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Digital Radio Update - April 25, 2007
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- Morgan Steps Down at NRSC
- WZLX First to Offer MPEG Surround
- DRE Handshakes with China on Olympic Distribution
- Best Buy to Offer HD Radio Nationally
- Dadian Joins Ibiquity Broadcast Sales
- Ibiquity, NDS Launch Conditional Access for HD Radio
- BE, Harris, Ibiquity Demo EPG
- HD Radio--An Accepted Reality
- Ibiquity Launches Next HD Radio Rebate Program
- IBOC by State: Tennessee
- An Introduction to the New Language Surrounding HD Radio
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Morgan Steps Down at NRSC
The National Radio Systems Committee (NRSC) has announced the retirement of Charles T. Morgan as chair of the industry standards group--a position he occupied for more than 20 years. Milford K. Smith Jr., vice president of radio engineering for Greater Media will replace him.
Smith's appointment means that he will vacate his current position as co-chair of the NRSC's Digital Radio Broadcasting (DRB) Subcommittee. Andy Laird, vice president for Journal Broadcast Group is expected to fill the slot.
Morgan, Smith and Laird have all been extensively involved with the NRSC's development of IBOC digital radio voluntary standards.
WZLX First to Offer MPEG Surround
WZLX, 100.7 in Boston, will be serving classic rock programming in 5.1 MPEG surround audio service this week on its main HD Radio channel, according to a press release issued at NAB2007. The CBS-owned outlet will begin transmitting selected content in 5.1 using an Axia Audio routing system to handle the multi-channel studio infrastructure, along with a coder package provided by Fraunhofer and Cleveland-based Telos Systems.
According to Telos sources, receiver manufacturers Bose, Boston Acoustics and Tivoli will monitor and evaluate the WZLX broadcasts on prototype receivers provided by Fraunhofer. The surround system was on display and demonstrated during NAB2007 at the Telos booth.
DRE Handshakes with China on Olympic Distribution
Digital Radio Express (DRE) has confirmed that the People's Republic of China will use its FM Extra digital subcarrier technology to distribute special English language radio coverage of the 2008 Olympic games. The plan calls for adding the DRE subcarrier to existing government FM stations in time for next year's games.
The English language evening recap broadcasts would be picked up on special receivers available to tourists in designated shops for a price of about $125. DRE demonstrated some of the new receivers, to be produced by Chinese consumer electronics giant TCL, on the show floor at NAB2007.
Best Buy to Offer HD Radio Nationally
Best Buy has joined forces with the HD Digital Radio Alliance to accelerate consumer adoption of HD Radio by offering digital radio products at all of its 832 national retail outlets. The HD Radio launch is to be supported by the latest phase of the alliance's previously announced radio-advertising campaign.
The retailer's broadening HD Radio product emphasis will be supported by a print ad based consumer education effort and comprehensive in-store, point-of-sale programs featuring branding and product displays.
With an initial offering of the JVC KD-HDR1 mobile HD Radio receiver and the Visteon Zoom, Best Buy is the first national retailer to make HD Radio technology available to customers throughout its entire chain. Earlier this year, Wal-Mart announced it would carry HD Radio products, but only in select markets.
Dadian Joins Ibiquity Broadcast Sales
Ibiquity Digital has hired Paul Dadian as broadcast sales manager. Dadian will be responsible for working with mid-tier groups and independent station owners as they upgrade to the HD Radio system. He is the third new hire by the Ibiquity broadcast team in the past six months.
Dadian previously served as broadcast sales supervisor at Harris Broadcast Division in Mason, OH.
Ibiquity, NDS Launch Conditional Access for HD Radio
One item catching the attention of broadcasters at NAB2007 was Ibiquity Digital's debut of the Radioguard conditional content system for HD Radio. Designed by NDS, a firm with credentials in secure content delivery, conditional access is essentially a digital content encryption/decryption system designed to be remotely addressable at the individual receiver level. NDS currently has similar proprietary content management technology deployed in more than 70 million TV set-top boxes around the world.
The system's decoding layer is being introduced in two phases. By September 2007, NDS plans to offer a discrete security chip that will add conditional access capability when used with existing HD Radio chip sets. By April 2008, NDS and Ibiquity expect to have that capability imbedded within HD Radio chip sets themselves.
Once NDS Radioguard is deployed in digital radios, broadcasters can offer pay-per-listen options for live concerts and events, opt-in events sponsored by advertisers and private channels for specific needs, such as radio reading services or premium sports content.
The system recently underwent field trials at WUSF-FM, Tampa, FL, where testing began as part of a collaboration between the station, the International Association of Audio Information Services, Ibiquity, Harris and NPR Labs. According to NDS, the March 2007 tests successfully demonstrated that target receivers could be remotely enabled to receive reading service for the blind programming.
At least one observer questioned whether widespread adoption of subscription services by radio broadcasters might erode consumer interest in HD Radio technology, particularly as broadcasters pitch HD Radio's ability to offer consumers additional channels for free, as opposed to subscription-based satellite radio. Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin recently went so far as to suggest that conditional access availability for HD Radio was evidence that a proposed merger between Sirius and XM would not effectively monopolize subscription radio services.
Even so, interest in the subscription-enabling technology was reported to be strong among commercial and non-commercial radio organizations as they try to develop a new business model around HD Radio's FM multicast capability.
BE, Harris, Ibiquity Demo EPG
Broadcast Electronics and Harris, in cooperation with Ibiquity Digital, demonstrated an electronic program guide for HD Radio broadcasting at their booths at NAB2007. The demonstration featured program schedules of 20 HD Radio program channels in the Las Vegas area April 16 through April 19. A receiver platform with a touch-screen interface displayed station names, frequencies, HD channels and automatically advanced through EPG schedules by station or by time.
