Digital Radio Update - August 23, 2006


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Index:

  • HD Radio Alliance Hails Multicast Growth
  • Polk I-Sonic Arrives
  • RF Modulator Issues Won’t Go Away for Sirius, XM
  • Apple: Ipod Integration Nearly Ubiquitous in Autos
  • Aftermarket HD Radio Converters May Hit Price Point Bull's-eye
  • IBOC by State:Ohio
  • BBC Ponders Receiver for MP3 Players
  • An Introduction to the New Language Surrounding HD Radio

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    News

    HD Radio Alliance Hails Multicast Growth
    The HD Digital Radio Alliance has announced that 18 new local markets will begin HD2 multicast programming this fall, marking a third wave of stations rolling out alternate program channels under the group’s format-selection program. An alliance press release claims that U.S. radio owners are now in the process of launching 140 additional HD2 channels, bringing the total markets served by HD2 multicasts to 68, all of which are in the top 100 markets. In total, more than 600 radio stations nationwide belonging to alliance members now offer HD2 multicast programming.

    “We’re even surprised by how fast this is moving,” said Peter Ferrara, alliance president. “It’s only been eight months since the alliance was formed and we are seeing HD digital radio broadcasts being launched at a much faster pace than expected. “

    CBS Radio will add multicasts in the Austin, TX, Buffalo, NY, Rochester, NY, and West Palm Beach, FL, markets. Currently, 85 of the company’s 179 stations are broadcasting in HD Radio, with more than half that number currently multicasting.

    Greater Media plans to add new HD2 multicast channels at WDHA-FM and WMGQ-FM in New Jersey, followed by WRAT-FM and WJRZ-FM, also in NJ.

    Meanwhile, industry giant Clear Channel Radio will launch multicasting in 18 additional markets. The number of HD2 stations that Clear Channel is slated to air now totals 269 in 66 markets. Clear Channel already has 300 stations offering their primary broadcasts in HD Radio. The new channels will also be made available at the company's HD2 streaming site www.clearchannelmusic.com/hdradio/ as they go live.

    A master list of multicast HD Radio stations by market is available on the alliance’s website at www.hdradio.com.


    Business

    Polk I-Sonic Arrives
    The first shipments of Polk Audio's HD Radio-equipped I-Sonic entertainment system have left the building. The first orders filled were those of radio broadcasters who had ordered the units for monitoring and promotional use, followed by shipments to Tweeter Home Entertainment, a national chain of consumer electronics stores. According to Polk, supply will be tight going into the fall.

    "We ask our customers for a little more patience," said Polk's Senior VP of Marketing Dan Hodgson. "Given the tremendous response, we have more orders than we can fill in the short- to medium-term. However, production is going smoothly and we are confident we will be able to…meet demand this holiday season."

    MSRP on the I-Sonic, which combines a digital HD Radio tuner, DVD/CD player and XM Satellite Radio capability is $599 in the United States.


    RF Modulator Issues Won’t Go Away for Sirius, XM
    Despite attempts at a quick resolution, a controversy involving Siruis and XM continues to simmer through summers end, leaving some financial analysts with sweat-stained balance sheets. The controversy revolves around both companies' plug-and-play receivers that use analog FM modulators to connect with existing consumer stereos.

    The issue surfaced earlier this year when complaints from drivers whose broadcast FM receivers were captured by Sirius and XM modulators in nearby vehicles caused the FCC to scrutinize RF emissions from some of the most popular satellite receivers on the market. A number of units tested were found to exceed bandwidth and signal strength limits specified in title 47 CFR, Part 15. That, in turn, led to questions regarding FCC certification compliance and holds on the shipment of some receiver models.

    The NAB added gravity to the controversy by filing a complaint citing numerous reports of interference caused to licensed broadcasters by the devices.

    Sirius and XM, working closely with their receiver vendors, have tried to bring a quick close to the controversy with redesigns and retrofit kits, but some of the certification issues remain with the FCC, and that’s making investment analysts at firms like Merrill Lynch nervous, according to an Aug. 5 Bloomberg News article.

    Authors Chris Stern and Don Jeffrey quote one analyst, Morgan Joseph and Company’s David Kestenbaum, as worrying that “this could be a huge issue come Christmas...it's a problem for both (XM and Sirius) of them."


    Apple: Ipod Integration Nearly Ubiquitous in Autos
    Apple is teaming with Ford, GM and Mazda to deliver Ipod integration across the majority of their brands and models. With the addition of the newest models, Apple claims that more than 70 percent of 2007-model U.S. automobiles will be fully Ipod integrated.

