IBOC Update - Mar 9, 2005

March 9, 2005


  • FCC Clarifies Position on IBOC Multicasts
  • Neural Audio "Brains" NPR and Ibiquity Teams
  • DRM Testing in Mexico Expands to include Commercial Radio
  • Special Broadcasts, Network Unveiling Accompany DRM Assembly
  • Alpine Will Offer HD Radio Product This Summer
  • Study: Satellite Radio Demand Going Up in The Great White North
  • BE to Showcase New Data Product Line at NAB
  • DAB Goes Dark in Finland
  • IBOC Across America
  • HD Radio Terminology
  • White Paper Reveals IBOC Digital/Analog Signal Alignment Technique

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    FCC Clarifies Position on IBOC Multicasts
    Washington - Mar 8, 2005 - In a Public Notice dated March 8, the FCC recognized the feasibility of using FM IBOC technology for the transmission of multiple program audio channels, and recognized the progress made in this area by NPR and its "Tomorrow Radio" technology initiative.

    At the same time, the Commission noted that operation in the multicast audio mode is clearly not authorized under the current notification procedures in place for FM broadcasters currently operating IBOC digital transmission using Ibiquity's HD Radio standard. In order to operate with multiple audio streams, IBOC broadcasters must first request and receive experimental authorization from the FCC.

    The notice goes on to detail the authorization filing procedure as follows:

    "The staff will continue to authorize multiple digital audio transmissions as experimental operations under the provisions of 47 C.F.R. 73.1510. Requests for experimental authority pursuant to Section 73.1510 require only an informal application, typically a letter, and include no fee or form. The staff normally approves requests to participate in this type of experimental program within a week of receipt. The matter of expanded notification procedures will be addressed in the next Report and Order in this proceeding. For additional information, contact Susan Crawford or Ann Gallagher at the Audio Division, Media Bureau at (202) 418-2700".

    The complete document is available at hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-05-609A1.doc.

    Left to right: Starling, Roe, Reams, Andrews, Pappas.

    Neural Audio "Brains" NPR and Ibiquity Teams
    Neural Audio presented its "Broadcast Brain" Award to four National Public Radio (NPR) program participants for their contribution to NPR's 2005 New Year's broadcast of "Toast of the Nation," - the first live national broadcast ever carried in 5.1 surround sound. Receiving the award were Mike Starling, NPR vice president of engineering; Ben Roe, NPR director of music; Jan Andrews, NPR senior engineer; and Mike Pappas, KUVO-FM, Denver, chief engineer.

    Also receiving honors were Ibiquity Digital and its vice president of after market business development, Mike Lyons, in recognition of their recent HD Radio compatibility certification of Neural's 5.1 digital surround audio system.

    In making the presentation, Neural Audio President Mark Seigle cited the 13-hour "Toast of the Nation" team's commitment to bringing 5.1 surround and other new technology to NPR listeners across the country.

    Neural Audio, in conjunction with Harris Broadcast, supplied the audio processing and surround sound technology for the NPR event that highlighted 5.1 mixes from venues in Paris; Boston; Washington; Manhattan; The Apollo Theater in New York, Clarksdale, MS; and Oakland, CA.

    DRM Testing in Mexico Expands to include Commercial Radio
    Mexico's Cámara Nacional de la Industria de Radio y Televisión (CIRT) has announced that it will begin conducting DRM tests this spring over a commercial station of one of its members, Radio Centro of Mexico City. This development expands the scope of DRM testing in Mexico into the commercial radio realm for the first time. The announcement comes on the heels of a Feb. 9 announcement that Radio Educación, the country's public, cultural and educational network, had received government authorization to begin DRM test transmissions.

    "We are very interested to evaluate the DRM system, in particular its medium-wave/AM simulcast modes, as soon as possible," said Ernesto Reyes Ramirez, CIRT's director of engineering. "The test results will be presented to the Ministry of Communications and Transportation."

    DRM's Live Broadcasts Schedule and additional information are available at www.drm.org.

