IBOC Update – Jul 20, 2005


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Index:

  • Early Responses to NRSC-5 Skewing Negative
  • NPR Releases KCSN Booster Test Data
  • Canadian Satellite Radio Licensing Appealed
  • DAB Receivers Sales Gain Momentum in UK
  • Worldspace Snags XM Investment, Expands India Marketing
  • Crawford Jumps on IBOC Fast Track
  • IBOC by State: Alabama
  • An Introduction to the New Language Surrounding HD Radio

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    News

    Early Responses to NRSC-5 Skewing Negative
    A sample of comments of the early returns filed in response to the FCC's Public Notice DA 05-1661, requesting comments from all interested parties regarding the "In band/On Channel Digital Radio Broadcasting Standard NRSC-5" submitted to the FCC by the National Radio Standards Committee (NRSC) on May 18, 2005, suggest that AM adjacent channel interference is still a concern among some U.S. and Canadian broadcasters.

    On July 14, an informal look at the 11 comments posted since the FCC issued its public notice on June 16 revealed that 10 of the respondents had objections or concerns relating to adjacent and co-channel interference in secondary coverage areas caused by AM IBOC operation.

    Among the respondents were Canadian broadcast engineer Barry McClarnon and Leonard Kahn of New York. Both have authored articles opposed to adoption of IBOC digital broadcasting using Ibiquity's proprietary HD Radio technology in the United States.

    The comments period remains open until Aug. 17. Those interested in filing comments can find more information at http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-05-1661A1.doc. Read the submitted comments at the this link.


    NPR Releases KCSN Booster Test Data
    NPR has released an engineering test report detailing the results of using synchronous booster transmitters with hybrid IBOC digital FM transmission systems. The report is the product of six months of testing on the boosted signal of public radio station KCSN-FM, licensed to California State University, Northridge, in conjunction with National Public Radio.

    For those unacquainted, booster technology involves the application of a secondary source, co-channel, phase synchronized FM signal used to fill in substantial gaps in an FM broadcast station's coverage, usually caused by terrain-induced shadows. The booster transmitter is generally situated at the approximate center of the gap, with precise control applied to the power level and phase of the booster transmitter, to present a relatively smooth transition between signals for mobile receivers operating in the mobile environment.

    But along with the rigorous requirements imposed by analog FM, Ibiquity's HD Radio technology adds another layer of complexity to the equation when main and booster signals carry a hybrid IBOC signal. Precise timing adjustment must be made not only between the digital and analog signals on each transmitter in regard to the digital signal's latency, but also between each transmitter's analog and digital signals.

    KCSN is reported to be the first station FM station to have tested the technologies in tandem, and did so with the combined assistance of NPR, Broadcast Electronics and Harris.

    The testing reportedly involved measurements made at more than 40,000 locations, compiled using GPS coordinate data and analyzed with computer mapping software.

    Results are said to be promising, with signal improvements of as much as 40dB with the booster transmitter operating and few negative byproducts generated by the two-source system.

    The complete report can be viewed courtesy of NPR at: this link.


    Canadian Satellite Radio Licensing Appealed
    Canada's broadcasting and cultural communities are up in arms over two recent decisions made by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) granting federal licenses to operate satellite subscription radio to XM-backed Canadian Satellite Radio and Sirius Canada.

    At issue is the question of content requirements imposed on the two licensees, which differ significantly from those incumbent on conventional Canadian broadcasters, as well as from that imposed on terrestrial subscription radio services licensed at the same time to Canadian broadcasters CHUM/Astral.

    Among those appealing the satellite radio license decisions are CHUM Limited and Astral Media, joined by Radio 1540 Limited (CHIN Radio Television International), CJRT-FM (Jazz.FM91), Fairchild Radio Group, O.K. Radio Group, Newcap, Larche Communications, Aboriginal Voices Radio, Rock 95 Broadcasting, Evanov Radio Group and Radio-Nord Communications.

    The concerned parties have filed a joint Notice to Appeal to the Governor in Council requesting that Decision CRTC 2005-246 and Decision CRTC 2005-247 be set aside. In their Notice of Appeal, the broadcasters argue that the specifications in the decisions to license the U.S.-supported satellite services are out of step with the broadcasting policy for Canada specified in Section 3(1) of Canada's Broadcasting Act.

    "The low threshold of Canadian content requirements imposed on the U.S.-supported satellite licensees is a dramatic departure from historical broadcasting precedent," said Paul Ski, executive vice president Radio, CHUM Limited. "If allowed to stand, this will inevitably cause significant harm to not only Canadian artists and radio broadcasters, but to the Canadian broadcasting system as a whole."

    Skis's position was buttressed by a concern over what some critics perceive as a shortfall in linguistic diversity requirements. "With the very low level of French-language programming (2.5 percent) and no specific expectations regarding ethnocultural and/or aboriginal services, it is hard to understand how these decisions reflect Canada's linguistic duality and cultural diversity," said Jacques Parisien, president of Astral Media Radio. Canada is officially designated as a bilingual nation.

