Digital Radio Update - June 6, 2007


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News

BE to offer HD Radio Seminars on the Web
Broadcast Electronics (BE) will offer broadcasters its HD Radio seminar series as a distance-learning program via the Web this summer. The online courses, which will run live from June 21 through Aug. 2, will cover opportunities in messagecasting, multicasting and webcasting, including practical HD Radio workshops for engineers as well as managers. The real-time courses can be accessed anywhere by PC users with a broadband connection.

Registration, which began June 1, is limited to 25 participants per session; presentations will be offered twice in the same week to give as many broadcasters as possible an opportunity to participate.

HD Radio topics include separate workshops for engineers and managers, a session on creativity, revenue and technology, as well as specific sessions on messagecasting, network/STL issues and transmitters.

The webinars are free of charge to qualified participants as part of BE's continuing HD Radio education program, including technical seminars at trade shows and annual engineering consultant training.

For more information and registration, go to www.bdcast.com/bulletins/2007HDSummerSchool/index.php.


FCC Issues Second IBOC R&O
The FCC released its Second Report and Order, First Order on Reconsideration, and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on digital radio broadcasting last week. The 74-page document provides a detailed explanation of the new rules approved on March 22, along with an account of how those decisions were conceived.

As reported by Digital Radio Update in March, the new rules touch on a variety of sensitive issues, the highlights of which follow:

  • AM stations permitted to operate IBOC digital hybrid operation on a 24-hour basis. The Chief of the Media Bureau is authorized to resolve any adjacent channel interference resulting from nighttime operation complaints where and when they arise.
  • FM stations are permitted to operate in extended hybrid mode allowing for a maximum data throughput of 147kb/s at their discretion. FM digital broadcasters will be required to carry one digital simulcast of their main analog channel audio, but will be permitted broad discretion in how they allocate their remaining bandwidth for datacasting, multicasting and subscription services. Leasing bandwidth to third parties is permissible, but licensees remain responsible for all content.
  • FM translators, boosters and LPFMs are authorized for IBOC hybrid operation, where feasible, but conversion is not required when a parent station commences IBOC hybrid operation.
  • Digital retransmission of analog content is required for all stations. There is no requirement or timetable set for digital conversions, and full digital operation is not permitted--stations may only operate in analog/digital hybrid modes. Existing programming and operational statutory and regulatory requirements (i.e., EAS, public service, obscenity/indecency) are extended to all free DAB programming streams.
  • The commissioners also request comment as to whether the above requirements should apply to subscription services, noting that it has applied certain public interest obligations to other subscription services, including cable TV and satellite radio, pursuant to its authority to regulate subscription services ancillary to the regulation of broadcasting. While the commission tentatively concluded it should apply the requirements outlined above to subscription services offered by terrestrial radio stations, and that it has statutory authority to do so, it currently seeks comment on the issue.

    Furthermore, the commissioners delegated authority to the Media Bureau to issue public notices, seek public input, and review the range of permissible IBOC operations as circumstances warrant. After appropriate notice and comment, the staff is now "authorized to act on delegated authority on implementing new IBOC notification procedures to cover new IBOC configurations." Expansion of the notification procedures is designed to allow stations "to implement digital operations without unnecessary delay."

    Also notable in this latest document were specific references to a number of petitions for reconsideration or rulemaking regarding the original IBOC rulemaking, all of which were dismissed or denied for a variety of reasons. The list included a petition by Glen Clark and Assoc., two by the Amherst Alliance (a low-power advocacy group), one by John Pavlica Jr., and two by AM maverick systems developer Leonard Kahn.

    But perhaps the most remarkable characteristic of this document is the detail with which the FCC explains not only its reasoning in reaching it's conclusions, but also provides insight to the political divisions still remaining between the Republican majority commissioners and Democrats Copps and Adelstein on a broad range of public interest issues.

    In sum, this document is a must-read for anyone with a stake or interest in digital radio. It can be downloaded as a PDF at hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-07-33A1.doc.


    Business

    Sony Releases HD Radio Products for Home, Car
    In a move that's bound to attract international attention, consumer electronics giant Sony has released a tabletop and an automotive HD Radio receiver platform. Seen by many as a key status conferral for Ibiquity's technology, Sony's move has been long awaited by HD Radio proponents in the United States.

    According to a May 29 Amy Gilroy article in Twice online, Sony plans to launch its new HD Radio product line with an aggressive pricing and marketing campaign. The company's new XDR-S3HD tabletop receiver is expected to ship in July and should retail for about $199, while the XT100 car adapter, designed to be used with the company's existing late-model car component control heads, will be priced at about $100. Both products are said to be multicast compatible.

    A Sony marketing spokesperson was quoted as saying that the company would accompany their product roll-out with a public education campaign regarding the advantages that HD Radio technology has to offer. "One of the challenges we think we need to overcome is that although people have heard of HD Radio, the understanding of it is light. We wish it were better." That official may have been referring to a recent Bridge Ratings survey suggesting that while more people have heard of HD Radio, proportionally fewer of those actually understand what it does for the consumer.

