After feeling like I’ve been shouting into the wind alone for so long about this, it’s great to see others taking a critical perspective on HD’s fundamental flaws. Check the following blogs for lots of information about this tainted technology, especially since these folks are also doing an excellent job aggregating news coverage of the issue:
Is HD Radio a Farce? – A good collection of information on what’s happening both within the radio industry and among consumers, who, by and large, seem to be holding their noses once they get a whiff of those “secret stations between frequencies.”
HD Radio on the Medium Wave (AM) Band – An excellent, if somewhat disorganized, collection of coverage about the increasing problems with AM-HD interference. Continue reading “Growing Resistance to HD Radio”
The issue of interference involving digital radio broadcasting on the AM band using the IBOC protocol has made it into the corporate media. The Wall Street Journal ran a piece earlier this month on the problem. However, smoothes it over as an “unexpected consequence,” which is false: the interference is due in part to the very design of the HD Radio system. Digital-related interference also affects FM transmissions, though not nearly as severely.
The article does note that Leonard Kahn, inventor of the CAM-D AM digital broadcasting protocol, has filed suit against iBiquity on antitrust grounds. As iBiquity’s backers are essentially the major broadcasters and consumer electronics manufacturers, Kahn accuses the “cartel” of imposing a proprietary digital radio standard on the country before the FCC’s had a chance to evaluate competitor technologies like his. Continue reading “IBOC Update: HD Radio in the Media, Court”
Last month the Commission released a further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry on the implementation of digital radio in the U.S. When it first gave the nod to the rollout of Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) in 2002, it admitted that it was not sure how it would work in the real world, but the intervening two years seem have provided the “evidence” necessary to move ahead with its nationwide expansion.
While the broadcast industry has portrayed the In-Band On-Channel (IBOC) DAB transmission system as ready for deployment, the truth is only the hybrid digital/analog “transition” system has actually been deployed, or is even close to ready. The National Radio Systems Committee (a joint effort of the National Association of Broadcasters and Consumer Electronics Association) has not yet tested the “all-digital systems.” Continue reading “Digital Radio Moves Incrementally at FCC”
Digital radio is essentially streaming audio over the air. Anyone who’s handled an audio file knows the rule of thumb: the better the bitrate, the better the sound. In the file-sharing community most songs are offered is 128kbps – okay, not CD quality, but not cruddy like a tape dub. Some audio encoders offer better quality than others, due to subtle differences in the encoding algorithm each system uses.
For “HD Radio,” the U.S. brand name for digital radio, the bitrate for most stations is expected to be between 64-96kbps, with AM running as low as 36kbps. iBiquity, the company behind the system, promises “enhanced sound fidelity” at these bitrates. In May the National Radio Systems Committee disagreed, suspending the official standard-setting process for the IBOC technology (at the heart of “HD Radio”) after declaring its audio quality unsuitable for broadcast, jeopardizing the full-scale rollout of consumer receivers for that all-important holiday season in the process. Continue reading “IBOC Overhaul: Good As Advertised?”
A couple of additional data points to add to the first reported FCC pirate radio enforcement action of the year: Kent, WA’s Deez Nutz 93.7 received not one, but two visits from the FCC on Friday, January 9.
The person who lives where the station was housed was not home at the time of the first visit, but the FCC agents on the case contacted the landlord of the property and “instructed” them to dismantle the antenna and cut the coaxial cable feed line. Continue reading “Update #2 – More details on Deez Nutz' Bust; Stations-in-a-Suitcase @ Flea Markets?; AM IBOC – Listen For Yourself”
When the Federal Communications Commission approved the rollout of digital radio (“HD Radio,” as it’s being branded to consumers) in October, it did so with one qualifier. Interference is a big problem with the digital radio standard that the U.S. broadcast industry has developed for itself, and the FCC admitted as much when it refused to authorize digital transmissions on the AM band during nighttime hours.
AM stations that have tested the in-band-on-channel (IBOC) digital radio technology on the air discovered it could cause heavy interference to stations on nearby frequencies, manifesting as a hash-type noise rendering the stations unlistenable. The FCC actually received complaints from radio listeners during the digital radio rulemaking proceedings about the tests and the interference, and they are on the record. The FM version of HD Radio is also susceptible to interference problems.
This did not stop the FCC from authorizing its use with great fanfare, save the one caveat on nighttime AM broadcasting. Continue reading “At Least We Tried”
Lots of activism in the form of paper-filing is taking place right now at the Federal Communications Commission.
A broad coalition of consumer rights, labor, and media democracy groups – representing both people working within and outside the media industry – have filed a petition to extend the FCC’s public comment deadline on its proposal to radically overhaul media ownership rules. The current comment deadline is December 2 – the FCC only planned to give the public a 90-day window in which to comment on this massive proposal – the coalition wants the comment period extended until April. Continue reading “Multiple Skirmishes @ the FCC”
At its October 10 meeting, the Commission’s decision to approve a standard for digital radio drew the headlines. But there were three items on the meeting’s agenda, one of which was the Enforcement Bureau’s release of its yearly Progress Report.
We’ve condensed the microradio-related enforcement news from the presentation and assembled a special report on what was revealed. My favorite highlight involves the Bureau’s number-fudging on enforcement actions finally catching up with it: the report claims fewer “pirate radio” enforcement actions than previous agency statements suggest. The discrepancy is not gigantic, but large enough to be noteworthy. Continue reading “Behind the Numbers @ the FCC Enforcement Bureau”
It took only 14 minutes today for the Federal Communications Commission to dramatically decide the future of radio broadcasting.
The FCC adopted a Report and Order authorizing the rollout of digital radio. The vote allows radio stations to immediately install In-Band On-Channel (IBOC)-based transmission equipment and, upon notifying the FCC, begin broadcasting using the new transmission standard.
Stations will initially run a hybrid analog/digital signal, so as to not make everybody’s analog receivers immediately obsolete. At some undetermined time in the future the FCC will require radio broadcasting to go completely digital – the hope is when that time comes the public will have forked out the hundreds of dollars each for the new “HD Radios” they’ll need. Continue reading “FCC Admits Ignorance on Digital Radio, Adopts Standard Anyway”
Note: All audio is in 48kbps/44KHz mono MP3 format.
Speakers are listed in the order they appeared.
W. Kenneth Ferree – Chief, FCC Media Bureau (1:54, 673K)
Short and to the point, Ferree set up the charade by brandishing a logbook of some of the first radio licenses the FCC ever issued.
Notable quotes: Continue reading “FCC Adopts IBOC-DAB”