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IBOC Update - Jan. 26, 2005
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NASB to Host DRM in Mexico City
The National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters (NASB) will be hosting a DRM symposium along with the High Frequency Coordination Conference (HFCC) in Mexico City, Feb. 7-11. The HFCC coordinates the transmission schedules of about 60 organizations worldwide, and promotes the efficient and economical use of HF broadcast spectrum worldwide.
The upcoming HFCC is a biannual event that provides an opportunity for representatives of world broadcasting organizations and the Mexican government to learn more about DRM specifications for IBOC digital broadcasting on frequencies formerly reserved for AM services. Mexico is said to be evaluating both DRM and Ibiquity's HD specifications and performance before making any formal policy decisions concerning MW domestic IBOC digital broadcasting.
According to Doug Garlinger, president of the NASB, the conference was scheduled in Mexico City after rejecting Miami as a potential venue due to U.S. Visa restrictions on attendees from some of the HFCC's member nations. Garlinger noted that the conference has only been held in the America's twice before, the first being in Mexico City in 1948, and more recently in Montreal.
Those interested in the conference can learn more at: www.hfcc.org
Study: Digital Radio Gaining Ground, U.S. IBOC Awareness Lags
Digital satellite radio will have impressive growth in its subscriber base during the next several years in the United States, with three million net new subscribers annually in the United States alone through 2008. According to strategic marketing research firm In-Stat, a recent survey of U.S. consumers indicates a growing awareness of digital satellite radio services. Half of the survey's respondents had heard of satellite radio, and felt they had a good idea as to what it offers–but significantly fewer were familiar with HD Radio.
"Price is still a barrier for many consumers, particularly with new HD Radio receivers," said Michelle Abraham, In-Stat Analyst. "Most consumers want to spend less than $200, and although satellite radio receivers are readily available for less than $100, HD radio receiver prices must decline before they are of interest to many consumers."
The In-Stat research also found that:
The report, "Digital Radio: Who Is Tuning In?" (#IN0401188ME), provides five-year unit shipment, ASP and revenue forecasts for digital terrestrial and digital satellite radios (including DMB receivers that are not integrated into mobile phones). The forecasts are provided for the Americas, Europe and Asia. To purchase the complete report visit: www.instat.com.
BE to Host HD Radio Seminar at NAB2005
Broadcast Electronics has announced its fourth annual Las Vegas HD Radio seminar, to be held Saturday, April 16, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The Las Vegas date typically draws the largest attendance for the seminar, which is offered by the company at different venues and dates across the country.
This year's seminar at NAB2005 will see BE's educational rollout of HD Radio continue with practical solutions for conversion, as well as the latest in transmission and studio technology. As in past years, the seminar will provide a forum for broadcaster discussion of field-tested HD Radio conversion techniques and new developments advancing HD Radio.
Among the topics to be covered this year:
Registration for the seminar is free. It will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Room N-116. E-mail registrations may be made at HDR@bdcast.com. Additional information is available at www.bdcast.com/nab/2005/HD_Radio_Seminar.html
Sirius Licenses Digital Fountain Meta-Content Technology
Terrestrial IBOC digital broadcasters are hopeful that HD Radio's PAD and non-PAD data applications might provide them a competitive leg up on satellite radio. But competitors may be disappointed to learn that Sirius Satellite Radio has signed a licensing agreement to use Digital Fountain's Meta-Content technology in upcoming products. Sirius has licensed Digital Fountain's latest generation of technology, Raptor, which is a forward error correction (FEC) technology.
Meta-Content technology claims to allow for efficient data reception when devices receive data at random and intermittent intervals, as is often the case with automotive receivers. For example, when using Meta-Content technology to receive a broadcast of a file, devices need only collect any set of packets approximately equal in length to the original data package to instantly and perfectly recreate the original data. Because there is no need to worry about which packets any particular receiver collects, the data is received quickly and reassembled accurately, even amidst intermittent reception schedules and frequent broadcast interruptions, say proponents of the system.
Raptor codes are said to be rateless, meaning there is no limit on the amount of unique encoded data that can be generated. Also, the codes have the property that encoding and decoding calculation requirements are linear with respect to the size of the source data. This contrasts to conventional coding technologies where calculation requirements increase at an accelerating rate with larger size.
Sirius says it hopes to eventually have the technology integrated into all receiver products licensed by the company.
Ibiquity Lauds IBOC Marketing Efforts of Infinity Outlets
Ibiquity Digital honored three Infinity Broadcasting radio stations last week at Infinity's Broadcasting Management Conference in Miami. HD Radio Innovator Awards were issued to Detroit's WVMV for "Best HD Radio Promos," Los Angeles' KROQ for "Best HD Radio Imaging" and Seattle's KBKS for the "First HD Radio Promotion with a Retailer" within the Infinity Broadcasting family.
"2005 is the year of HD Radio," said Robert Struble, president of Ibiquity Digital, while presenting the awards. "We are fortunate to work with these outstanding radio stations. We felt it important to recognize their great enthusiasm and creativity in promoting AM and FM's move to digital. They have successfully begun the process of generating broad consumer awareness of...HD Radio technology."
WVMV General Manager Deb Kenyon and Program Director Tom Sleeker; KROQ General Manager Trip Reeb and Program Director Kevin Weatherly; KBKS General Manager Dave McDonald and Program Director Mike Preston; and other staff members accepted the awards on behalf of their stations.
