wrapup of news about HD Radio from the recent NAB Show. Some
information was reported earlier in a different format.
major companies selling cars in the United States offer HD Radio
technology in some form, according to iBiquity Digital. Six were
featured at the spring convention. Photo by Jim Peck
AUTOMAKERS FEATURE HD RADIO
All major car
manufacturers selling into the U.S. now offer HD Radio technology in
one or more models, according to iBiquity Digital Corp.
In late April,
Nissan said its first model to offer HD Radio will be the 2015
Murano, expected to arrive at dealerships in late 2014. HD Radio is
part of an upgraded audio option.
The latest additions
mean that by the end of this year, HD Radio will be available, as
standard or as an option, from 35 manufacturers for a total of 185
Approximately 90 of
those models feature HD Radio receivers as standard equipment. Five
automakers also use HD Radio technology to deliver traffic and data
information to vehicles.
developer says there are 16.5 million HD Radio-equipped vehicles on
the road; one third of new vehicles sold in the U.S. came equipped
with HD Radio in 2013. The company projects the number will reach 40
percent this year.
Why is most new
receiver activity taking place in vehicles? Because that’s where
most radio listening occurs and where stations derive the majority of
ad revenue, according to experts like BIA/Kelsey, the Radio
Advertising Bureau and Nielsen.
In fact, the table
radio is going away and being replaced by a set of speakers connected
via Bluetooth in an iPod dock, according to consumer electronics
experts; clock radios are being replaced by tablets and cellphones
and portable music devices are being replaced by smartphones.
buying table radios. They’re carrying devices,” iBiquity Senior
Director of Broadcast Business Development Jeff Detweiler told
attendees of a Broadcast Engineering Conference session.
Some 2,200 U.S.
radio stations are broadcasting with HD Radio technology, most of
them on the FM dial. These stations account for 78 percent of
domestic listening, resulting in an estimated 3.8 billion hours of
annual HD Radio listening, according to BIA.
Based on a recent
BIA report on top station revenues, 94 of the top 100 billing radio
stations are broadcasting with HD Radio technology, according to the
research company and iBiquity.
The majority of
stations broadcasting in HD Radio are in major markets. Broadcasters
in other cities have cited the cost of equipment conversion and
iBiquity licensing as barriers to conversion.
Radio World asked
iBiquity President/CEO Bob Struble what his message would be to
stations that have yet to convert.
he replied, citing HD Radio’s growing presence in the OEM world.
“If you’ve been on the fence, it’s a good time to get off the
fence,” because there are ways to monetize HD Radio, and digital
stations will have a competitive advantage over analog stations,
especially as automobile media systems evolve further.
“The connected car
is real. It’s here, and HD Radio provides broadcasters an important
and fundamental way to compete.” HD Radio audio and receiver
displays are on par with those offered by services like Pandora,
Spotify and others, Struble said in an interview.
Some critics, in
addition to citing conversion costs, have questioned iBiquity’s
receiver penetration figures and said that though HD Radio may now be
included in more dashboard systems, consumers may not realize it’s
OFFER HD RADIO IN MEXICO, CANADA
More HD Radio
receivers are becoming available in Canada and Mexico, as automakers
and receiver manufacturers begin to standardize the technology across
North America. That’s according to iBiquity Digital, which says 13
of the 35 automakers that sell HD Radio-equipped vehicles in the
United States also offer them in Canada and Mexico.
Ford, Toyota, GMC,
Chevrolet, Buick, Jeep, Dodge, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti,
Lincoln, Mitsubishi and Ram now have vehicles offering HD Radio at
dealerships throughout North America.
government approved HD Radio as the digital standard for AM and FM in
Mexico City has 13
FM HD Radio stations; they air 24 HD2 and HD3 channels. There are 25
more stations broadcasting with the technology in other areas of the
country. About 30 percent of the Mexican population has access to an
HD Radio broadcast; iBiquity says more broadcasters plan to adopt the
The tech developer
has opened an office in Mexico City to promote the rollout, and added
personnel in Mexico to support broadcasters, car dealers, brands and
Canada is evaluating
the digital radio technology. Several of its border cities have
access to HD Radio broadcasts from the U.S. Struble said the
company’s automotive and receiver partners “welcome the advances
in Canada and have expressed strong support for a unified North
American broadcast standard behind HD Radio technology.”
