IBOC Update - Apr 5, 2006

April 5, 2006

Stay up to date on the latest IBOC news, business and technology information with the twice-monthly newsletter from Radio magazine.


  • Cell Phone-based Audience Measurement to Test Soon
  • DRM Re-Elects Senger, Adds Committee Posts
  • NPR's Kean to Present HD Radio Coverage Findings at NAB2006
  • Bluetooth Adopts Wimedia as UWB standard
  • Thailand Tastes HD Radio
  • NPR, Harris Debut HD Radio Services for the Impaired
  • "Teachable Moment" in the HD Radio Roll-out
  • An Introduction to the New Language Surrounding HD Radio
  • IBOC by State: Nevada
  • TI Integrates Bluetooth/FM on New Chip
  • New Software Tracks Podcast Advertising

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    Cell Phone-based Audience Measurement to Test Soon
    The Media Audit and Ipsos are planning to market a new passive media audience measurement system in the United States. The Media Audit/Ipsos system will include two forms of monitoring software. One form is an encoded watermark embedded in the broadcaster's audio signal. The second is an audio matching technology to measure broadcast signals of those stations that are not encoded. The approach is unique in that it does not involve the manufacture of hardware. Instead, so-called Smart Cell Phones via the Ipsos software, aim to monitor individual exposure to radio and other media.

    The two companies claim to be responding to the radio industry's interest in an alternative ratings service that depends on technology, rather than listener recall and self-reporting, to monitor radio listening. Clear Channel Radio led the way when it announced an request for proposal for an alternative measurement system.

    "Cooperation of survey participants is a critical component of good research," said Richard Silman, global CEO of Ipsos Media. "We believe that cell phones are such an integral part of most peoples' lives that we will get a high degree of cooperation and compliance with survey participants via their cell phone. This applies particularly to the younger demographics."

    The Media Audit plans to field test the Ipsos watermark software in mid-2006 in the United States.

    DRM Re-elects Senger, Adds Committee Posts
    Digital Radio Mondiale has re-elected its chairman, Peter Senger of Deutsche Welle, to a fifth, consecutive two-year term. Senger has served as DRM Chairman since the consortium's inception in 1998.

    The voting took place in Istanbul last week, where DRM held its annual General Assembly and board meetings, hosted by Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) under the auspices of the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU).

    The consortium also added three members to its newly created executive committee: Dietmar Schill of Sony International Europe; Pierre Vasseur of Thomson Broadcast and Multimedia (formerly called Thales); and Jochen Huber of Transradio Sender Systeme Berlin AG.

    NPR's Kean to Present HD Radio Coverage Findings at NAB2006
    Broadcasters will have an opportunity to learn more about real-world HD Radio digital signal coverage performance when John Kean, senior technologist of NPR Labs, presents a paper entitled "HD Radio Coverage Measurement and Prediction" at this year's NAB2006 Broadcast Engineering Conference (BEC).

    Kean's presentation will describe the findings of a yearlong project in which NPR Labs of Washington, DC, collected HD Radio coverage surveys from nearly 30 stations around the country, deriving a propagation model based on the accumulated data.

    According to NAB's Tech Check publication, a key element of the project's success was NPR's in-house development of a portable platform for receiving, measuring and logging HD Radio signal reception. NPR's HD Radio data logger was built around a digital logging device originally intended for auto racing R&D. Combining GPS and multiple telemetry inputs, the system logs analog and digital field strength data with location and time stamps on an MMC memory card.

    NPR rotated the data logger among a select list of public radio stations. Host station engineers then deployed the package in a vehicle that traversed the station's coverage area by driving multiple routes. After each round of measurements, the logger was returned to NPR where the data was downloaded and the system prepared for shipment to the next host.

    Analysis of the data sought to answer the question of precisely what level of HD Radio digital signal was required to ensure digital signal acquisition and maintenance at both a 90 percent and 97 percent reliability level.

    Kean's paper will be presented as part of the "Test and Measurements for HD Radio" session at the BEC on Wednesday, April 26, 2006, at 10:00 a.m. in room S227 of the Las Vegas Convention Center.


    Bluetooth Adopts Wimedia as UWB standard
    Bluetooth intends to adopt Wimedia's UWB solution as its high data rate link. According to a report issued by ABI Research, the announcement means that the Bluetooth brand is likely to expand its end user offerings, especially those relating to bandwidth-intensive applications such as media file transfers.

    Short range UWB is a pivotal technology for consumer audio media because it can provide fast, easy-to-use, short range (15 feet or less) links for consumers wishing to download podcasts, music and video files from hand-held broadband handsets or laptops to home and automotive A/V systems.

    Thailand Tastes HD Radio
    Broadcast Electronics (BE) reports that it has installed an HD Radio system for a public radio network targeting mass transit commuters in Thailand's capital of Bangkok. Radio of Thailand authorized the system as the country's first introduction to HD Radio. To receive the broadcasts, more than 10,000 HD Radio receivers will be installed in buses.

    "Interest has been growing in Thailand, like elsewhere, for an affordable, robust digital radio system that will open up opportunities for broadcasters," said Pairoj Veeranondh, managing director of Broadcast and Studio Co., which represents BE in Thailand. "This new HD Radio network for mass transit indicates that the technology has great potential here."

    The transmission system was acquired by RNT Television and consists of a BE FMI 106 HD Radio transmitter system operating in high-level combined mode with an existing BE FM 5C transmitter. RNT Television has a contract to broadcast to buses in Thailand using a portion of existing licensed FM frequencies.

    NPR, Harris Debut HD Radio Services for the Impaired
    An HD Radio-based technology designed to provide media services to people with visual and hearing impairment will debut at NAB2006. The new application, a collaborative effort of Harris and National Public Radio Labs, will be demonstrated at the Harris booth in the Las Vegas Convention Center.

