/InfWTMD Towson UniversityAmerican University
WashingtonWWDC-FM 101.1AlternativeElliot on Demand/News RockClear Channel Radio
WashingtonWASH-FM 97.1ACAdult Standards/Easy ListeningClear Channel Radio
WashingtonWBIG-FM 100.3OldiesOldies 50s and 60sClear Channel Radio
WashingtonWPRS-FM 104.1Black Gospl-Bonneville International Corp.
WashingtonWITH-FM 99.5CHRNew CHRClear Channel Radio
WashingtonWJFK-FM 106.7Talk-CBS Radio
WashingtonWMZQ-FM 98.7CountryClassic CountryClear Channel Radio
WashingtonWPGC-FM 95.5CHR/RhymcGospelCBS Radio
WashingtonWTOP-FM 103.5NewsGlobal Unsigned BandsBonneville International Corp.
WashingtonWTWP-FM 107.7News/Talk-Bonneville International Corp.
WashingtonWTWP-AM 1500News/Talk-Bonneville International Corp.

Eye on IBOC

The Light at the End of the Tunnel
The transition to digital has been a protracted struggle for radio broadcasters. It's now getting on late in 2007, and while an impressive number of radio stations have anted up and adopted HD Radio technology, few consumers have managed to muster much more than a ho-hum to the idea of adding a pricey new radio to their stable of legacy receivers.

Yet just when it seems that things can get much worse, they may be getting ready to.

According to a number of reports coming from the recent House Judiciary Committee Hearing on Broadcast Performance Rights, the light at the end of the metaphoric tunnel that represents our long IBOC digital transition may just be a freight train heading our way.

It's no secret that HD Radio's only real selling point for consumers thus far has been the multicast application. Convince a Jazz fan that he may actually have a choice between a couple of jazz channels that didn't previously exist in his market with no monthly subscription, and well, you may have just landed a convert.

But signs from Washington indicate that the cost of programming those multicast services, as well as analog channels, may be about to take off -- at least if the RIAA gets its way, as the recording industry, now firming up their gains from online broadcasters, is proposing nothing less than a statutory per-recording performance royalty for radio airplay.

A recent article in the Broadcast Law Blog published by Davis, Wright, Tremaine LLC, a post by David Oxenford contains this timely warning to broadcasters: "The proponents of the new royalty have made a facially attractive case for imposing this new obligation on broadcasters. Broadcasters must pay attention to this issue now, and explain to their Congressional representatives the impact that such a royalty would have, as this is currently the single most direct threat to their bottom line. And, if the tenor of the conversation at the hearing is any indication, the threat is real."

At the end of a summer full of tough news for our industry, its time for radio broadcasters to link arms and mobilize against a threat that could derail HD Radio before it even leaves the station.


HD Radio Terminology

The New Language of HD Radio
complex conjugate: The mathematical operation where the sign of the imaginary component of a complex number is inverted: conj(a+jb) = a-jb. This operation is implicit in the generation of a radio signal with symmetrical sidebands above and below center frequency.
scrambling: The process of modulo 2 summing the input data bits with a pseudo-random bit stream to randomize the time domain bit stream.
quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM): A form of digital phase and amplitude modulation that assigns one of m discrete phase-and-amplitude combinations to a carrier (or to an OFDM subcarrier) with each phase-and-amplitude state representing one symbol mQAM has m possible symbols. For instance, 16 QAM has 16 possible symbols, each representing 4 bits per symbol.


Products

Sprint Wimax Rollout Begins in December
Sprint Nextel is about to begin the rollout of its new Wimax broadband wireless network, representing a reported $5 billion investment by the telecom giant.

According to an Aug. 17 report on CIO-Today.com, Sprint will begin offering Xohm, its 2-4mb/s mobile data service, to customers in the Chicago and Washington/Baltimore markets this December, just in time for last-minute Christmas buyers looking for a perfect techno-gift for friends and loved ones.

What has piqued the interest of many convergent media providers is Sprint's previous declaration that Wimax would be an "open" network, with plenty of room for new technology partners and applications. So far, handset producers Motorola, Samsung and Nokia have announced that Wimax chipset-equipped products will be offered to their customers. Sprint says that Xohm modem cards for laptops and other non-proprietary platforms will also be offered.

Many observers feel that Wimax may represent a tipping point in how and where consumers pull audio and video media from the Net, as savvy manufacturers begin to buy and imbed Wimax chipsets in all manner of consumer devices.

Sprint is not alone in the multi-billion dollar venture. The company will be working hand in hand with network partner Clearwire to provide coverage to as many as an estimated 100 million potential subscribers within the next 16 months.


DRM Vendors Display Wares at ICB 2007
The latest in DRM compatible and multi-standard consumer products will be on display at the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) 2007, running from Sept. 7-12 in Amsterdam.

DRM related consumer products making an appearance in Hall 10 of the RAI Exhibition and Congress Centre include:

  • Analog Devices new Blackfin-based Digital Radio and Audio Client reference and ADSST-260 Multimode digital tuner
  • Himalaya's new DRM Himalaya 2009 compatible receiver
  • Morphy Richards DRM Radio
  • The DRB 32 PC-controlled Shortwave Receiver and Platform for Software Defined Radio (SDR) by NTi
  • RadioScape's RS500 DAB/DRM module
  • Bosch/Blaupunkt's new DRM car receiver prototype
  • The SRZ RP-227 DRM Orlyonok digital radio receiver by Sarapulsky Radiozavod
  • Starwaves' new Car Box product.
  • Winradio's WR-G315e professional grade digital receiver

Elsewhere at IBC 2007, DRM-capable professional products and live DRM broadcasts will be demonstrated by: Digidia, Fraunhofer IIS, Kintronic Labs Inc., Nautel Ltd., Radioscape plc., RIZ-Transmitters Co., Thomson Broadcast & Multimedia, Transradio Sender Systeme Berlin AG, VT Communications

The Digital Radio Mondiale Consortium notes that DRM MW and SW band digital transmissions are currently being beamed into Europe and North America, Mexico, Russia, China and India on a regular basis.




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