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An Introduction to the New Language Surrounding HD Radio
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HD Radio Alliance Grows as Arbitron Takes Notice
Beasley Broadcasting says that it's joining Bonneville, CBS, Citadel, Clear Channel, Cumulus, Emmis, Entercom and Greater Media to become the ninth and latest member of the HD Radio Alliance, an organization committed to speeding the deployment and widespread adoption of IBOC digital radio technology.
Beasley's announcement comes in the wake of a call by HD Radio Alliance President Peter Ferrara asking radio owners to finalize their commitment of advertising inventory and dollars to the group's mission by Dec. 30, to participate in the first round of multicast format selection conferences involving the top 25 markets.
Calls for a cross-industry dialogue on multicast channel designations and formats have also drawn the attention of another industry player--Arbitron. Ed Cohen, the company's vice president of Domestic Radio Research, was recently quoted as saying his company needs to "start thinking about what the diary should look like" to accommodate the changes wrought by IBOC digital and PPM technology.
Alliance members say they'll work openly and cooperatively in coordinating multicast format choices to increase free radio's content diversity in individual markets.
HD Radio Display Study Favors Expanded Band Approach
A focus group study of consumer's preference as to how HD Radio multicast (SPS) channels are displayed on receivers suggests that most favor the idea of treating them as new and separate from their parent stations.
Cox Radio funded the study conducted by Bob Harper and Co. with the objective of determining whether consumers would prefer a layered or nested approach to listing multicasts under a primary station header (i.e., WXYZ HD 1, HD 2, etc.) or an expanded band approach (e.g., 108.1, 108.3, etc) that would treat each multicast channel as a separate and unique entity. In focus groups conducted in Los Angeles, Detroit and Washington D.C. during the first part of November, most participants found the expanded band approach to be less confusing than the layered alternative, making it easier to consistently locate a particular format and channel.
The study findings will be presented to the NRSC for consideration next month as that body meets at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The study may impact future HD Radio design, but could become a sore point among receiver manufacturers who have already produced tooling and product using the layered display approach. The issue is sensitive area for the industry because receiver manufacturers are feeling considerable pressure to roll out product quickly and cheaply at a time in which industry standards are still in flux and receiver demand is low.
The study results can be viewed at www.bobharper.com
Harris Firms Up HD Radio Commitments
Harris has named Buckley Broadcasting as a preferred vendor for HD Radio products.
The two companies reportedly have agreed on a four-year commitment for the provision of HD Radio transmitters, exciters and related systems to Buckley Broadcasting's 10 FM and nine AM stations in New York, Connecticut and California.
Buckley currently has an HD Radio conversion underway at WDRC-FM in Hartford, CT, with others planned early next year at WSEN-FM Syracuse, NY, and KWAV-FM Monterey, CA.
In a related story, Unique Interactive and Harris have announced a partnership to integrate the Unique Interactive Display Text system into the Harris HD Radio product line. Unique Interactive's Man DLS is an online tool designed to create, manage and schedule dynamic text for display on HD Radio receivers. The system imports PAD information from audio server systems for receiver display and can also link databases for and integrate text streams from traffic, news, weathe, and promotional sources.
Man DLS will be rebranded as a Harris product.
Sirius May Join XM in Adding Downloading to Menu
The red-hot rivalry and one-upmanship that have marked the rollout of satellite radio shows no sign of abating anytime soon, as Sirius may soon join XM in adding for-pay music download services to bundled service.
XM announced earlier this fall that it would team up with Napster to offer XM + Napster, the first online service to provide one interface for purchasing and downloading music heard on XM via a proprietary interface. Now Sirius is reported to be discussing a similar arrangement with Apple for the direct distribution of its Itune product to Sirius subscribers.
Both companies are already marketing receivers with built-in recorder features that permit subscribers to save and play back selected programming in the receiver. The functionality available in Sirius' S50 and XM's My Fi models allows users to save, list and sort individual songs by artist, and replay them at will. The receivers also allow users to add their own MP3 files to the menu, but do not permit recorded material to be exported in any way. The new pay-per-download services will allow consumers to earmark the songs they wish to purchase to streamline and enhance the order process.
The RIAA and other recording industry interests, expressing concern that even limited replay functionality may hurt music sales, are likely to cite satellite radio's example as evidence that justifies a mandated digital anti-piracy flag for IBOC digital radio services in the United States.
