IBOC Update - Feb 23, 2005


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Index:

  • EPG Standard Adopted For EUREKA-147 DAB
  • Study: Majority of Brits Aware of DAB
  • Radio Educacion Tests DRM in Mexico
  • Is Europe the Next Orbit for Satellite Radio?
  • No Sirius Under Apple’s Tree
  • GM Endorses Canadian Satellite Radio
  • Harris to Hold DRM Symposium in Romania
  • 3GSM 2005 News
  • Ibiquity Digital Extends Early-Adopter Discount Through June 2005
  • OMT Technologies Announces Ibiquity Licensing
  • BE HD Radio Seminar Visits Salt Lake City
  • CPB Unveils Next IBOC Conversion Grant Cycle
  • HD Radio Terminology
  • IBOC Across America

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    News

    EPG Standard Adopted For Eureka-147 DAB
    An Electronic Program Guide (EPG) standard for use with digital radio systems conforming to Eureka-147 DAB has been approved by the European Technical Standards Institute (ETSI).

    This new standard will enable broadcasters to send details of programming directly to listeners using EPG-enabled DAB radios. In its simplest form, the DAB EPG allows listeners to see what's on now and next, to search programs by genre or time, and to set an advanced timer record, in much the same way as personal video recorders like Tivo are used with television.

    With appropriately equipped receivers, listeners will be able to highlight program information on their radio display and listen in real time, record in real time or program recording at a later date. This new EPG standard will support download of as much as a week's worth of program schedules, which can be displayed in station or time/date order (depending on the capabilities of the DAB receiver). EPG data can also include a short description of each program, and allow for selecting station listings for scheduled-time recording. Radio groups in the UK, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands have been test broadcasting EPG data since 2004.

    The international EPG standard was developed by a special task force of the World DAB Forum (www.worlddab.org). It is available for download free of charge at www.webapp.etsi.org/workprogram/Report_WorkItem.asp?WKI_ID=21093.


    Study: Majority of Brits Aware of DAB
    According to recent research conducted by Ipsos RSL Omnibus on behalf of the Digital Radio Development Bureau (DRDB) in Great Britain, the number of consumers who say they are aware of that country’s DAB has increased 16 percent over the same period last year. Based on the latest data, taken in January, about 59 percent of the adult population – that’s 29 million people – have heard about DAB.

    DRDB Chief Executive Ian Dickens said, "Following record sales of DAB digital radios in 2004, it's not surprising that awareness has also gone up. Our goal is to sell 1.2 million radios in 2005, and an awareness level of nearly 60 percent is an encouraging starting point."


    Radio Educacion Tests DRM in Mexico
    The Mexican Ministry of Communications and Transportation has authorized the immediate commencement of a national Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) testing project, to be carried out by Radio Educacion, the country’s public, cultural and educational network. Jorge Rodriguez Castaneda, the ministry’s director general of radio and television systems, made the announcement at DRM’s recent symposium in Mexico City.

    The symposium featured a live broadcast of the actual switch of Radio Educacion from analog medium-wave/AM to DRM, as the testing process began.

    DRM members Harris and RIZ Transmitter were involved in preparations for the symposium broadcasts. Harris installed a DRM modulator board within a Harris DX50 transmitter, and RIZ installed a 200W SW DRM transmitter system on 25.620 MHz. Symposium attendees also heard DRM live on short-wave courtesy of DRM members Christian Vision (from Chile); Deutsche Welle (from French Guyana); HCJB (from Ecuador), RCI (from Canada), Radio Netherlands (from Bonaire); and TDF (from French Guyana).


    Business

    Is Europe the Next Orbit for Satellite Radio?
    An article in the Feb. 8 International Herald Tribune suggests that the possibility of bringing satellite radio to the heart of Europe is actively being explored. According to the newspaper’s sources, an official at French broadcast company TDF recently confirmed talks between Alcatel and SES Global over a possible joint venture during a recent industry conference in Paris.

    Alain Delorme, executive director of the radio division of TDF, said the company had been approached regarding the SES Global-Alcatel venture to discuss a possible local role in relaying signals into obstructed urban environments.

    Alcatel and SES Global declined to comment.

