Been a busy month so far: I started out in San Francisco at the Union for Democratic Communications annual conference, where I got to give a preview of my new book and its gory details. It was well-received, especially among policy scholars who hunger for some good old-fashioned muckraking.
Then I was in Australia last week for the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia’s annual conference. I was the Saturday keynote, and compared to Australia’s digital transition, the U.S. looks positively retarded. The talk itself was recorded, but no word on when it will be online. Continue reading “Radio's Digital Dilemma On the Road”
And sooner than expected: the FCC will soon open a comment window for a plethora of proposals to assist beleaguered broadcasters. Paul Riismandel at Radio Survivor has a decent breakdown of the agency’s primary suggestions, and also notes that there’s "nothing on the all-digital question." If only this were true.
Just because the all-digital idea is not sharply delineated in the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking doesn’t mean the agency’s not interested in it. Policy studies necessitate close reading. For example, the agency notes its permissiveness with all-digital AM-HD experimentation as one of several "discrete changes" it’s made over the years "designed to further enhance the AM service" (p. 5). Continue reading “AM Revitalization Initiative Unleashed: All Digital Transition On the Table”
The quiet collection of "evidence" on which to justify an all-digital HD Radio mandate for AM stations continues.
After some stealth experimentation on a CBS station in Charlotte, North Carolina late last year, there’s word of two other AM stations in the state conducting all-digital broadcast-tests this summer. The guinea pigs were WBT, a 50,000-watt station owned by Greater Media (also in Charlotte) and WNCT, a 50,000-watt (day)/10,000-watt (night) Beasley Broadcast-owned AM station in Greenville.
WBT secured experimental authorization from the FCC to conduct these tests just two weeks before they took place; WNCT also asked for fast-track authority less than a month before its all-digital broadcasts. Continue reading “Firming the Foundation for an All-Digital AM Mandate”
In many parts of the world, radio is slowly transitioning to a digital transmission platform—but so far, this new frontier has not been plumbed by pirates. Part of this is due to the relatively immature state of radio’s digital transition, but some of the systems have been around long enough that they’re ripe for experimentation.
In very simple terms, the primary thing to keep in mind is that the heart of a digital radio transmission system is the software that controls the transmitter. The more freely-available the software, the more possible to play with. In global contention, there are three contending platforms of note, though their DIY-potential varies: Continue reading “Pirate Broadcasting in the Digital Age”
More evidence that the market in FM translator stations is maturing quickly.
Saga Communications, a radio conglomerate that specializes in mid-market acquisitions, owns 91 stations across the country. Of these, some three dozen are FM translators: second-class radio stations limited to a power of 250 watts or less that rebroadcast the signals of other stations.
Saga is an aggressive player in the practice of using FM-HD Radio signals to feed programming to analog translators. Since very few people actually listen to HD Radio, these mini-signals appear to be "new" stations, though in most cases they’re completely canned programming of a format that wouldn’t otherwise be profitable on a real full-power FM station. Continue reading “Deceptive Advertising: Translators as "Metro Stations"”
It’s been less than two months since I turned in the manuscript to Routledge, but there’s already some interest in what’s coming. I’ll be speaking on Radio’s Digital Dilemma in a variety of places around the globe this fall:
Brooklyn College Media Nights, New York, October 15. Consider this a dress-rehearsal of the book-talk, which I first tested on unsuspecting radio scholars this spring in Portland, to some shock and no heckling. This is part of a two-day event organized by my work-home, BC’s Department of Television and Radio, and will feature a variety of speakers on pressing topics regarding media and journalism more broadly. Tickets to Media Nights are free, but you do have to reserve them. For more details on the event, follow me on Twitter. Continue reading “Radio's Digital Dilemma: The Proto-Book Tour”
Every so often, iBiquity Digital Corporation CEO Robert Struble pens a column on iBiquity’s corporate website. His latest missive actually (and unintentionally) puts a very fine point on the malaise that is the U.S. digital radio transition.
"The one constant for all successful media transitions has been the passage of time, and that patient strategy is working for HD Radio Technology as well," writes Struble. He claims that HD receiver penetration is on a strong upward trend, with a new digital radio sold "every six seconds." Continue reading “iBiquity CEO: The Future of Digital Radio is Analog”
Today I sent Routledge the manuscript for Radio’s Digital Dilemma: Broadcasting in the 21st Century. 81,221 words over eight chapters, 285 typescript pages in all. The publisher’s new synopsis: Continue reading “Radio's Digital Dilemma Out the Door”
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai recently spoke at the the Missouri Association of Broadcasters’ annual convention, where he repeated his call for the FCC to undertake an "AM Revitalization Initiative." Telling the assembled broadcasters that "you’ve got a friend in me," he again listed off the possible policy options to help the beleaguered band, one of which includes its complete digitalization.
If Pai is truly a friend of broadcasters and the public interest, and seriously considers digitalization a viable option for AM, he should open the inquiry to alternatives to HD Radio, such as Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM). Continue reading “Expanding the Options for Digital AM”
Last month’s stalemate between iBiquity Digital Corporation, the proprietor of HD Radio, and upstart-innovator Digital PowerRadio appears to have been broken.
For those just tuning in: DPR claims to have invented a process that can make HD receivers much more sensitive, allowing for better reception of digital radio signals. iBiquity asserts that DPR’s method is outdated and meaningless. Since iBiquity owns all aspects of HD Radio, it also controls the code necessary to verify or debunk DPR’s claims. Continue reading “The Limits of "Authorized" Innovation: Settling the DPR Dilemma”