Digital Radio Update - January 10, 2007


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News

Study: Digital Radio Gaining Globally
Radio listeners the world over are embracing new digital content delivery systems at an accelerating pace, according to a recent analysis by In-Stat, a research and forecast firm specializing in advanced communication technologies. The report, entitled "In-depth Analysis: More Consumers to Tune Into Digital Radio in 2007" projects radio receiver sales worldwide to expand from five million units in 2005 to nearly 25 million unit shipments in 2010, a five fold increase in as many years.

One key finding in the report suggests that 73 percent of respondents to a U.S. consumer survey indicated that they had some degree of awareness of HD Radio technology.

"The primary factors contributing to this expected growth are falling receiver prices, an increase in the amount of compelling digital programming, significant boosts in promotion and advertising of digital radio and enhanced functionality of digital radio receivers," said In-Stat Analyst Stephanie Ethiertat.

The study also points to strong digital radio fortunes in Europe, where DAB technology now dominates in the UK. For more information about the report, which covers terrestrial and satellite radio delivery also, click here.


Canadians Ponder Green Light for HD Radio
The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has revised its policy for digital radio broadcasting to consider the HD Radio in-band on-channel (IBOC) system. In its Public Notice CRTC 2006-160, the regulatory authority noted that it would be prepared to authorize services using IBOC technology for AM or FM bands, or both if the Canadian Department of Industry authorizes services using the technology under the Radiocommunication Act. The commission added that it would adopt "an expedited process…for stations that propose to transmit a digital simulcast of their analog service."

According to Ibiquity Digital CEO Robert Struble, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) began FM HD Radio testing in Toronto and Peterborough, Ontario during the month of September 2006. Although test results by the CBC are yet to be published, Struble claims that “early feedback has been very positive,” with similar testing on MW-AM operations slated to begin in early 2007.

The CRTC’s announcement may come as a surprise to some broadcasters south of the border, as many Canadian broadcasters voiced concern about cross-border adjacent channel interference issues early in the U.S. IBOC roll-out process.

The ruling also opens the door for other forms of digital radio, including DRM, DMB and DVB-H. The decision to consider HD Radio specifically was based on the advanced stage of the HD Radio roll-out compared to other technologies in the United States. Canada has authorized Eureka-147 as a digital radio standard, but the roll-out of that technology has been slow to win acceptance with consumers or broadcasters.


Business

Emerson Licenses Technology from Ibiquity
Emerson Radio has been granted a non-exclusive technology license from Ibiquity Digital to produce and sell HD Radio digital audio receivers for the North American consumer electronics market.

“We believe that HD Radio broadcasting is the next great frontier for consumer audio and, with its clear sound and broad range of new channel choices, has the potential to revolutionize radio, much as the introduction of FM broadcasting opened new possibilities for listeners and the electronics industry.” said Eduard Will, Emerson Radio president - North American operations.

Emerson Radio, founded in 1948, is headquartered in Parsippany, NJ, and designs, markets and licenses a line of TV, video, microwave, clock, radio, audio and home theater products.


Microsoft Inks Data Deal With Clear Channel
Microsoft and Clear Channel Radio are hailing a collaborative agreement to build a nationwide data delivery service using HD Radio technology to provide personalized and localized content to a variety of receivers. Branded MSN Direct HD, the initiative represents an extension of Microsoft's existing MSN Direct service, which currently transmits information such as traffic, weather, movie times, sports and stocks to Smart Watches, weather stations, GPS navigation devices and even home appliances.

The expansion of MSN Direct to HD Radio is part of Microsoft’s Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT) initiative, which will allow consumer electronics companies and automotive manufacturers to integrate MSN Direct content delivered via HD Radio with their respective products in 2008. Field tests of the data delivery service will be conducted with the support of Ibiquity Digital.


Jefferson Public Radio Taps Harris
Harris has executed an agreement with Jefferson Public Radio (JPR) to provide HD Radio transmission systems for as many as 21 stations in Oregon and Northern California. JPR expects to take delivery of Harris equipment for its first conversions in January 2007 (KSYC-AM, Mt. Shasta, CA; KSJK-AM and KSMF-FM, Ashland, OR).

In advance of transmitter conversions, JPR and Harris will undertake a digital upgrade of JPR’s network-wide analog microwave distribution system. Overhauling the network will allow digital distribution of as many of nine audio services, as opposed to the three analog public radio services currently shared across JPR. The additional program capacity will facilitate HD-2 and HD-3 multicasts on JPR’s HD Radio FM signals.

Conversion plans call for a staggered deployment over 15 months, with a target completion date of April 2008. JPR’s order reportedly marks the first transmitter purchases by the group since the early 1980s.


BMW to Offer First Showroom Multicast Receivers
BMW is planning to expand its offering of HD Radio-equipped audio systems with factory-installed digital multicast-capable receivers as an option in its entire 2007 line. It’s another HD Radio first for BMW, who in August 2005 became the first automaker to offer OEM availability of HD Radio technology in its 2006 7 Series models, later extending the option to drivers of its 2006 6 Series vehicles. This past June, the company announced that HD Radio would be offered in its 2007 5 Series models.

The HD Radio option will add about $500 to the sticker price of a given BMW model.