    Such a venture would have to overcome many obstacles to find success resembling that of U.S. satellite radio companies XM Satellite Radio and Sirius, noted Delorme, because market conditions in Europe are different than those in North America.

    Besides the obvious geographic and linguistic disparities, Delorme and other analysts question the willingness of European consumers to pay for subscription television and radio – a concept that Americans seem more readily able to accept.

    But despite such widespread skepticism, some industry observers believe that the potential financial rewards for succeeding with a European satellite radio service may simply be too strong of a temptation for telecommunication firms to resist.


    No Sirius Under Apple’s Tree
    Sirius Satellite Radio recently confirmed rumors that CEO Mel Karmazan had broached the concept of launching a digital radio service application for the Apple Ipod, but that Apple’s Steve Jobs apparently saw little advantage in combining the orbital broadcaster’s functionality into his own company’s device.

    Ipod pay-per-song downloading has shown impressive growth in the last year, and many radio broadcast executives are said to be pondering the possibilities for tapping into what is fast becoming a lucrative marketplace for music downloading.


    GM Endorses Canadian Satellite Radio
    According to a recent story in the business section of the Toronto Globe and Mail, General Motors of Canada’s President has put his company's support behind two Canadian applications to license and sell subscriptions to the satellite radio services XM and Sirius.

    Michael Grimaldi [president, GM of Canada] reportedly said that the satellite radio applications currently being considered by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission will not only allow drivers to pick up dozens of commercial-free digital radio channels, they will also lead to other potential automotive advances, including the integration of on-board technologies that will eventually bring Internet and video into vehicles.

    A third application pending - one from CHUM/Astral - would employ terrestrial DAB transmitters for a subscription digital radio service.

    While GM clearly prefers the satellite-delivered services, CHUM's Senior Vice-President of Regulatory Affairs, said that "it would be somewhat surprising if the CRTC established broadcasting policy based on the manufacturing plans of automobile manufacturers."

    No decision has been made by Canada's regulatory agency, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). All three applications were examined as part of a public hearing held in November 2004.


    Harris to Hold DRM Symposium in Romania
    Harris will host a DRM Symposium on March 1 and 2 at the Marriott Hotel in Bucharest, Romania. The event will inform and educate radio broadcasters from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East on how they can prepare for a digital future with Digital Radio Mondiale technology, and will focus on Romania's countrywide upgrade and expansion of its national broadcast infrastructure.

    Representatives from Harris and S.N. Radiocomunicatii S.A., Romania's state-owned broadcast organization, will provide insight into that nation’s broadcast modernization program.

    In addition to presentations about the Romanian project, several presentations on DRM will be provided, culminating with a DRM demonstration at a nearby 400kW high-power AM transmitter site, the Tancabesti high-power radio station. Once at the site, Harris engineers will install a DRM exciter package inside the transmitter. The DRM exciter package will feature a content server for transmission of a multiplexed, bandwidth-efficient audio and data stream and a modulator to drive the digitally prepared signal to a DRM-ready receiver. Attendees will be able to listen to the results.


    3GSM 2005 News
    Imagination Technologies, a developer of in-system-on-chip intellectual property (SoCIP) demonstrated its Electronic Program Guide (EPG) support for DAB digital radios at the3GSM 2005 Congress held last week in Europe. The company also showed its first handheld DAB radio with pause, rewind, record and MP3 support.

    The EPG software enables users to browse programs for a single station or all programs during a particular time slot, and select them for listening or recording to SD memory card. The EPG was demonstrated in conjunction with Pure Digital’s "Bug" DAB radio.

    Digital Multimedia Broadcast (DMB) technology was also featured at the show, with demonstrations of new receivers by LG, while Radioscape provided a real-time DMB feed using its new DMB Research and Test System, which the company says can be upgraded to include DAB audio and data transmission capability where mixed DAB/DMB network compatibility is required.


    Ibiquity Digital Extends Early-Adopter Discount Through June 2005
    Ibiquity Digital has extended its $5,000 introductory licensing discount for radio broadcasters until the end of June 2005. On July 1, a new discounted fee schedule will take effect. Radio broadcasters planning to convert to digital during the next four years will continue to receive discounts on the eventual $25,000 licensing fee.

    Ibiquity cites broadcaster interest and support from the past two years as the driving force behind the decision.