Anecdotal reports suggest that radio groups now embracing the HD Radio conversion process are interested in adding recording and download order functionality to the array of digital services IBOC digital stations plan to offer.
BE Says Dashboard Will Speed Multicast Restarts
Broadcast Electronics (BE) has released a software upgrade that includes a new dashboard interface for the IDI 20 Data Importer. The upgrade adds updated menus and an automatic restart feature.
The software release addresses an issue of concern among multicasters whose on-air continuity may suffer if the program importer needs to be relaunched after power drops or other transmission failure. BE claims the dashboard includes a click-and-go startup feature that can be remotely accessed through a private network or IP connection. A default TCP/IP communication link between the IDI 20 and BE's FSI 10 HD Radio signal generator is also included as part of the upgrade.
BE says its IDI 20 Data Importers with dashboard version 1.2.0 are shipping now, and that existing IDI 20 units can be upgraded in the field. More details on the upgrade process is available from BE customer service representatives.
Boston Acoustics Now Shipping Receptor HD
Boston Acoustics reports that it has begun shipping its Recepter Radio HD model to retailers across the country. The Recepter Radio HD is a compact, high-performance stereo digital AM/FM table model, and is one of the first HD home radios to decode and play digital Multicast channels. The receiver also displays HD Radio program-associated data such as station call letters, song titles, artist names and additional text along with analog FM broadcast RBDS station information. A compact satellite speaker allows stereo listening, along with 20 channel presets, stereo line inputs and a credit card sized remote control.
The new receiver has received favorable reviews in some markets where multiple HD Radio signals are now available.
Eye on IBOC
CES 06 Looms Large for HD Radio
With less than two weeks before the Consumer Electronics Show opens in Las Vegas, radio broadcasters and vendors are pondering ways to bring HD Radio to the attention of thousands of journalists that will ply the aisles of the largest and most prestigious event of its kind on earth.
If HD Radio doesn't succeed in being a show headliner, it won't be for lack of trying, according to Ibiquity CEO Robert Struble, who says that his company looks to 2006 as the year that "HD Radio reaches the mainstream consumer." With the number of radio stations broadcasting an IBOC digital hybrid signal expected to double next year, Struble has vowed to move Ibiquity's manufacturing partners toward delivering new HD Radio products at lower prices, and to make significant inroads in the OEM automotive receiver arena in 2006.
Ibiquity will host an exhibition from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the Bellini ballroom of the Sands Expo and Convention Center on Tuesday Jan. 3, featuring new cars equipped with OEM HD Radio products and telematics, as well as several aftermarket automotive and tabletop receivers. Las Vegas FM stations KSTJ and KXTE-FM, already transmitting digital signals, will provide multicasts decodable on all receivers displayed, along with live traffic and navigation data. Visitors will also get a preview of Ibiquity's new HD Radio retailer training site located at www.cyberscholar.com.
The HD Radio story will also be promoted at vendor exhibitor booths as Alpine Electronics, Audio Design Associates, Boston Acoustics, Day Sequerra, Delphi, Dension USA, Eclipse (Fujitsu Ten), Kenwood USA, Panasonic, Philips Consumer Electronics, Philips Semiconductors, Polk Audio, Alexis Park, Sangean America, Visteon and Yamaha display their respective HD Radio product lines.
HD Radio will headline two conference panels as well. At 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 5, Ibiquity's Bob Struble will appear in "The Return of Radio," an exploration of satellite and terrestrial digital radio. Topics under discussion will include how services like podcasting may affect the satellite radio landscape. Moderating the panel will be Susan Kevorkian, program manager of consumer markets audio at IDC. Likewise, Joe D'Angelo will represent Ibiquity as a panelist at a Wednesday, Jan. 4 session entitled "From low bandwidth to high bandwidth: "Who's making the money now and who will be making money in the future?" It will be moderated by Mark Fitzgerald, senior automotive analyst Automotive Practice at Strategy Analytics. The 2:40 p.m. session will be hosted at the Rio Hotel.
Detailed information on HD Radio related booths and events at CES is available at www.ibiquity.com
IBOC Across America
IBOC By State: Montana
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.
Public Radio Association
||New Media Broadcasters
HD Radio Terminology
An introduction into the language surrounding IBOC.
system protocol stack: The ordered protocols associated with data processing in the transmitter and receiver.
frequency partition: (For FM IBOC) a group of OFDM subcarriers containing data subcarriers and a reference subcarrier.