Eye on IBOC
HD Radio--An Accepted Reality
If anything remarkable emerged from this year's NAB convention from a radio perspective, it was simply a lack of truly remarkable new things on the show floor. Sure, there was a conditional access system for HD Radio, a few more NIC jacks on now-familiar products, and still another way of carrying surround signals over existing broadcast chains--but there really weren't any standouts in the way of new technology introductions.
Filling what might have become a vacuum was instead a sense that radio's transformation to a multi-faceted digital platform is now well underway. Most of what radio people were looking at were improved ways to create, brand and distribute products made possible by HD Radio's widening roll-out. New, higher efficiency transmission systems, easier to use data importing systems, better monitoring and instrumentation, and an underlying desire to pull all the pieces together so that broadcasters can re-purpose their radio facilities to improve their long term viability.
For the first time at NAB, most broadcasters seemed comfortable that consumers actually had some choice in digital radios, and that they were finding them readily accessible. With most of the large radio groups leading the way, what had once seemed speculative investment in station conversions is now beginning to look the norm.
There are still underlying anxieties, such as what is it ultimately going to cost to program multicasts in a way that will stimulate consumers to buy radios and advertisers to buy time. And, of course, there were ruminations regarding the RIAA's drive to increase the cost of programming copyrighted recordings on every digital path.
But by the time the forklifts took back the show floor, NAB2007 seemed best defined by a mood of acceptance that HD Radio is really here, and that it's time to get on with redefining radio in the 21st century--and perhaps that's not a bad place to be.
Ibiquity Launches Next HD Radio Rebate Program
Columbia, MD - Apr 25, 2007 - A new HD Radio Rebate Program in celebration of moms, dads and grads was announced that effectively reduces HD Radio receiver prices by $40. The program applies to most HD Radio receivers -- from tabletops to car connect adapters -- and runs from April 29 through July 3, 2007. The rebate certificate is available at www.hdradio.com/rebate beginning April 29.
National retailers of HD Radio products include Amazon.com, Best Buy, Circuit City, Costco.com, Crutchfield, Radio Shack, The Sharper Image, Tweeter and Wal-mart. There are also hundreds of other regional and specialty retailers who carry HD Radio products.
The following HD Radio products are eligible for the $40 rebate:
IBOC Across America
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.
|Market||Station||HD1 Format||HD2 Format||Owner|
|Chattanooga||WUTC-FM 88.1||News/Info||-||University of Tennessee|
|Knoxville||WWST-FM 102.1||CHR/Dance||-||Journal Broadcast Group|
|Knoxville||WKHT-FM 104.5||CHR/Rhythmic||-||Journal Broadcast Group|
|Knoxville||WMYU-FM 93.1||Hot AC||-||Journal Broadcast Group|
|Knoxville||WUOT-FM 91.9||Classical||-||University of Tennessee|
|Memphis||WDIA-AM 1070||Oldies/Blk/Talk||-||Clear Channel Radio|
|Memphis||WMFS-FM 92.9||Alternative||-||Entercom Communications|
|Memphis||WRVR-FM 104.5||Soft AC||Blues||Entercom Communications|
|Memphis||WSNA-FM 94.1||Rhythmic/AC||Comedy||Entercom Communications|
|Memphis||WREC-AM 600||News/Talk/Info||-||Clear Channel Radio|
|Memphis||WHRK-FM 97.1||Urban||Classic Hip Hop||Clear Channel Radio|
|Memphis||WHAL-FM 95.7||Inspiration||Hispanic||Clear Channel Radio|
|Memphis||WEGR-FM 102.7||Classic Rock||Deep Cuts||Clear Channel Radio|
|Memphis||KJMS-FM 101.1||Urban AC||Smooth Jazz||Clear Channel Radio|
|Nashville||WPLN-AM 1430||News/Talk/Cls||-||Nashville Public Radio|
|Nashville||WPLN-FM 90.3||Classical/News||News||Nashville Public Radio|
|Nashville||WNRQ-FM 105.9||Classic Rock||Rock - Deep Rock Tracks||Clear Channel Radio|
|Nashville||WNFN-FM 106.7||Sports||-||Cumulus Broadcasting|
|Nashville||WVNS-FM 102.5||Hot AC||-||Cromwell Group|
|Nashville||WQQK-FM 92.1||Urban AC/R&B Oldies||-||Cumulus Broadcasting|
|Nashville||WLAC-AM 1510||News/Talk/Sports||-||Clear Channel Radio|
|Nashville||WRVW-FM 107.5||CHR||CHR - Al l New||Clear Channel Radio|
|Nashville||WSIX-FM 97.9||Country||Country - All New||Clear Channel Radio|
|Nashville||WUBT-FM 101.1||Urban||Jazz - Smooth Jazz||Clear Channel Radio|
There are 25 stations in the Volunteer State broadcasting 36 HD Radio channels.
HD Radio Terminology
AAS: Advanced Application Services. A class of data services being developed for HD Radio's ancillary data capabilities. Some of the services that have already been demonstrated include traffic reports with mapping features, both commercial and non-commercial expanded messaging services, as well as timely weather and other public safety bulletins.
ACR-MOS: absolute category rating-mean opinion score. A method for subjectively testing audio quality where participants are presented with sound samples, one at a time, and are asked to grade them on a five-point scale. For the NRSC FM IBOC tests, the MOS scale used was 5 = excellent, 4 = good, 3 = fair, 2 = poor, 1 = bad.
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