    “We’re delighted that Ford, General Motors and Mazda will support Ipod connectivity in nearly all of their new models,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide Ipod Product Marketing. “General Motors alone is making it available on all 56 of its models, representing millions of cars and trucks.”

    A typical Ipod integration packages allows drivers to play their Ipod through the OEM car audio system, using the car’s multifunction controls to select their music using artist, album, playlist or shuffle songs, as well as to skip tracks and playlists.


    Eye on IBOC

    Aftermarket HD Radio Converters May Hit Price Point Bull's-eye
    Talk to media academics, retail experts and market research professionals about what it takes to get consumers to bite off new media technology, and they’re likely to say the same thing--put it on the market for $99 or less and your chance of success increases substantially. HD Radio is no exception, and the $99 price point has become something akin to the Holy Grail among HD Radio broadcaster and vendor proponents.

    Unfortunately, receiver manufacturers may have to wait a while to see the kind of high volume demand or for HD Radio product needed to make $99 per-unit pricing a reality. And industry subsidization, a practice used by XM and Sirius to bring the price of satellite radio receivers below $100, is not a realistic option in a free broadcast environment with thousands of station owners.

    Yet highly affordable HD Radio for the car may not be far off. A little-known company called Dice Electronics announced last year that it intended to introduce and market an aftermarket HDRadio converter that would exploit unused CD changer input ports present on many late-model OEM car stereos. While Dice has yet to ship a production model, they are now successfully marketing a similar product that allows Ipod users to hook up to their OEM auto sound system for under $60.

    Better still, Dice now says that they may have their “HD Dice” product shipping as early as this Thanksgiving. Though the company has yet to publicly commit to a MSRP for the product, there has been considerable speculation that it may be able to break through the pivotal three-figure barrier.

    And the potential impact of low-cost HD Radio converters hasn’t been lost on industry observers. A recent Reuters article on HD Radio cites the HD Digital Radio Alliance as betting that HD Radio converters will be the spearhead that succeeds in breaking up a logjam of auto manufacturers still unwilling to include OEM HD Radio as an option or as standard equipment.

    For broadcasters committing hundreds of thousands of dollars per station for HD Radio and multicast conversions, a little stocking stuffer like Dice’s converter might be just the thing to make Christmas 2006 merry indeed.


    IBOC Across America

    IBOC by State: Ohio
    Ibiquity has a list of stations that have licensed HD Radio technology. IBOC by state will look at various states and list the stations that are making the transition.

    MarketStationMain FormatHD2 FormatHD3 FormatOwner

    Akron

    WKSU-FM 89.7

    Classical

     

     

    Kent State University

    Cincinnati

    WAQZ-FM 97.3

    Alternative

    Extreme Rock & Hip Hop 

     

    CBS Radio

    Cincinnati

    WCKY-AM 1530

    Talk

     

     

    Clear Channel Radio

    Cincinnati

    WEBN-FM 102.7

    Rock

    New Alternative 

     

    Clear Channel Radio

    Cincinnati

    WGUC-FM 90.9

    Classical

    Jazz 

     

    Cincinnati Public Radio, Inc.

    Cincinnati

    WIZF-FM 100.9

    Urban

     

     

    Radio One Inc.

    Cincinnati

    WKFS-FM 107.1

    CHR

    Classic Hip Hop 

     

    Clear Channel Radio

    Cincinnati

    WKRQ-FM 101.9

    Hot AC

    My HD 

     

    CBS Radio

    Cincinnati

    WLW-AM 700

    Nws/Tlk/Spt

     

     

    Clear Channel Radio

    Cincinnati

    WMOJ-FM 94.9

    R&B Oldies

     

     

    Cumulus Media Partners

    Cincinnati

    WMUB-FM 88.5

    Nws/Tlk/Jaz

    Jazz 

    BBC World Service 

    Miami University

    Cincinnati

    WOFX-FM 92.5

    Clsc Rock

    AAA - The Summit 

     

    Clear Channel Radio

    Cincinnati

    WRRM-FM 98.5

    AC/SftRk

     

     

    Cumulus Media Partners

    Cincinnati

    WSAI-AM 1360

    Sports

     

     

    Clear Channel Radio

    Cincinnati

    WVMX-FM 94.1

    Hot AC

    Urban Variety 

     

    Clear Channel Radio

    Cincinnati

    WYGY-FM 96.5

    Country

     

     

    Cumulus Media Partners

    Cleveland

    WAKS-FM 96.5

    Top 40

    All New Hits 

     

    Clear Channel Radio

    Cleveland

    WCLV-FM 104.9

    Classical

     

     

    Cleveland Classical Radio

    Cleveland

    WJMO-AM 1490

    Gospel

     

     

    Radio One Inc.

