IBOC Update - Apr 28, 2004

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WGUC-FM Takes HD Radio on Tour

Non-commercial classical FM broadcaster WGUC-FM, the first public radio station in Ohio to launch HD Radio, is "rolling out" with a unique promotion in the Cincinnati area. Featuring a new 2004 BMW X5 SAV sports activity vehicle equipped with a Kenwood HD Radio receiver, the eye-catching four-by-four will serve as a mobile sound demonstration booth and provide the public an opportunity to sample the enhanced audio fidelity HD Radio delivers.

Audiophiles consider the classical format to be the ideal landscape for HD Radio technology because listeners can virtually recreate a live orchestral atmosphere – right at home, or in the car. "Since symphonic music moves across a wide spectrum of instrumental sounds, it is ideally suited to demonstrate the breadth of what HD Radio technology is designed to deliver. Chatter and three chord guitar riffs will only give the listener a glimpse of the technology's sound fidelity," notes WGUC general manager Rich Eiswerth. "So for that segment of the public that is upgrading personal audio equipment, digital broadcasting will greatly enhance the listening experience," he continued. "Our BMW roll out is simply a clever way for our station to bring this information to the public."


Ibiquity and Friends Demo Live Traffic Data Tests on KSTJ-FM

Ibiquity Digital Corporation, in cooperation with Microspace, NAVTEQ, Broadcast Electronics, Panasonic and Las Vegas Station KSTJ-FM demonstrated actual transmission of real-time graphical traffic updates using HD Radio technology in Las Vegas during NAB2004. The traffic information was displayed on a Panasonic GPS navigation system in a demonstration of an end-to-end system that exactly replicates how radio stations may transmit real time map updates to end users' radio screens.

"Navigation is just one of many telematics applications that broadcasters will be able to offer to their listeners using the broadcast infrastructure we are showing at NAB," said Joe D'Angelo, vice president of data business development, Ibiquity Digital Corporation. "This same transmission method could be used to send a host of other types of content to listeners, such as sports' scores, stock quotes and any other information that broadcasters want to send for real-time or archival insertion along with their HD Radio broadcasts."

"The navigational field is just one of the new data services opening up to broadcasters because of HD Radio. Data opportunities are limitless, but up until now, the management of software and broadband links haven't been available for broadcasters to take advantage of these opportunities. We hope to fill in that gap with these new offerings," said Ray Miklius, Broadcast Electronics vice president, studio products.

Ibiquity plans to test this prototype transmission system on a trial basis to stations in four of its target markets: Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and New York.

Telos Demos Fraunhofer 5.1 Surround Sound Coder at NAB

Telos Systems/Omnia Audio and Fraunhofer Institute, the developers of MP3 and other MPEG audio codecs, demonstrated a spatial audio coding system for the transmission of 5.1 channel surround audio over HD Radio at NAB2004. According to reports from the convention floor, listeners were impressed with what they heard.

The new system works with the existing HD Radio codec and transmission equipment and utilizes 80kb/s of the total 96kb/s stream available for primary audio information, while the remaining 16kb/s is utilized to carry the surround information.

"Only a couple of years ago, it seemed we didn't have enough bandwidth for full-fidelity stereo on IBOC," said Steve Church, Telos president. "With this breakthrough, it's possible to have very impressive surround on HD Radio."

In addition to the Fraunhofer demo, Harris also displayed a 5.1 channel system and the NPR Tomorrow Radio system in its booth at the convention.


Ibiquity and Crutchfield Announce Marketing Co-Promotion Program

Ibiquity Digital has joined forces with Crutchfield Corporation, a major marketer of consumer electronics products, in developing an HD Radio marketing co-promotion program for AM and FM HD Radio broadcasters. The program provides copy and marketing assistance for broadcasters' websites to educate consumers about HD Radio technology along with a direct link from broadcasters' websites to Crutchfield's dedicated HD Radio Web page. In return, Crutchfield is offering cash incentives to broadcasters for sales realized from click-through customers.

Crutchfield currently carries both Kenwood and Panasonic HD Radio receivers and plans to offer additional brands as they enter the market.

To learn more about the program contact Don Kelly, Ibiquity broadcast strategic marketing manager at kelly@ibiquity.com or 410-872-1552.

FCC Update

FCC Issues Sweeping FNPRM and NOI for DAB

In an action coinciding with an April 15 open meeting on technology issues, the FCC issued a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) regarding how it ought to move on a broad range of issues surrounding the rollout of IBOC DAB radio in the US. Attached to the order was a companion Notice of Inquiry (NOI) that seeks to define emerging controversies regarding digital content control and international treaty concerns.

In issuing the FNPRM, the Commission specifically addressed a number of important issues, such as changes and amendments to station license application forms, and technical rules, including EAS, service contours, record keeping and measurement requirements. In addition, the Commission wants to decide what types of digital services should be permitted, how existing public interest, programming, and operational rules should apply to the new services, as well as how IBOC DAB will affect NCE, LPFM and FM translator stations. In short, the proposed rulemaking envisioned by the FCC will be sweeping, touching nearly every facet of the current radio rules. While the Commission seems to remain disposed to allow the migration to digital services at a marketplace-established pace, it also asked what it might do to encourage conversion to hybrid IBOC DAB and its eventual replacement with all-digital service.

While the FNPRM addressed multiple dimensions of DAB's proposed regulatory environment, the FCC also addressed controversial aspects of its adoption in the companion NOI. Of specific interest was the issue of digital content control, recently brought to the fore by comments filed on behalf of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which seeks the mandating of a digital copy protection "flag" similar to one being adopted for digital television. In its comments, the FCC seeks guidance in defining its regulatory role in regards to the issue. Also acknowledged were issues regarding border crossing of IBOC DAB signals, and the FCC's desire to resolve whether any changes to existing treaties or regulations may be warranted.