    Visitors will have a chance to preview captioned radio text for the hearing impaired, and extended hybrid mode operation of radio reading services for the visually impaired sent over an HD Radio air chain. The proof-of-concept design will feature Harris transmission equipment for insertion of the program material in the HD Radio multicasting stream. Kenwood and Boston Acoustics radios receive the dedicated Radio Reading Service channel along with radio caption displays of NPR programming.

    Many NPR member stations currently broadcast Radio Reading Services for the blind, a program that offers readings of books and publications over analog subcarrier services to about one million weekly listeners nationwide. But because this number represents only 10 percent of the potential visually impaired audience, NPR believes an HD Radio-based service will provide easier access for listeners and thus increase reading service audience size. Similarly, an HD Radio multiplex can carry the new captioned radio text service to deliver news, weather and other important information to the hearing impaired.

    Eye on IBOC

    "Teachable Moment" in the HD Radio Roll-out
    A recent flap involving Boston Acoustics' Recepter HD tabletop receiver and some discussion on the Pubtech mailing list, a forum for public radio engineers nationwide, may offer a lesson in why many receiver manufacturers aren't in a big hurry to bring HD Radio-capable products to market.

    The issue surfaced when several public radio engineers whose stations purchased Recepters through NPR reported poor sensitivity in the HD Radio reception mode when using the factory-provided monopole wire antenna. Reactions by some engineers posting to the list were critical of the unit's sensitivity. Other engineers postulated that RF leakage from the chassis was causing desensitization of the receiver's front end.

    The net result was that Boston Acoustics--in a laudable attempt to respond to critique--has substituted a wire dipole antenna in place of the single wire monopole. Unfortunately, news of the engineer's disaffection surfaced in at least one popular press outlet. Since that time, NPR management has attempted to soothe matters by issuing statements exonerating the Recepter from any perceived shortcomings.

    So what did we learn? Well, for starters, that broadcast engineers' analytical nature can sometimes be painfully blunt, particularly when reviewing what's intended to be a consumer electronics item, not a piece of professional monitoring equipment.

    And second, that it sometimes pays to be discreet, especially when the paint's still wet. If HD Radio is going to succeed, we're all going to have to become a little more market-savvy.

    HD Radio Terminology

    An introduction into the language surrounding IBOC.

    PCM: Pulse Code Modulation

    PIDS: Primary IBOC Data Service Logical Channel

    For more radio broadcast tech terms, visit the Radio magazine technical glossary at beradio.com/mag/glossary.

    IBOC Across America

    IBOC By State: Nevada
    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 HD2 Format
    KCNV-FM 89.7 Classical Las Vegas Nevada Public Radio Yes Hip Hop
    KCYE-FM 104.3 Country Las Vegas Beasley Broadcast Group No
    KKLZ-FM 96.3 Clsc Rock Las Vegas Beasley Broadcast Group No
    KNPR-FM 88.9 News Las Vegas Nevada Public Radio No
    KQRT-FM 105.1 Mexican Las Vegas Entravision Yes
    KSTJ-FM 102.7 80s Hits Las Vegas Beasley Broadcast Group Yes Star Party 102.7
    KWNR-FM 95.5 Country Las Vegas Clear Channel Radio Yes
    KXNT-AM 840 News/Talk Las Vegas CBS Radio Yes
    KXTE-FM 107.5 Alternative Las Vegas CBS Radio Yes Upbeat Alternative
    KWPR-FM 88.7 News Lund Nevada Public Radio No
    KLNR-FM 91.7 News Panaca Nevada Public Radio No
    KKOH-AM 780 News/Talk Reno Citadel No
    KTPH-FM 91.7 News Tonopah Nevada Public Radio No


    TI Integrates Bluetooth/FM on New Chip
    Texas Instruments is introducing its Blue Link 6.0 platform, which combines Bluetooth wireless technology with high fidelity FM stereo and mono performance on a chip. The new platform provides hardware and software support, as well as provides streaming FM stereo music from compatible mobile handsets to a Bluetooth-enabled headset.

    TI claims that because Bluetooth and FM functions are integrated on the same silicon, the design ensures RF co-existence between the two functions, and also provides significant power savings in the most commonly used modes of operation, such as page and inquiry scan.

    TI says the Blue Link 6.0 platform includes TI's Blue Link Bluetooth, FM Protocol Stacks and all software required to work with TI's OMAP platforms and OMAP-Vox chipsets for GSM, GPRS, EDGE, WCDMA and UMTS, making the platform compatible with Symbian, Linux or Microsoft Windows Mobile operating systems.

    New Software Tracks Podcast Advertising
    Pod2mobile is launching a new suite of software designed to embed and track ads into podcasts delivered over-the-air to consumer digital phone handsets.

    Observing that podcasting has yet to generate significant revenue for producers, networks or developers, the software will allow advertisers to see how well their message is received by providing a matrix of statistical data about where their ads were heard and by how many people, among other information.

    The software meshes with an existing Pod2mobile podcast streaming service that enables consumers to listen to their favorite podcasts on their mobile handsets. The software supports certain handsets on Verizon Wireless, Sprint, Cingular and T-Mobile.

    Pod2mobile points out that while Apple has sold about 42 million Ipod players, there are presently more than 200 million mobile phone users in the United States and more than 700 million mobile phones worldwide, according to Gartner Research. CNET reports global cell phone shipments will climb to 850 million units in 2006.

    According to Business Week, Sequoia Capital analysts believe that podcasting may be positioned to capture $1 to $2 billion from the $30 billion traditional radio advertising market during the next three to five years.

    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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