"Over the next 18 months, as the radio broadcasting industry executes its plans to drastically increase the promotion of HD Radio, we will see more and more stations receiving these honors," Struble predicted.
You can hear the promos at: http://beradio.com/media/0105/KROQ.mp3
Eye on IBOC
Cheeseheads Get First Taste of IBOC
Milwaukee-based News radio 620 WTMJ and 94.5 WKTI are the first broadcast outlets in the state of Wisconsin to feature HD Radio transmission, according to their owner Journal Broadcast Group.
"HD radio technology is yet another upgrade in service for our advertisers and listeners here in Milwaukee," said Jon Schweitzer, senior vice-president and general manager WTMJ/WKTI, "As the first stations in Wisconsin...we are ahead of the curve."
Journal Broadcast Group owns 38 radio stations and seven TV stations in 11 states and operates an additional TV station under a local marketing agreement. Journal Broadcast Group is the broadcast arm of Journal Communications, a company with interests in publishing, broadcasting, telecommunications and printing services.
U.S. Broadcasters May Market Music Downloads via IBOC
According to a recent story by Reuter's news service, radio broadcasters worldwide are examining technology and business models that may soon allow listeners to click, listen and buy the tunes they hear on their favorite radio stations. Radio conglomerates like Clear Channel may join technology companies and satellite radio firms aiming to launch such services within 18 to 24 months, say industry insiders.
"We're looking at a lot of different things. Downloads are definitely on the list," Jeff Littlejohn, executive vice president of distribution development at Clear Channel, told Reuters.
Conventional radio broadcasters are leaving no stone unturned in their search to boost non- traditional revenues, particularly since slow sales growth has hurt radio stocks over the last year. Adding insult to injury is the perception that younger listeners are drifting away to Ipods and satellite radio services.
"Despite the buzz surrounding satellite radio, I believe Ipods are a bigger threat (to radio broadcasters), because you have a larger number of people with an alternative source of music," says Jeff Smulyan, CEO of radio group owner Emmis.
Smulyan and other CEOs draw little comfort from the fact that several patents filed by XM Satellite Radio reveal early plans to develop music downloading services and devices designed to capture a larger piece of the $32 billion recorded music industry.
But while satellite broadcasters try to position themselves in a way that sets them apart from conventional radio and Ipods alike, they, like Apple, seek to redefine the way consumers buy and listen to music by controlling the distribution channels and the hardware. Radio broadcasters, on the other hand, abandoned such a model almost 70 years ago in favor of creating content and selling advertising.
But traditional radio models may be changing soon, as Clear Channel and at least 21 other American radio ownership groups commit to converting their stations to carry IBOC digital broadcast signals, a move that positions them to debut new services and products in the near future. Champions of the new technology say that in two years almost 90 percent of American consumer's will have access to IBOC digital signals and second generation receivers that will allow FM IBOC stations to deliver multiple digital program channels over their current radio spectrum while providing a broad range of new data services.
Yet music downloads are only one piece of the emerging revenue opportunities that IBOC presents, according to Ibiquity CEO Bob Struble. As radio stations convert to the HD Radio standard, they'll develop new revenue in services and digital products to offset the current reliance on advertising revenue. "All the relevant parties are looking at those types of opportunities," Struble said recently, adding that the ability to actually buy a song via a radio receiver is about 18 months to two years away.
But while the buzz now surrounding downloading may be getting broadcasters attention, some say the underlying economics are less than sexy.
"We don't think the business model associated with downloads is nearly as attractive as adding additional audio channels," said Clear Channels's Littlejohn. Indeed, the sizzle of potential profits fades when a record label claims more than half a songs $.99 price, while credit card transaction fees and technology investments soak up much of the remainder.
While digital music proponents enthusiastically point to Apple's Itunes' sales of 250 million songs to date, that company's executives point out that the distribution arm has returned only modest profits. What actually drove Apple to record-breaking quarterly profits last year was sales of its hardware–a business category over which radio broadcasters currently have little control.
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 will look at various states and list the stations that are making the transition.
|KBIA-FM 91.3||Classical||Columbia||University of Missouri||No|
|KCUR-FM 89.3||Nws/Tlk/Inf||Kansas City||University of Missouri||No|
|KATZ-FM 100.3||HpHop/RhyBl||St. Louis||Clear Channel Radio||Yes|
|KFUO-AM 850||Religion||St. Louis||Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod||Yes|
|KMJM-FM 104.9||Urban AC||St. Louis||Clear Channel Radio||Yes|
|KSD-FM 93.7||Country||St. Louis||Clear Channel Radio||Yes|
|KWMU-FM 90.7||Nws/Tlk/Inf||St. Louis||University of Missouri||No|
|KTBG-FM 90.9||AAA||Warrensburg||Central Missouri State University||No|
HD Radio Terminology
EWG: Evaluation Working Group of the NRSC DAB Subcommittee.
Longley-Rice: A model used to predict the long-term median transmission loss over irregular terrain that is applied to predicting signal strength at one or more locations. Longley-Rice computations are employed by the FCC allocations rules for FM stations to predict signal strength contours and by propagation modeling software to predict signal strengths in a two-dimensional grid on a map. The FCC implementation of Longley-Rice computations employs average terrain computations and an assumed 30-ft receive antenna height.
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