Pioneer Introduces More Advanced Car Audio Systems at CES
During CES in Las Vegas, Pioneer Electronics introduced a new line of Pioneer and Premier car stereos that include six models with Ipod Direct capability, eight with USB connectivity and eight with Bluetooth compatibility. The entire line is compatible with XM or Sirius satellite radio.

"Americans want and need information and entertainment 24 hours a day," said Larry Rougas, vice president of marketing and product planning for the mobile entertainment division of Pioneer. "As a result, the car has become as much of a hub for entertainment and communication as the home or office. Pioneer is making that process easier for consumers with stereos that easily connect to portable music players, cell phones and even USB drives."


Products

Visteon Helps Consumers “Jump” into HD Radio
Visteon's new transportable HD Radio receiver, better know as the Jump, will begin shipping in just a few weeks. According to a Visteon’s website, the HD Jump is the only “portable” HD Radio receiver yet available, featuring a small size and six station presets.

Designed for portability, the HD Jump docks into a cradle in the vehicle and wirelessly integrates with a vehicles existing audio system using an FM modulator. The FM multicast-capable Jump can also be carried inside for use with home component audio using an optional adapter. No retail pricing information was available.


Neural, THX Collaborate on Surround
THX and Neural Audio are joining forces to develop and market surround sound technology to content producers and consumer electronics manufacturers. Under the terms of the agreement, Neural Audio will work with THX in developing a Neural Surround product suite designed to enable broadcasters, video game developers and other content distributors to deliver multi-channel surround sound using existing stereo channel schemes.

THX-Neural branded technology will make its first appearance in AV receiver products produced by Sony, Pioneer, Yamaha and Onkyo, all of which are reportedly displaying prototypes in the THX booth at CES 2007 in Las Vegas.

The new development will also enable the creation of true 7.1 soundtracks on advanced gaming platforms, allowing game sound designers to produce interactive, 360-degree soundtracks that pull gamers closer to the action.

On the broadcast side, Harris is expected to continue its ongoing relationship with Neural by providing THX-Neural 5.1 surround compatible encoders. Neural Surround technology has already been implemented by some terrestrial broadcasters, such as Public Radio, and XM Satellite Radio’s XM HD Surround, which provides original surround content across the United States on channels 76 (Fine Tuning) and 113 (POPS).


IBOC Across America

IBOC By State: Virginia
Ibiquity has a list of stations that have licensed HD Radio technology and notes those that are on the air now. IBOC by state looks at various states and list the stations that are making the transition.

There are 26 stations in Virginia broadcasting 37 HD Radio channels

MarketStationHD1 FormatHD2 FormatHD3 FormatOwner
CharlottesvilleWVTU-FM 89.3NPR/ClsclBBC/NPR-Virginia Tech Foundation
CharlottesvilleWVTW-FM 88.5NPR/ClsclBBC/NPR-Virginia Tech Foundation
ChristiansburgWWVT-AM 1260NPR/News--Virginia Tech Foundation
CulpeperWJMA-FM 103.1Country--Piedmont Communications
FerrumWFFC-FM 89.9BBC/NPR TalkExponential Radio-Virginia Tech Foundation
FredericksburgWFLS-FM 93.3Country--Free Lance-Star Publishing
LouisaWOJL-FM 105.5Adult Hits--Piedmont Communications
Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport NewsWAFX-FM 106.9Clsc Rock--Saga
Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport NewsWCDG-FM 92.1OldiesStandards-Clear Channel Radio
Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport NewsWHRO-FM 90.3Classical--Hampton Roads Educational Telecomm Assoc.
Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport NewsWHRV-FM 89.5Nws/Tlk/Inf--Hampton Roads Educational Telecomm Assoc.
Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport NewsWJCD-FM 107.7Smooth JazzClassic Country-Clear Channel Radio
Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport NewsWJOI-AM 1230Adult Standards--Saga
Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport NewsWKUS-FM 105.3Urban ACSmooth Jazz-Clear Channel Radio
Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport NewsWNOR-FM 98.7AOR--Saga
Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport NewsWNVZ-FM 104.5CHR/UrCtp--Entercom Communications
Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport NewsWOWI-FM 102.9UrbanUrban Street Music-Clear Channel Radio
RichmondWBTJ-FM 106.5UrbanUrban Mixes-Clear Channel Radio
RichmondWCDX-FM 92.1Urban--Radio One
RichmondWMXB-FM 103.7Soft AC--Cox Radio
RichmondWRNL-AM 910Sprts/Talk--Clear Channel Radio
RichmondWRVA-AM 1140News/Talk--Clear Channel Radio
RichmondWRVQ-FM 94.5CHR--Clear Channel Radio
RichmondWRXL-FM 102.1Alternative--Clear Channel Radio
RichmondWTVR-FM 98.1Light RockSmooth Jazz-Clear Channel Radio
Roanoke-LynchburgWVTF-FM 89.1NPR/ClsclBBC News/NPRExponential RadioVirginia Tech Foundation

HD Radio Terminology

An introduction to the new language surrounding HD Radio.

AES/EBU: Abbreviation for Audio Engineering Society/European Broadcast Union. Used to refer to a digital audio encoding standard that is officially designated as AES3.

artifacts: The undesired noise effects from digitizing an audio signal. Artifacts can be caused by poor encoding methods or by multiple encoding/decoding processes.




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