    Special Broadcasts, Network Unveiling Accompany DRM Assembly
    Radio France is revealing plans for an all-digital distribution network at the Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) consortium's annual General Assembly meeting. The new distribution network will provide listeners with a range of digital broadcasting technologies, including DRM. The announcement comes as Radio France hosts DRM's General Assembly at its headquarters in Paris this week. While DRM system specifications currently deal only with broadcasting bands below 30MHz, this week's General Assembly will vote on a proposal to extend it to broadcast bands up to 120MHz. DRM's full-time commercial launch in the European LW/MW market is scheduled to take place later this year.

    As a technology demonstration, Radio France will transmit special preview DRM medium-wave/AM broadcasts of France Culture audio and multimedia content during each day of the assembly. The broadcasts will be carried over TDF's Villebon transmitting station, located about 20 kilometres southwest of Paris, using an existing 300kW medium-wave solid state transmitter modified for the DRM broadcasts.

    "France's upcoming migration to digital radio necessitated our investment in a new distribution network that will work seamlessly with any digital broadcasting system, such as DRM, DAB, DVB and wireless Internet," said Sylvain Anichini, deputy general manager of Radio France. "We have designed a flexible networking system that allows for a range of options, without the constraints of long-term technological choices. This will enable Radio France to move forward in line with digital broadcasting's evolution, including domains such as source coding and datacasting."

    Radio France is a public-service corporation created in 1975, and operates about 50 radio stations throughout the nation.


    Alpine Will Offer HD Radio Receiver This Summer
    Alpine Electronics has confirmed that its new DVA-9965 HD Radio-equipped car receiver should be arriving at retail outlets in August. The DVD-based unit was introduced in January at the International Consumer Electronics Show.

    The high-end, in-dash DVD/CD/MP3/WMA/AM/FM tuner is Alpine's first to incorporate an HD Radio tuner with integrated support for Dolby Digital and DTS. The unit will also feature a fully digital control head with "touch pad" technology and a high intensity color display.

    Stephen Witt, Alpine's vice president of brand marketing, calls the DVA-9965 "an answer to (the) call for better digital performance in the vehicle."

    Study: Satellite Radio Demand Going Up in The Great White North
    CNW Telbec reports that a recent study by Decima Research suggests that Canadian consumer interest in satellite radio continues to grow, with almost 20 percent of Canadians - four million people - expressing interest in subscribing to a Canadian satellite radio service within the next year.

    System proponents backed by U.S. satellite providers XM and Sirius are likely to cite the study as evidence of consumer demand for such a service. Both groups have applications before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

    Sirius says their Canadian program line-up would include five Canadian channels in both official languages, including two new services from CBC/Radio-Canada that would focus on new music, emerging talent and youth-oriented programming. A channel of 100 percent Canadian content would also be provided.

    A third application pending before the CRTC - one from CHUM/Astral - would employ terrestrial DAB transmitters for a subscription digital radio service.

    BE to Showcase New Data Product Line at NAB
    Broadcast Electronics will introduce an array of broadcast data products at the NAB2005 Convention in Las Vegas in April. The company says the comprehensive new product line is an outgrowth of its recent acquisition of The Radio Experience.

    Items on display will include an updated RDS generator, based on The Radio Experience RDS generators, and RDS Content Validation Monitor, which decodes RDS data and verifies message transmission.

    New software solutions include the Data 110 application for basic RDS and Web text display of title and artist information and the comprehensive Data 120 application for advanced data over FM, HD Radio and the Internet.

    BE will also feature its Web 210 service that presents CD cover graphics on the Web and enables e-commerce capabilities. In addition, the company's Web 220 product is said to add search engine capabilities, so visitors may see songs that have played earlier in the day or as far back as station data allows.

    BE's booth demonstration will also include simulated broadcasts of FM, HD Radio main program service, two secondary program services and a wealth of related data on analog and digital channels, as well as over the Internet.

    DAB Goes Dark in Finland
    The Finnish broadcasting company, YLE, will discontinue operation of its DAB transmission network, primarily due to low receiver penetration in that country. YLE had been offering listeners all its available channels via DAB in the south of the country, including an all-day spoken word service, a classical music channel and two foreign language services, YLE World and YLE Mondo.

    DAB arrived in Finland in 1997 as an energy-efficient means of radio transmission, but commercial broadcasters there shied away from it due to the prohibitive costs of setting up a new transmission network.

