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Digital Radio Update - December 6, 2006 - Radio Magazine

Digital Radio Update - December 6, 2006

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Digital Radio Update - December 6, 2006

Dec 6, 2006 8:00 AM, By Mark Krieger, CBT

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

Index:

  • Deadline Looms for EAS on Digital, Multicast
  • HD Alliance Renews Charter, Boosts Promotional Commitment
  • Karmazin: Video Services, XM Merger in Sight
  • A View from the Bleachers
  • A Report on Digital Radio North of the Border
  • IBOC by State: Illinois
  • An Introduction to the New Language Surrounding HD Radio
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    NewsDeadline Looms for EAS on Digital, Multicast
    Radio engineering staffs around the country, already stretched thin by staff cuts and multi-station HD Radio conversions, have one more wrinkle to work out before quaffing a celebratory toast with family and friends on New Years Eve. The FCC and a number of communication attorneys are reminding broadcasters that the Commission's EAS rules will be extended to most digital broadcast services effective Dec. 31, 2006.What this means for HD Radio operators is that EAS-related test and message traffic carried on the station's analog and primary digital channel must be available to listeners tuned to digital multicast program channels as well. How this is accomplished is being left up to broadcasters, but two basic approaches have been identified.One method is to force HD receivers tuned to that station's digital multicast services to default back to the primary digital or analog channel. The other approach is to install multiple relays to insert EAS messages and tests into analog, digital and multicast program channels.The FCC also notes that digital broadcasters choosing to participate in state and local EAS activations must comply with the Commission's Part 11 EAS rules. The rule extension also applies to DTV, cable and satellite broadcasters.HD Alliance Renews Charter, Boosts Promotional Commitment
    A consortium of U.S. radio ownerships groups that formed a strategic alliance to accelerate the roll-out of HD Radio one year ago has announced the renewal of its charter. In a Dec. 4 press release, HD Digital Radio Alliance CEO Peter Ferrara declared that the organization's first year marked a "wave of progress" in terms of receiver availability and public awareness of the technology. Ferrara also pledged an increased advertising commitment of up to $250 million in new avails for HD Radio promotion over alliance member stations.The alliance points to a variety of statistics as evidence that its efforts to improve HD Radio's profile during the last year are working. One example indicates the number of stations programming HD2 multicasts have increased from 89 to more than 500 within a period of one year. During that same period, the alliance claims that receiver offerings went from single digits to offerings from more than 35 devices for home and automotive markets. Ferrara also points out that price points on a number of receivers have fallen below the $200 mark for the first time.Participating radio group CEOs, not unexpectedly, expressed their enthusiasm with progress over the last year. "The speed of this roll-out is nothing short of phenomenal," said Mark Mays, CEO of Clear Channel Communications. "We've gone from having zero receivers on store shelves a year ago to having a full range of models today."Joel Hollander, CEO of CBS Radio, used the anniversary as an opportunity to "salute our fellow alliance members for making a tremendous investment in HD Digital Radio."And Peter Smyth, CEO of Greater Media, described Radio Shack's sales of its Accurian HD Radio receiver over the Thanksgiving weekend as "a huge success."BusinessKarmazin: Video Services, XM Merger in Sight
    Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin has revitalized longstanding speculation about a possible merger between his company and XM satellite radio. According to a Nov. 24 report on Smartmoney.com, Karmazin said he now believes that regulatory restraints are "not a problem."Although Karamzin and XM Chairmen Gary Parsons have discussed such a merger in the past, neither seemed convinced that the FCC or DOJ would be positively disposed toward such a high-profile consolidation. XM, which has recently experienced some rough spots with the FCC and the SEC, has reportedly been mum regarding Karmazin's latest remarks.Some Wall Street analysts have been less circumspect. According to an article published by Bloomberg's Don Jeffrey, Denver Stock Analyst Kit Spring believes there is a better that 50-50 chance that such a merger will take place in the next 18 months. Spring said the savings realized by eliminating duplication would net large savings for the emerging company, enhancing profitability.On a separate front, Karmazin has also been quoted as saying that Sirius intends to offer mobile video services by the end of 2007. Negotiations with content providers are said to be already underway.Eye on IBOCA View from the Bleachers
    Although this publication receives numerous press releases and posts from industry mailing lists, we seldom get any direct insight into what the general public thinks about the HD Radio roll-out. And so it was with great interest that I reviewed online forum responses to a Dec. 1 Business Weekonline story regarding the HD Digital Radio Alliance's latest promotional blitz.As of Radio's publication deadline, Business Week's reader forum had accumulated 19 responses to the HD Radio article. But one didn't have to read them all to get a sense that the predominant tone was skeptical at best.An armchair analysis of the posts finds two recurring themes. The first can best be summed up as HD Radio being "too little, too late � content choice is what we want, and even digital multicasts can't match the kind of choices offered by Sirius and XM."The second theme, not unfamiliar, might be summarized as "too much wrapper and not enough candy." Our industry has known for a long time that heavy spot loads are a tune-out for listeners, but that recurring complaint was met with a universal rationalization that the public simply had to accept commercials as an inescapable price paid in exchange for content. As we are all painfully aware, the public now has other options. To their credit, Clear Channel saw this storm of disaffection coming and tried to blunt it with their "Less is More" initiative, but with less than dramatic results.A smattering of other negatives were also found in the forum list. While at least one contributor reflected a fundamental ignorance of the technology, a couple of respondents indicated they had already tried out HD Radio and found the coverage and the content wanting.Finally, there were just a few lukewarm posts suggesting that HD Radio might fill a niche for those that want more content choice at a zero-based price point.So what conclusions are we left with from this decidedly unscientific sampling of public feedback on HD Radio? Certainly that now--more than ever--content is king, in radio as in other mediums. All of the technological enhancements that HD Radio brings to the consumer will make little difference if innovative programming doesn't follow. Promotional campaigns, station conversions and container ships full of inexpensive receivers may make HD Radio readily accessible to consumers, to be sure. But ultimately, it will be up to programmers to plug in the unique and relevant programming that will win and hold listener's attention.A Report on Digital Radio North of the Border