    The license fee is a one-time payment that grants a station the right to use Ibiquity Digital's HD Radio patents, software and trademarks for its main-channel audio. Licenses must be in place before a station receives broadcast equipment that contains Ibiquity Digital's intellectual property from manufacturers or resellers. The license fee structure is the same for all stations.


    OMT Technologies Announces Ibiquity Licensing
    OMT is now licensing Ibiquity’s HD Radio Program Associated Data (PAD) standard for their Imediatouch Broadcast Automation System.

    The licensing has allowed OMT to become an HD Radio wireless data service provider. The company claims that users of its Imediatouch 2.0 now will have seamless integration between the automation system and Ibiquity’s HD Radio technology.

    OMT claims that its Imediatouch, a suite of audio content management and digital delivery software for commercial broadcast radio applications, is installed and operating in more than 1,000 radio stations in North America, Asia and Europe.


    BE HD Radio Seminar Visits Salt Lake City
    Broadcast Electronics will take its HD Radio seminar to Salt Lake City on March 15. The seminar is being held at the request of Salt Lake’s broadcast engineering community.

    "We were invited…to meet with them and to discuss the latest HD Radio technology," said Ellis Terry, BE’s western regional sales manager.

    The seminar will be held at The "E" Center of West Valley City, UT, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15. BE RF systems engineers and a representative from Dielectric will cover a range of HD Radio topics, including:

  • Cost-effective solutions for converting station clusters
  • Benefits of generating HD Radio coding from the studio
  • Preparing for HD Radio text services and secondary audio, including wideband STL options
  • The latest in surround sound
  • Installation tips

    In April, Broadcast Electronics will hold its fourth annual Las Vegas HD Radio seminar on Saturday, April 16, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

    Broadcasters can register for the Salt Lake City seminar by e-mailing Jan Stratton at janstrat@bdcast.com or for the seminar in Las Vegas by e-mailing HDR@bdcast.com.


    Eye on IBOC

    CPB Unveils Next IBOC Conversion Grant Cycle
    The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) has opened the applications window for FY 2005’s digital radio conversion grant program, as the CPB board recently announced the allocation of $14 million designated solely for that purpose.

    Per-transmitter funding ceilings for individual grants are unchanged from last year’s $75,000 maximum, as are most of the program’s other specifications and requirements.

    In addition, CPB’s Senior Director of Media Technologies Luis Guardia announced that stations qualifying for digital conversion grant funding are also eligible for special discounts on selected HD Radio transmission equipment from Broadcast Electronics, Harris and Nautel.

    For more information, go to CPB’s website at www.cpb.org


    IBOC Across America

    IBOC by state: Tennessee

    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.

    Station Format Market Owner On Air
    WHRS-FM 91.7 Classical Cookeville Nashville Public Radio No
    WUOT-FM 91.9 Classical Knoxville University of Tennessee No
    WHAL-FM 95.7 Inspiration Memphis Clear Channel Radio Yes
    WLAC-AM 1510 Nws/Tlk/Spt Nashville Clear Channel Radio Yes
    WPLN-AM 1430 Nws/Tlk/Cls Nashville Nashville Public Radio No
    WPLN-FM 90.3 Clscl/News Nashville Nashville Public Radio No
    WQZQ-FM 102.5 Top 40 Nashville Cromwell Group, Inc. Yes
    WTML-FM 91.5 Classical Nashville Nashville Public Radio No

    HD Radio Terms

    The language of HD Radio

    RBDS: (Radio Broadcast Data System) The RBDS signal is a low bit rate data stream transmitted on the 57kHz subcarrier of an FM radio signal. Radio listeners know RBDS mostly through its ability to permit RBDS-capable radios to display call letters and search for stations based on their programming format. Special traffic announcements can be transmitted to RBDS radios, as well as emergency alerts.

    Perceptual Audio Coding: Also known as audio compression or audio bit rate reduction, this is the process of representing an audio signal with fewer bits while still preserving audio quality. The coding schemes are based on the perceptual characteristics of the human ear. Some examples of these coders are PAC, AAC, MPEG-2, and AC-3.


    To receive these articles twice a month in your e-mail, subscribe to the IBOC Update - Insight on HD Radio e-newsletter. Click here to subscribe.




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