    Although DAB adoption has been has been gaining momentum in the United Kingdom, retailers and manufacturers have been reluctant to bring the cheap, mass-produced sets now available there to other European markets where demand is low. There have even been discussions in Germany, where DAB's rollout has been less than stellar, of a desire to follow Finland's example.

    Meanwhile, YLE says it will continue some digital radio transmission via its digital TV network, while other broadcasts will be made available via the Internet. The company will also continue to monitor technological developments across Europe in an effort to determine what emerging multimedia distribution technology might compensate for the demise of DAB.

    YLE also said that it intends to retain its capacity to resume DAB broadcasting, in the event it should become a pan-European distribution standard.

    IBOC Across America

    IBOC by state: Oklahoma
    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.

    Stations Format Market Owner On Air
    KCCU-FM 89.3 Classical Lawton Cameron University No
    KIZS-FM 92.1 CHR Tulsa Clear Channel Radio Yes
    KJTH-FM 89.7 Christian Music Ponca City Love Station, Inc. Yes
    KMCU-FM 88.7 Classical Wichita Falls, TX Cameron University No
    KOSU-FM 91.7 Classical Stillwater Oklahoma State University No
    KQLL-FM 106.1 Oldies Tulsa Clear Channel Radio Yes
    KTBT-FM 101.5 HpHop/RhyBl Tulsa Clear Channel Radio Yes
    KWTU-FM 88.7
    Tulsa University of Tulsa Yes

    HD Radio Terms

    The language of HD Radio

    protected contour: A representation of the theoretical signal strength of a radio station that appears on a map as a closed polygon surrounding the station's transmitter site. The FCC defines a particular signal strength contour, such as 60dBuV/m for certain classes of station, as the protected contour. In allocating the facilities of other radio stations, the protected contour of an existing station may not be overlapped by certain interfering contours of the other stations. The protected contour coarsely represents the primary coverage area of a station, within which there is little likelihood that the signals of another station will cause interference with its reception.

    OEM: (original equipment manufacturer) Generally describes the "factory" radio installed in a car before purchase.


    White Paper Reveals IBOC Digital/Analog Signal Alignment Technique
    A new white paper detailing how broadcasters can accurately adjust the time alignment between their analog and HD Radio digital signals using only a Kenwood consumer HD Radio receiver has been made available by Broadcast Signal Labs on the company's Internet website.

    The time alignment issue is of critical importance to broadcasters, because of the need for seemless "blending" in consumer's receivers during the inevitable transitions between analog and digital modes.

    The following is a step-by-step procedure that requires a regulated 13.8V dc power source capable of delivering several amps of current, and a Kenwood KTC HR100 HD Radio unit along with a compatible head unit to control it. The receiver and any ancillary equipment should be located at a location where fine adjustment to the station's analog signal delay can easily be made:

  • Press the reset button, recessed in the front panel of the head unit (note that this will clear all settings and return the radio to its factory default settings).
  • Within the next 30 seconds press the SRC (Source) key until "HD Radio" appears on the display.
  • Wait for the HD Radio display to convert to a frequency display (at a default frequency)-do not tune in a station yet.
  • Some head units have a Next key in the upper right hand corner. These models have function keys instead of Preset keys. Press the Next key until the display shows "1 2 3 4 5 6" at the bottom, indicating that the function keys are acting like Preset keys (if the unit doesn't have a Next key on the head unit, skip this step).
  • Press Play/Pause five times.
  • Press Preset keys in sequence: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Nothing should happen while doing these last 11 presses. If the radio reacts to key presses before finishing the sequence, go back to Reset and try again).
  • "Alignment" should now appear on the display. Unit is now in broadcaster mode; stations can now be tuned. Most radio features can be accessed normally.
  • Analog/digital audio time alignment mode is engaged by pressing Preset 5. Right front channel is analog broadcast audio and left front channel is digital broadcast audio.

    Once the digital and analog signals are apparent, and a fully mono source is being broadcast, the analog delay can be optimized by using a set of headphones to listen for best phase match, or by using an oscilloscope operating in the traditional X/Y phase mode.

    A full copy of the Broadcast Signal Labs paper is available at: www.broadcastsignallab.com/white_papers/2005jan_kenwood_hdradio_alignment.pdf

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