That most Americans have heard of HD Radio but many still don't understand its fundamentals is a bitter pill for those in the industry that have worked for years to boost public awareness of the technology.
But when self described "media experts" report on a credible study on the state of global digital radio and still manage to mangle the facts, its downright disturbing. And in the echo chamber that is the Internet, bad information has a habit of propagating.
It happened last week with an Aug. 13, 2010, edition of Media Daily News that provided a synopsis of a new study of global digital radio technology being marketed by research firm ABI. Unfortunately, that article incorrectly interpreted some of the headline data.
Instead of reporting on a global base of 4 million HD Radio receivers and 13.5 million DAB sets projected to sell by the end of this year, Media Daily News declares "as of 2010, U.S. consumers have purchased 4 million HD Radio sets, while European consumers -- led by the U.K. -- have purchased about 13.5 million, ABI expects the global 'installed base' of HD Radio receivers to jump to 200 million by 2015."
Were that true, champagne would surely be flowing in the halls at iBiquity Digital.
To make matters worse, this bit of misinformation got picked up by Mediaconomy Digest on Aug. 16, which bannered the following headline: "HD Radio Surge Expected By 2015, But Most Sales Will Happen Overseas."
Now, there's nothing remarkable about any of this. In the world of Internet news, editors have become a luxury and accuracy often falls victim to immediacy and ubiquity. It happens to all of us, and the best we can hope for are vigilant readers that bring them to the timely attention of publishers, resulting in corrections and retractions.
But this particular instance drives home the point that the public and the media, both here and abroad, still need plenty of help in understanding the family of technologies we call "digital radio."