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News Archive: July 2009

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7/20/09 - iBiquity's International Marketing Diminished [link to this story]

This little blurb in a trade publication notes the fact that HD Radio's point-man for global sales is stepping down. He is not being replaced; the company is construing this as (yet another) cost-cutting move.

Regardless of the veracity of this statement, it can't bode well for a digital radio protocol that has no real traction outside of the United States - and very little domestically to boot.

One might look at this as another throe in the agonizing death that HD Radio is undergoing. The more I research this subject, the more I realize that there is simply too much money invested in this dog to put it to sleep peacefully; its denouement will take years.

7/12/09 - Stations Experiment With Beefed-Up HD [link to this story]

It's already been well-established that the digital radio sidebands of HD Radio signals have the potential (in both the AM and FM environments) to cause significant interference, both to neighboring stations and, in some cases, to the analog host-signal of an HD-enabled station. The issue is so significant that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio have embarked on not one, but two studies to examine the problem. The first report was pretty damning.

How does iBiquity, the proprietor of HD Radio, respond? By asking for a 10-fold increase in the power of digital FM sidebands. And while the CPB/NPR jury is still out (results from the latest interference analysis won't be released for at least the next couple of months), HD's proponents are now bargaining like a used-car salesman.

They've filed comments with the FCC asking not for the original 10dB signal increase for FM-HD signals, but instead for a 6dB increase. This is based on the tried-and-true tactic of creating facts on the ground - by citing anecdotal evidence from FM stations which have received special temporary authority to operate with augmented HD sidebands.

By which method would you rather have such important technical media policy decided? By a peer-reviewed, professionally-selected engineering firm doing proper scientific analysis to measure impacts on a national scale, or on the good word of some broadcasters who have historically cherry-picked data to make HD Radio palatable in the first place? I'd take the former; I hope the FCC does. Reply-comments to the agency on the proposed FM-HD power hike are due on July 17.