    Cleveland

    WMVX-FM 106.5

    Hot AC

    Adult Alternative 

     

    Clear Channel Radio

    Cleveland

    WNCX-FM 98.5

    Clsc Rock

    Spanish CHR 

     

    CBS Radio

    Cleveland

    WNWV-FM 107.3

    Smooth Jazz

     

     

    Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting Company

    Cleveland

    WQAL-FM 104.1

    Hot AC

    My HD 

     

    CBS Radio

    Cleveland

    WXRK-FM 92.3

    Rock

    Rock/Rap Hybrid 

     

    CBS Radio

    Columbus

    WAZU-FM 107.1

    New Rock

     

     

    CBS Radio

    Columbus

    WBWR-FM 105.7

    Rock

     

     

    Clear Channel Radio

    Columbus

    WCKX-FM 107.5

    Urban

     

     

    Radio One Inc.

    Columbus

    WCOL-FM 92.3

    Country

    All New Country 

     

    Clear Channel Radio

    Columbus

    WOSU-AM 820

    News/Talk

     

     

    The Ohio State University

    Columbus

    WOSU-FM 89.7

    Classical

    News/Talk 

     

    The Ohio State University

    Columbus

    WSNY-FM 94.7

    Lite Rock

     

     

    Saga

    Columbus

    WTPG-AM 1230

    Sprts/Talk

     

     

    Clear Channel Radio

    Columbus

    WTVN-AM 610

    Nws/Tlk/Spt

     

     

    Clear Channel Radio

    Dayton

    WDKF-FM 94.5

    Urban

    Artist Channel 

     

    Clear Channel Radio

    Dayton

    WDPR-FM 88.1

    Classical

     

     

    Dayton Public Radio, Inc.

    Dayton

    WIZE-AM 1340

    Adlt Stndrd

     

     

    Clear Channel Radio

    Dayton

    WLQT-FM 99.9

    Lite AC

    Oldies 70's 60's 

     

    Clear Channel Radio

    Dayton

    WMMX-FM 107.7

    Hot AC

    Christian AC 

     

    Clear Channel Radio

    Dayton

    WTUE-FM 104.7

    Rock

    Deep Tracks & Live Rock 

     

    Clear Channel Radio

    Dayton

    WXEG-FM 103.9

    Alternative

    All New Alternative 

     

    Clear Channel Radio

    Geneva

    WKKY-FM 104.7

    Country

     

     

    Music Express Broadcasting Corp. of Northeast Ohio

    Kent

    WNRK-FM 90.7

    Classical

     

     

    Kent State University

    Toledo

    WKKO-FM 99.9

    Country

     

     

    Cumulus Broadcasting, Inc.

    Toledo

    WRQN-FM 93.5

    Oldies

     

     

    Cumulus Broadcasting, Inc.

    Toledo

    WRWK-FM 106.5

    Alternative

     

     

    Cumulus Broadcasting, Inc.

    Toledo

    WTWR-FM 98.3

    CHR

     

     

    Cumulus Broadcasting, Inc.

    Toledo

    WWWM-FM 105.5

    Hot AC

     

     

    Cumulus Broadcasting, Inc.

    Products

    BBC Ponders Receiver for MP3 Players
    In a move that marks a pragmatic approach to the way people are now selecting media platforms, the BBC is working to develop a digital radio module that will plug into the front end of popular MP3 players, including Apple’s wildly successful Ipod.

    "It's important for to us to make sure that people can listen to digital radio on their own terms," said a BBC spokesman. "We have a duty to make sure digital radio is relevant and, clearly, portable MP3 players are a massive area of growth."

    The BBC’s plug-in digital tuner project, now undergoing a feasibility study, was spurred by research indicating that ownership of MP3 players has doubled since 2003. One study by market research firm Ipsos reported that 20 percent of Americans over the age of 12 own one of the portable players.

    The BBC says that the plug-in receiver might also be produced in versions designed to interface directly with mobile phones and non-DAB compatible car stereos. No potential technology partners in the venture were named, and the BBC has said that even though it “would like to get something out sooner rather than later," no timetable for a production date has yet been established.


    HD Radio Terminology

    The language surrounding HD Radio

    pulse-shaping function: A time-domain pulse superimposed on the OFDM symbol to improve its spectral characteristics.

    scrambling: The process of summing the input data bits with a pseudo-random bit stream to randomize the time domain bit stream.




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