The idea of increasing the power level of the digital sideband carriers in the hybrid HD Radio signal was introduced just more than a year ago. In the time since, debates have ensued about the idea itself and the specific power level. With the issue outstanding, some stations have decided to place their HD Radio transition plans on hold pending the outcome. Radio magazine talked to Jeff R. Detweiler director, broadcast business development at Ibiquity Digital.
Radio: Where do we stand with the proposed digital level increase in relation to NPR actions and the FCC?
JD: Ibiquity and the broadcasters have proposed that the FCC move forward immediately with a power increase for commercial stations where there is support for an immediate power increase. So, it's with the FCC.
NPR Labs tells us that it is supportive of and committed to a power increase. They have questions about the appropriate amount of the increase and want to have what they call a “managed increase”. NPR Labs is currently planning more testing to determine the appropriate power increase for NPR member stations and Ibiquity has offered to provide input on and help support these tests. Ibiquity continues to work directly with public radio stations to ensure they are fully educated about the benefits of a power increase.
Radio: Is there an expected date when the FCC will finalize it?
JD: With a new administration and an acting commissioner, this is very difficult question to answer. We're hopeful that we'll see some action in the next several months.
Radio: The actual digital power level has been debated to a range from -20 to -10dB. Do you expect a fixed-level ruling, a stations-can-choose level, or a value based on certain criteria?
JD: The commercial broadcasters are asking for approval to go to -10dBc. If additional testing demonstrates that less power for non-commercial stations would be appropriate, then a suitable algorithm will be developed to fix the appropriate levels.