    Sony's HD Radio product line will be available online at www.sonystyle.com and at participating retailers nationwide.


    Multicasting Signs On in Philippines
    Radio Mindanao Network claims it is now the first HD Radio multicaster in the Philippines. DWKC 93.9 in Manila was the first commercial station in the country to broadcast with HD Radio technology as a limited test in 2006, but has now expanded its operation to include three HD Radio digital audio channels along with its pre-existing analog signal.

    Operating its facility in high-level combined hybrid mode with an existing 35kW analog transmitter, a new Nautel 1kW HD Radio transmitter, digital exciter, importer and exporter provide the digital signal component.

    The Radio Mindanao Network, founded by Henry R. Canoy in 1952, owns and operates more than 50 AM, FM and TV stations throughout the Philippines.


    AM HD Radio Debuts in Mexico
    Digital radio reached a new milestone in Mexico on May 26 as XEXL AM 690 began broadcasting an AM HD Radio hybrid signal. The test broadcast originated from a Broadcast Electronics (BE) 2.5 kW transmitter fitted with a BE ASI 10 HD Radio signal generator, transmitting from the mountain town of Patzcuaro in conjunction with the 71st convention of the Cámara Nacional de la Industria de Radio y Television (CIRT) in nearby Morelia.

    Convention attendees gathered at the XEXL's studios to listen to programming off-air via a variety of HD Radio receivers.

    The AM demonstration comes on the heels of Mexican government approval of HD Radio transmission for AM and FM stations located within 200 miles of the U.S./Mexico border. XEXL, located south of the HD Radio-authorized zone in the central Mexican state of Michoacan, is operating HD Radio under experimental authority from Cofetel, Mexico's broadcast regulatory agency, with an indefinite authorization for observation and measurement purposes.

    A BE spokesperson noted that about 170 station owners and engineers attended the inaugural event.

    About two-thirds of all licensed stations in Mexico operate on the AM band.


    New DAB Adapter for Ipods
    Ipod owners in the UK will soon be able to tune in to digital and analog broadcasts, thanks to a new plug-in accessory developed through a joint effort by Frontier Silicon and Roberts Radio.

    The first of-its-kind device, measuring 52.4mm x 32.0mm x 8.1mm, Frontier Silicon's Kino 2 DAB IC connects directly to a users Ipod, enabling users to listen to DAB or analog FM radio. It also offers remote control functionality to play, pause, fast-forward or rewind stored music files.

    Roberts plans to launch the product in October 2007 at an MSRP of about $100 US.


    IBOC Across America

    IBOC by State: Maryland

    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.

    MarketStationHD1 FormatHD2 FormatHD3 FormatOwner
    BaltimoreWHFS-FM 105.7TalkTrue Alternative-CBS Radio
    BaltimoreWIYY-FM 97.9AORClassic RockIndie RockHearst Radio
    BaltimoreWCAO-AM 600Gospel--Clear Channel Radio
    BaltimoreWWIN-FM 95.9Urban AC--Radio One
    BaltimoreWWMX-FM 106.5Hot ACTop 40/CHR-CBS Radio
    BaltimoreWSMJ-FM 104.3Smooth JazzWomen's Channel-Clear Channel Radio
    BaltimoreWQSR-FM 102.7JackSports Radio-CBS Radio
    BaltimoreWPOC-FM 93.1CountryFuture Country-Clear Channel Radio
    FrederickWFRE-FM 99.9Country--Clear Channel Radio
    FrederickWGYS-FM 103.9Classical--Bonneville International
    Salisbury-Ocean CityWAFL-FM 97.7AC--Delmarva Broadcasting

    There are 11 stations in Maryland broadcasting 18 HD Radio channels.


    HD Radio Terminology

    An introduction to the new language surrounding HD Radio.
    all-digital operation: Refers to FM IBOC operation that does not include the traditional analog composite base band signals. More robust and with more capacity than the hybrid system, this mode is currently envisioned as a migration point for broadcasters as analog FM broadcasting is eventually phased out.

    all-digital waveform: A transmitted waveform for modes composed entirely of digitally modulated subcarriers without an analog signal.


    Products

    Sangean Expands Adds HDT-1X to HD Radio Lineup
    Los Angeles - Jun 6, 2007 - Sangean has added the HDT-1X, an enhanced version of its component tuner, to its product line. The HDT-1X adds several features to the existing HDT-1. These include a S/PDIF optical output, forced analog mode to force the receiver into analog reception, a split-audio mode to provide digital audio in one channel and analog in the other and a rack-mount adapter.

    The HDT-1X uses the same display and enclosure as the HDT-1. Pre-orders are now being taken, with shipping expected in the middle of June. Sangean notes that the additions were based on input from users. A Field Report on the HDT-1 appeared in the June 2007 issue of Radio magazine.




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