2011 has not started out well for advocates of HD Radio. Last week, Microsoft announced it would discontinue production of the Zune portable media player – one of only two portable devices that had built-in HD reception capability. Earlier in the year, at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, HD Radio’s presence was pretty underwhelming. Not good indicators for increasing uptake by listeners.
In addition, the political campaign to defund federal support of public broadcasting has HD squarely in its sights. Over the last decade or so, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has invested more than $50 million in HD Radio, through infrastructure “upgrade” subsidies to CPB-funded stations and support of National Public Radio’s in-house research division, NPR Labs. Continue reading “More Lumps for HD Radio”
With little fanfare on Friday, the FCC approved a blanket four-fold increase in the power of FM-HD digital sidebands, and also established procedures for stations to apply for a power-hike of up to 10x.
This outcome was no surprise. For the last two years the proprietors of HD Radio, iBiquity Digital Corporation, and National Public Radio have been wrangling over just how much of a digital FM power boost is needed to replicate existing FM stations’ analog coverage. Continue reading “Bring The Noise Redux: FCC Okays FM-HD Power Increase”
As predicted, the two major players in the HD Radio space – iBiquity, the proprietor of the technology, and NPR, its primary broadcast innovator – have jointly petitioned the FCC to increase the power level of HD Radio sidebands. They’re asking for a blanket 4x increase to the power of digital sidebands for both AM and FM stations, and includes proposed methodology for allowing selected stations to increase their digital power levels by 10x. The joint filing even includes helpful language the FCC is encouraged to adopt in full as as regulation. The National Association of Broadcasters was not far behind in lauding the deal.
Given that this will obviously involve a modification of the “spectral mask” under which a stations’ power must exceed, this request skewers once and for all the notion that HD radio “does not use new spectrum.” Continue reading “iBiquity/NPR HD Power Hike In Play”
I smell history repeating itself.
Not 10 years ago, National Public Radio acted as an important ally – and a foil – for a concerted attempt by commercial broadcasters to quash LPFM stations before birth. A lot’s changed since then (for example, NPR only halfheartedly opposes LPFM expansion now), but there’s still a ways to go before that service reaches its full potential.
The historical lesson learned is: if it weren’t for NPR’s anti-LPFM stance at the time, which provided the anti-LPFM campaign with a semblance of technical “impartiality” and brought important “liberal” cachet to the legislative fight, LPFM would be an even stronger service today. Continue reading “Pubcasters to be Determinant Factor in FM-HD Power Inrease”
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. Continue reading “Stations Experiment With Beefed-Up HD”
If you haven’t noticed already, it’s that time of the semester when teaching takes precedence over everything else; extended office-hours are in full effect and this spring’s crop of students are both insightful and delightful. In about a month from now I’ll begin an eight-month break from that “grind,” during which I plan to dissertate full-time. Since I’ll be spending most of my waking hours in front of my computer, that means you can most likely expect more stuff here.
But, in the interim, from the better-late-than-never notable news department comes word of a new project from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to better-study the implications of interference between FM radio stations that might operate under a proposed increase in the strength of their HD (digital) sidebands. Although the announcement simply formalizes and expands upon a policy the FCC’s had in place for several months now, it’s an interesting development for two particular reasons. Continue reading “CPB/NPR to Fit Square HD Peg Into Round Technical Hole”
Sporadic news-updates will continue for the next month and a half, as I tackle my last preliminary exam. But the rest of the site is current (save for a batch-check of the links library for broken stuff). So, in the meantime here are some updates on a few of my favorite things:
HD Radio: Industry skepticism of and resistance to the technology is growing. Oppositional broadcast engineers, who used to be considered on the “fringes” are now getting at least a semblance of respect in the trades dialogue. Much of this has to do with the real-world impact of HD-related interference, most notable now on the AM band but soon coming to an FM dial near you, especially when stations are given permission to boost the power of their digital sidebands (at the expense of analog signal quality). Results of an HD signal-related interference analysis commissioned by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting – the first of its kind to really go into detail about FM-HD-related interference – should have been released by now, but hasn’t yet. Continue reading “Interesting Notes of Miscellany”
This week NPR’s All Things Considered aired a story on the plight of WAVM, a 10-watt FM radio station run by the local high school in Maynard, Massachusetts. The station stands to be forced off the air by Living Proof, Inc., an evangelical broadcast outlet based in California. WAVM is the only local radio station available in Maynard and enjoys wide community support.
NPR’s Andrea Shea got totally hoodwinked about the interloper kicking WAVM off the dial.
Shea set up WAVM’s vulnerable situation by mentioning the demise of the 10-watt Class D FM station license, calling WAVM one of the “predecessors of today’s low power FM stations.” She says the FCC did away with Class D licenses in the 1970s the after the FM band “became crowded.” Continue reading “NPR Punts on Godcaster Proliferation”
Paul the Mediageek notes National Public Radio’s Morning Edition ran a piece on pirate radio in Florida last week that screams “lame.” The reporter, WGCU news director Amy Tardif, only talked to a representative from Clear Channel (who whines about losing advertisers to a pirate), someone from the Florida Association of Broadcasters, and a cop on the hunt of a station. This makes her come off as a well-played, ignorant cracker. And the news hook is only a year and a half old. Possibly one of the worst pieces on the subject ever run on public broadcasting. Continue reading “Public Radio Hacks On Florida Pirate”
REC Networks has collected and posted summaries of several “constituency comments” (those filed by groups representing communities of interest), doing the thankless job of weeding through the auto-file form-fill spam.
The National Association of Broadcasters, predictably, opposes any changes to the FCC’s LPFM rules that might expand the service, continuing to peddle fully-debunked claims that 100-watt stations have the potential to cause “harmful interference” to stations 10 to 1,000 times their size in terms of power.
The comments – which took three NAB executives, three staffers (including former high-level FCC staff), and two law clerks to write and sign off on – also rubs the agency’s nose in the fact that it is prohibited by congressional fiat from relaxing channel-spacing rules to create space for LPFM stations in urban areas. Continue reading “NAB/NPR on LPFM: Forked Tongues”