    Opponents of the satellite license grants also fear the precedent set by the CRTC decisions might expand beyond audio services to include all digitally delivered content, because at least one of the two firms plans to eventually offer digital video and data services.

    A full appeal will be filed before the July 31, 2005, deadline, and is just one of three appeals filed in response to the CRTC decisions.


    DAB Receivers Sales Gain Momentum in UK
    The purchase of DAB radios in the UK has picked up markedly in the last six months, according to a Dart survey conducted by Ipsos Media, a European research firm.

    Ipsos' latest quarterly Dart survey results suggest that 9 percent of English adults have purchased DAB radios in the last six months, nearly double the 5 percent that bought them in the previous two and a half years. If the current adoption trend line holds, as much as 16 percent of the adult market could purchase the digital receivers in the coming 12 months.

    The survey also suggests that the growing popularity of DAB in the UK seems to be related to more program variety--resulting in increased averages of time spent listening and cross-channel sampling.

    Men appear to dominate the early adopter category in DAB listening with 11 percent of male and 7 percent of female respondents reporting ownership of a receiver.


    Business

    Worldspace Snags XM Investment, Expands India Marketing
    Worldspace Satellite Radio plans to open its own branded outlet in India's capital and has already begun marketing receivers through retail distributors there. The move underscores the Washington, DC –based company's recent drive to build subscriptions in its African and Asian markets and raise capital through new stock offerings, most notably resulting in a just-announced $25,000,000 investment by XM Satellite Radio.

    The investment gives XM common stock in Worldspace, and will allow both companies to co-develop satellite radio products, technology and distribution networks. XM will also have options on an additional $37.5 million in Worldspace stock, as well as access to future overseas development.

    Founded in 1990, Worldspace currently holds licenses to serve India and Africa, selling receivers and subscriptions for radio service, and leasing broadcast capacity on the two geo-stationary satellites--Afristar and Asiastar--that it currently owns. It does not compete with XM or Sirius Satellite Radio of New York, which hold the only two U.S. satellite radio broadcast licenses.

    Worldspace appears to be applying a business model similar to that of XM and Sirius in India and China--both of which have burgeoning middle classes. The company's subscribers pay between $3 and $5 monthly to receive 80 channels of news, music and sports programs.


    Eye on IBOC

    Crawford Jumps on IBOC Fast Track
    The Crawford Broadcasting Company will join a bevy of other radio ownership groups now focusing on accelerating their HD Radio technology roll-out. In addition to announcing a three-year timetable for conversion of its radio properties, the company has obtained experimental authority from the FCC to test HD Radio multicasting on all of its FM HD Radio stations. Testing in selected markets is expected to begin in the near future.

    Five Crawford stations--WMUZ(FM) in Detroit, MI; WPTR(FM) in Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY; WPWX(FM) and WSRB(FM) in Chicago, IL; and WYRB(FM) in Genoa, IL--are currently transmitting an IBOC hybrid signal, while conversion is underway in Buffalo, NY; Rochester, NY; and Birmingham, AL, all of which are scheduled to be on the air in July. Crawford also expects three of its AM stations in Denver to commence HD Radio operation this fall.

    Crawford Broadcasting currently operates 29 stations in 12 markets across the country.


    IBOC Across America

    IBOC By State: Alabama
    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 Multicasting
    WBHJ-FM 95.7 HpHop/RhyBl Birmingham Cox Radio No No
    WDJC-FM 93.7 Christian Birmingham Crawford Broadcasting Company No No
    WDXB-FM 102.5 Country Birmingham Clear Channel Radio Yes No
    WJLD-AM 1400 R&B/Tlk/Gsp Birmingham Richardson Broadcasting Company Yes No
    WMJJ-FM 96.5 AC Birmingham Clear Channel Radio Yes No
    WNCB-FM 97.3 Country Birmingham Cox Radio No No
    WXJC-FM 92.5 Christian Birmingham Crawford Broadcasting Company No No
    WYDE-FM 101.1 News/Talk Birmingham Crawford Broadcasting Company No No
    WTAK-FM 106.1 Clsc Rock Huntsville Clear Channel Radio Yes No
    WBLX-FM 92.9 Urban AC Mobile Cumulus Broadcasting Yes No
    WYOK-FM 104.1 CHR/Rhymc Mobile Cumulus Broadcasting Yes No
    WUAL-FM 91.5 Nws/Cls/Jaz Tuscaloosa University of Alabama No No

    HD Radio Terminology

    An introduction into the language surrounding IBOC

    Extended hybrid waveform: A transmitted waveform for modes composed of the analog FM signal plus digitally modulated primary main subcarriers and some or all primary extended subcarriers. This waveform will normally be used during an initial transitional phase preceding conversion to the all-digital waveform.

    Service mode: A specific configuration of operating parameters specifying throughput, performance level and selected logical channels.



    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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