    Canada has been dealing with the issue of DAB service implementation for some time. In this issue of Radio's Digital Radio e-newsletter, we're pleased to present an interesting and informative report on the current state of digital radio in Canada, submitted by Wayne A. Stacey, PE, a broadcast consulting engineer with Wayne A. Stacey and Associates in Ottawa, Ontario.Status Report: Digital Radio Broadcasting (DRB) in CanadaTo date, Canadian broadcasters have rolled out L-Band DRB services in the four largest cities. Eureka/147 DAB at L-Band is the only form of DRB that can be licensed in Canada at the present time. More than 50 AM and FM stations are currently broadcasting 100 percent simulcasts of their analog programming.This was accomplished under a transitional DRB policy set in 1995 by our regulator, the CRTC. This policy foresaw DRB as being an eventual replacement for analog AM/FM services. The CRTC said that, until a permanent policy is established, DRB stations would primarily be licensed only to existing AM/FM licensees and the DRB facilities would mostly simulcast the programming of existing analog stations. This has not proven attractive to the public and has not encouraged consumer receiver dealers to stock and sell L-Band DRB receivers in large quantities.The CRTC now has under consideration a permanent DRB policy for Canada. When it became known that this was underway, broadcasters put the implementation of any new DRB facilities on hold until such time as this new policy is in place. When the CRTC held public hearings earlier this year, many recommendations were received. A key recommendation was that the CRTC should allow DRB stations to originate entirely new programming services that would be very attractive to listeners. Moreover, broadcasters expressed interest in providing new types of multimedia DMB services via L-Band DAB transmitters and recommended that this technology also be considered when setting the new licensing policy.Contrary to some recent reports, broadcasters in Canada are not suggesting that L-Band DRB services be dropped from our long-term strategic plans. However, they would like the regulatory freedom to re-purpose this service, to move away from the "replacement" model of the current transitional policy and to provide exciting new services that Canadians want to receive. Our best information at this time is that the new CRTC policy decisions will be released before the end of this year. After this, broadcasters will be determining their future strategies for the permanent use of allocated L-Band spectrum.As for the so-called In-Band On-Channel (IBOC) DRB option, Canadian radio broadcasters see this as a possible opportunity to transition their current analog services in the AM and FM bands to digital. During the CRTC hearings, broadcasters recommended the following with respect to IBOC services:1. The CRTC should allow the implementation by existing broadcasters of AM and FM IBOC DRB services that are 100 percent simulcast with their respective analog services (e.g. HD-1) and that broadcasters should be permitted to determine when such implementation should occur.2. With respect to ancillary FM IBOC DRB services (e.g. HD-2, HD-3, etc) the regulators should adopt provisions similar to the current policy governing audio programming services delivered via FM subcarriers (SCMO). That is, the CRTC should allow this capacity to be used by the licensee or its lessees, subject to certain specific provisions applicable only to services that compete with existing programming sources in the same market (e.g. ethnic radio services).It is important to understand that the broadcasters are recommending that these IBOC policy steps be taken only if the following happens:1. The FCC officially adopts one or more IBOC systems as voluntary standards in the United States.2.Canada's technical evaluations of IBOC technology demonstrate that the compromises necessary to implement this technology are acceptable to the regulators and the broadcasters.3. Industry Canada (our technical regulator) adopts transmission standards in Canada that are similar to the U.S. standards.FM-band IBOC tests are currently underway in Toronto, with a view to assessing point (b) above. AM-band IBOC tests are planned for next spring. Although the FM-band tests involve only the Ibiquity HD Radio system, broadcasters anticipate that AM-band testing will include the Ibiquity HD Radio system and the Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) system.In summary, Canadian broadcasters would like the freedom to use L-band DRB and AM/FM IBOC technologies as they transition