Accompanying the joint FNPRM and NOI were the comments of FCC Chairman Michael Powell, Commissioner Michael Copps, and Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. While both Powell and Adelstein were generally bullish regarding the DAB transition, Copps raised concerns about the possibility that digitally enabled multicasting (via SACs) might negatively impact the diversity of voices heard in local radio marketing by effectively doubling the number of program streams available to current license holders.

The deadline to respond to the FNPRM or NOI (FCC04-99) is July 16. All comments should reference proceeding 99-325.

Eye on IBOC

Entercom Communications Announces HD Radio Conversion Plans for its Seattle and Portland Markets

Entercom Communications has signed licenses to implement HD Radio technology at its five FM stations (KGON, KKSN, KNRK, KRSK and KWJJ) in Portland, OR, and its three FM stations (KALC, KQMT and KOSI) in Denver. The Portland stations will be the first HD Radio stations to license HD Radio in Oregon and bring the total number of Entercom's outlets committed to HD Radio broadcasting to 15.

David J. Field, president and CEO of Entercom Communications said that Denver and Portland were natural choices for the next phase of that company's digital conversion process because consumers there are responsive to technical innovation and also because Entercom holds a strong positions in both markets.

HD Radio Terminology

An Introduction to the New Language Surrounding HD Radio

split-level combining: A recently developed technique in which the digital hybrid signal is low level combined with the FM analog signal, then amplified through a low/medium power broadband transmitter, before being high level combined in-phase with the main FM analog signal. This system allows using a common antenna with greater efficiency than high-level combining, but without the requirement for a full-powered broadband analog transmitter.

This system was displayed at NAB2004 in the Harris booth. Complete details of the system will be discussed in an upcoming article in Radio magazine.


ERI Intros Side-mounted, Dual-input Antenna for FM IBOC

Joining a host of manufacturers introducing new IBOC digital technologies at last week's NAB convention, Electronics Research unveiled a dual-input, side-mounted FM antenna designed specifically for FM IBOC applications. The new antenna is capable of transmitting the analog and digital FM signals without requiring a high-loss hybrid combiner or the use of a circulator to attain the required isolation between the digital and analog transmitters. The design meets current Federal Communications Commission requirement for informal notification of IBOC implementation requiring that all the elements in an FM antenna array be excited by both the digital and analog FM signals, and thus requires no STA for operation.

Tom Silliman, ERI president and CEO, said, "This new antenna design is a significant technological advance that will speed the implementation and deployment of the IBOC digital broadcasting in the United States. This allows FM stations to implement simulcast operations without needing additional tower aperture and without requiring the use of high loss hybrid combiners or having to compensate for the loss of a circulator."

Key characteristics of the antenna include dual coaxial inputs that allow the use of a single antenna while eliminating the combining loss associated with high-level hybrid combining methods. ERI claims the product is able to achieve 1.05:1 VSWR for both analog and digital inputs while maintaining 30dB of isolation between them without the use of an isolator/circulator. Since the same elements are used for both signals, both formats have the same horizontal and vertical patterns and identical gain.

Belar Licenses Technology to Produce IBOC DAB Modulation Monitors

Belar, a longtime producer of broadcast modulation monitoring equipment, has signed a licensing agreement with Ibiquity to move forward with a product line designed to allow broadcasters to monitor key AM and FM HD Radio signal parameters in real time.

The announcement is seen as timely by industry observers, who note that the FCC is making final considerations for a proposed rulemaking that is expected to include monitoring requirements for HD Radio digital signals. Under the temporary notification procedures currently in place, broadcasters transmitting an IBOC signal are not required to possess monitoring apparatus. In fact, many early adopters of the transmission technology have only recently taken delivery of consumer HD Radio tuners designed for aftermarket automotive applications, allowing them to actually hear their HD Radio digital signal for the first time.

A prototype of the monitor was displayed at NAB2004. Production units will be available later this year. Belar was awarded a Radio magazine Pick Hit Award for the product.

HD Radio Notebook

Ibiquity Establishes HD Radio Station Web List

Ibiquity has unveiled a website to provide a comprehensive list of licensed U.S. radio stations that have begun or are soon to initiate HD Radio transmissions. In addition, the company also announced that San Jose's KEMR-FM 105.7, owned by Univision, became the 100th station nationwide to successfully commence full-time HD Radio broadcasts when it signed on in mid-April 2004.

Visitors to www.HD-Radio.com can search for stations across more than 100 markets that are broadcasting HD Radio signals to their communities. This new feature is part of Ibiquity's strategy of partnering with local stations and retailers to promote the availability of HD Radio technology within each market and follows the recent appointment of several executives to spearhead those efforts.

The gala launch of Ohio State University's WOSU-FM on April 5 is typical of the excitement greeting the introduction of HD Radio broadcasts within many communities. In addition to its on-air promotions, the Columbus station is also launching a print campaign highlighting its leadership position as the first station in central Ohio to broadcast using HD Radio technology.

With the availability of a continuously updated online resource tracking the nationwide rollout of HD Radio, consumers across the country can now follow its progress within their markets as more and more stations flip the switch to this next-generation of radio. Visitors to the website can also learn more about the new technology and the different services it offers.

More from Radio magazine

IBOC Product Introductions

The NAB convention ended a few days ago, and we at Radio magazine are busy organizing and sorting all the material that we gathered during the show. The next issue of IBOC Update will be sent on May 12. Look for a complete rundown of all the IBOC technology introductions from the convention as well as the Radio magazine Pick Hits in that issue.

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