Canadian Broadcasters Comment to CRTC on HD Radio

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Canadian Broadcasters Comment to CRTC on HD Radio

Apr 11, 2014 9:36 AM, By Doug Irwin, CPBE DRB AMD

Apr 7, 2014 - Whether or not to bring the HD Radio digital broadcasting format (which has been deployed in most major markets just over the border) into Canada was just one of many questions the CRTC put to the public regarding possible changes to radio policy. The questions were raised last October, and the deadline for replies to comments was last Tuesday.

Broadcasters and interest groups supported the idea that Canadian stations should be allowed to experiment with HD Radio, but most were against the idea that there should be any kind of mandatory conversion, reported HD Radio is being considered by the CRTC as a new option for bringing AM and FM radio into the "digital age." It's hoped that HD Radio will succeed where previous ideas failed (specifically, L-Band DAB).

The Canadian Association of Broadcasters, which presented comments on behalf of its members, was critical of HD Radio's practicality, pointing to its high cost to implement (in the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars) and the increased potential for interference with adjacent stations. iBiquity rebutted the CAB, saying the price of installing its technology (which includes paying a license fee to the company) may be expensive, but "does not involve the multimillion dollar investments that were part of the digital television transition."

Like the complaints made during the digital TV conversion, radio companies cannot envision an increase in revenue to justify millions in capex for new technology. Bell Media, which owns 107 radio stations, said it "has had some exploratory discussions regarding this technology, and more particularly, the supply of data services, such as weather and traffic. However, at this time, given the capital intensive requirements as well as the interference concerns, we are not proceeding any further with this initiative at this time."

The CBC responded that it is too early to "develop an informed and coherent policy with respect to HD Radio in Canada" and that strict regulation would prevent innovation.

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