their analog services into the digital world. They believe that this policy would provide the best opportunity for them to be able to compete with the vast array of new digital audio services available to consumers, such as satellite radio, Internet radio, Ipods, etc. It also provides a multi-option plan that permits them to proceed with digital radio conversions, even if one of the technology options fails to gain adequate consumer acceptance.Radio magazine extends its thanks and appreciation to Mr. Stacey for his thoughtful contribution. Readers wishing to contact him can do so at 613-745-9151 or via e-mail at wstacey@stacey.caIBOC Across AmericaIBOC by State: Illinois
    Ibiquity has a list of stations that have licensed HD Radio technology. IBOC by state will look at various states and list the stations that are making the transition.MarketStationFormatOwnerChampaign94.5 WLRW-HD1 FMAdult CHRSagaChicago780 WBBM-HD AMNewsCBS RadioChicago96.3 WBBM-HD1 FMCHRCBS RadioChicago96.3-2 WBBM-HD2
    FMDanceCBS RadioChicago91.5 WBEZ-HD1 FMNws/Tlk/InfChicago Public RadioChicago105.9 WCKG-HD1
    FMTalkCBS RadioChicago105.9-2 WCKG-HD2 FMNewsCBS RadioChicago90.9 WDCB-HD1 FMJazz/NewsCollege Of Du PageChicago97.1 WDRV-HD1 FMRockBonneville InternationalChicago97.1-2 WDRV-HD2
    FMDeep TracksBonneville InternationalChicago95.9 WERV-HD1 FMClsc HitsNextMediaChicago95.9-2 WERV-HD2
    FMThe RapidsNextMediaChicago107.5 WGCI-HD1 FMUrbanClear Channel RadioChicago107.5-2 WGCI-HD2 FMOld School Hip HopClear Channel RadioChicago720 WGN-HD AMNews/TalkWGN Continental BroadcastingChicago1390 WGRB-HD AMBlack GosplClear Channel RadioChicago100.3 WILV-HD1 FMAC/Urb/OldBonneville InternationalChicago100.3-2 WILV-HD2
    FMLove SongsBonneville InternationalChicago104.3 WJMK-HD1 FMJackCBS RadioChicago104.3-2 WJMK-HD2 FMOldies 60's/70'sCBS RadioChicago101.1 WKQX-HD1
    FMAlternativeEmmisChicago101.1-2 WKQX-HD2 FMPunk Young AlternativeEmmisChicago103.5 WKSC-HD1
    FMCHRClear Channel RadioChicago103.5-2 WKSC-HD2 FMPride RadioClear Channel RadioChicago93.9 WLIT-HD1 FMChristmasClear Channel RadioChicago93.9-2 WLIT-HD2 FMDiscoClear Channel RadioChicago97.9 WLUP-HD1 FMClsc RockEmmisChicago97.9-2 WLUP-HD2
    FMLoop LoudEmmisChicago95.5 WNUA-HD1 FMSmooth JazzClear Channel RadioChicago95.5-2 WNUA-HD2
    FMTraditional JazzClear Channel RadioChicago105.1 WOJO-HD1 FMMexicanUnivision RadioChicago105.1-2 WOJO-HD2 FMT.B.D.Univision RadioChicago106.7 WPPN-HD1 FMSpanish ACUnivision RadioChicago92.3 WPWX-HD1 FMUrbanCrawford BroadcastingChicago92.3-2 WPWX-HD2 FMClassic Hip HopCrawford BroadcastingChicago1200 WRTO-HD AMSpn/Tlk/NwsUnivision RadioChicago670 WSCR-HD AMSprts/TalkCBS RadioChicago106.3 WSRB-HD1 FMUrban ACCrawford BroadcastingChicago106.3-2 WSRB-HD2 FMNeo-SoulCrawford BroadcastingChicago96.7 WSSR-HD1 FMACNextMediaChicago101.9 WTMX-HD1 FMACBonneville InternationalChicago101.9-2 WTMX-HD2 FMAll 80'sBonneville InternationalChicago99.5 WUSN-HD1
    FMCountryCBS RadioChicago99.5-2 WUSN-HD2
    FMFuture CountryCBS RadioChicago102.7 WVAZ-HD1
    FMUrban ACClear Channel RadioChicago102.7-2 WVAZ-HD2 FMGospelClear Channel RadioChicago1690 WVON-HD AMTalkClear Channel RadioChicago96.9 WWDV-HD1
    FMRockBonneville InternationalChicago93.1 WXRT-HD1
    FMAAACBS RadioChicago93.1-2 WXRT-HD2
    FMXRT New MusicCBS RadioChicago102.3 WYCA-HD1 FMGospelCrawford BroadcastingChicago102.3-2 WYCA-HD2 FMGospelCrawford BroadcastingChicago105.5 WZSR-HD1 FMACNextMediaChicago94.7 WZZN-HD1 FMOldiesABC RadioGenoa106.3 WYRB-HD1 FMUrban ACCrawford BroadcastingGenoa106.3-2 WYRB-HD2 FMNeo-SoulCrawford BroadcastingMacomb91.3 WIUM-HD1 FMNws/Tlk/InfWestern Illinois UniversityQuincy90.3 WQUB-HD1 FMClassicalQuincy University CorporationWarsaw89.5 WIUW-HD1 FMNws/Tlk/InfWestern Illinois UniversityHD Radio TerminologyThe Language Surrounding HD Radio
    upper sideband: The group of OFDM subcarriers (subcarriers number zero through +546) above the carrier frequency.lower sideband: The group of OFDM subcarriers (subcarriers number �1 through -546) below the carrier frequency.

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