A consortium of broadcasters, including the The European Broadcast Union, the BBC, and several commercial broadcasters in the U.S., U.K, and Australia have launched the “Universal Smartphone Radio Project,” a campaign to lobby for building radio reception into smartphones. Sales of stand-alone radio receivers (both analog and digital) have been in steady decline for the last decade, and as media consumption-time shifts to mobile devices, radio broadcasters have found themselves by and large not in the mix.
The fix for this is what is now being called “hybrid radio,” defined as a radio signal plus a mobile data connection to provide enhanced content beyond audio and some interactivity. In the EU, this effort is being led by RadioDNS; in the States, it’s NextRadio. The campaign’s been in the talking stages since at least February and covered extensively in a presentation to the EBU in July. Continue reading “FM-in-Smartphones Effort Goes Global”
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers holds its annual Broadcast Symposium in San Antonio this week. And if I could be there, I’d be hitting up the last session of Thursday afternoon, for there may be a few fireworks.
There are two planned speakers: first up is David Layer, the Director of NAB Labs’ Radio Technology Committee, who will give a status report on the state of all-digital AM-HD signal testing. The most recent round concluded in Seattle, and depending on who you ask, the results were either spectacular or so-so. Continue reading “NAB v. DPR: Showdown in San Antonio?”
Fresh off the heels of the NAB Radio Show came news that an FM broadcaster in Norway is testing the all-digital FM-HD Radio system. According to Radio World, the tests have been conducted under the auspices of the Norweigan Local Radio Association, the industry’s longest-running trade association.
Recently, two large commercial broadcasters split off from the NLRA and have created their own lobbying arm, advocating for the eventual switch-off of FM broadcasting in Norway (in favor of DAB+). The NLRA has long promoted allowing broadcasters to retain their legacy FM infrastructure; is this affair with HD Radio a strategic maneuver to convince Norwegian regulators to drop the switchoff? Continue reading “HD Radio: New Frontier in Norway?”
(Earlier this summer, Radio World invited me to write a guest commentary on HD Radio, in the run-up to this week’s NAB Radio Show in Indianapolis. It will appear in the September 10 issue.)
After spending several years assembling the definitive history of HD Radio’s development and proliferation, I’ve learned some uncomfortable truths. Continue reading “Getting Past the HD Love/Hate Relationship”
After breaking the story about General Motors abandoning HD Radio in several makes and models, I watched with interest to see what the industry reaction would be. Continue reading “GM Backs Away from HD: Industry Yawns?”
When Radio Ink publisher Eric Rhoads breathlessly reported in March 2013 that auto manufacturers were considering doing away with AM/FM radios in their glass dashboards, the reaction was disbelief. But new developments are undeniable: BMW announced the specs of two of its new electric vehicles earlier this month, and neither include AM radio (or a CD player).
BMW says the cars’ electric motor interferes with AM reception. Could this become a trend among other electric-powered vehicles? Broadcasters obviously hope not, and the NAB has reached out to BMW asking it to reconsider. Coupled with Disney’s recent decision to get out of AM broadcasting, one wonders if the oldest broadcast band is inexorably shuffling toward obsolescence. Continue reading “AM and HD Fading from Some Vehicles”
As industry forces continue to grapple with radio’s digital transition, the medium’s push for renewed portability got a bit more complicated this summer. Not much of a surprise that the discourse surrounding the NextRadio app mimics similar forays into the new: lovers and haters lining up with little air to breathe between them.
The latest developments began with the launch last month of Free Radio On My Phone, a public-awareness campaign for enabling FM reception in smartphones. The campaign is a joint project of NextRadio, the National Association of Broadcasters, National Public Radio, American Public Radio, and the Educational Media Foundation—all heavy-hitters in commercial, public, and religious broadcasting. EMF has also agreed to sign its entire station-roster up for enhanced NextRadio services. Continue reading “The Polarization of NextRadio”
When HD Radio was under development and policy-discussions on the technology were in their infancy, proponents of the system bragged about all of the game-changing features it would have. This included audio quality that sounded better than CD and the ability to broadcast a plethora of digital data beyond audio itself.
They also told us that digital radio signals would be more robust and easier to receive than their analog counterparts. This was a critical assertion, because HD Radio works by shoehorning digital signals onto the existing AM and FM bands, right next to analog ones, and thus to avoid interference the HD signal can only be broadcast at just a fraction of a station’s analog power output. But proponents said that was okay: HD Radio only needed a fraction of the power to kick ass and blow minds. Continue reading “Industry Mulls Second FM-HD Power Increase”
It’s been a busy year for iBiquity Digital Corporation in court, as it fends off attacks on its HD Radio patents and licensing structure. In both cases, iBiquity seems to have dodged a few bullets and may even have the upper hand. However, they also illustrate the tenuous nature of HD’s adoptive trajectory. Continue reading “iBiquity Lawyers Up to Defend Patents and Business Model”
For several years now, there’s been a growing tension between broadcasters, online radio services, and the music industry over the issue of royalties. Current law requires streaming media services to pay performance royalties on the music they stream, while historically broadcasters have been exempt from these fees (everyone pays royalties to songwriters and publishers). Continue reading “New HD Radio Loophole: Royalty-Evasion?”