The company says
broadcasters and consumers will benefit from economies of scale
associated with the rollout in Canada and Mexico, and that owners in
those countries will benefit from being able to implement the more
advanced version of the system now available.
To station owners
who haven’t yet converted to HD Radio, iBiquity President/CEO Bob
Struble says: “It’s time.” Photo by Jim Peck
HD Radio aftermarket
automotive receivers are available in Canada from Alpine, Clarion,
JVC, Kenwood, Pioneer and Sony, as well as home AVR receivers from
Denon, Onkyo and Yamaha. The retail channel will continue to expand
as additional stations convert to digital broadcasts, iBiquity says.
We recently reported
Canadian Multicultural Radio launched HD Radio broadcasts on 101.3
MHz in Toronto. CMR is using HD Radio multicasts to address the needs
of a diverse community, with an HD2 in the Tamil language, HD3 in
both Hindi and Urdu, and HD4 in Punjabi.
AM TESTS CONTINUE
all-digital AM testing continue to look positive, and NAB Labs is
charting a path to asking the FCC for authorization eventually,
should broadcasters want to do that.
So said NAB Senior
Director of Advanced Engineering David Layer at a Broadcast
Engineering Conference session.
The most recent
testing involved Greater Media’s WBT(AM), Charlotte, N.C.;
Cumulus-owned KTUC(AM), Tuscon, Ariz.; and WD2XXM, an iBiquity test
station in Frederick, Md. All of these already were airing hybrid
NAB Labs is using
consumer receivers, primarily OEM radios in Ford vehicles, to
characterize the all-digital coverage. Personnel have also tested in
BMWs using Volvo receivers.
The fact that
testing is being conducted with receivers available in rental cars is
in contrast to the reference receivers used some 11 years ago in
iBiquity’s initial AM all-digital testing.
Cumulus Senior Vice
President of Engineering and IT Gary Kline told attendees that the
all-digital audio sounded “far better than I expected” and that
he walked away from the tests “feeling pretty good about running
all-digital HD on AM.”
Greater Media Vice
President of Radio Engineering Milford Smith told RW the all-digital
AM HD Radio signal on Class A, 50 kW clear channel WBT “was very
robust,” more so than the hybrid signal. This was the second round
of testing on WBT, to eliminate anomalies found in round one last
NAB Labs has now
conducted drive tests on five AMs and hopes to test on another four
facilities in 2014. More owners are offering stations for testing
now, according to NAB.
The NAB Radio
Technology Committee has identified the types of facilities it wants
for further testing. Categories include a station with a
non-directional antenna; a station with a directional antenna; an
expanded band station; a Class A in the lower band; a Class D; and a
Class C with a complex antenna array.
Cavell and Mertz is developing a lab test facility that will be
located at NAB Labs; the aim is to formulate repeatable tests that
back up the drive data.
Smith told Radio
World the NRSC has discussed the possibility of eventually evaluating
all-digital AM, similar to the testing that preceded FCC
authorization of IBOC.
All AM HD Radio
receivers in the field today can receive all-digital signals.
What has NAB Labs
learned from testing so far? Layer said that coverage of the AM
all-digital signal exceeds that of the hybrid signal. This was shown
experimentally in 2002 and confirmed at WBT in 2014 using production
signal is more robust than the hybrid AM signal, and coverage is
dependent on co- and adjacent-channel interference.
BUREAU CHIEF “ENJOYING THE DIGITAL RADIO”
interesting to learn about the media and technology habits of those
who regulate media. Now we learn that FCC Media Bureau Chief Bill
Lake is experiencing HD Radio firsthand.
He told attendees at
an FCC panel that “as a listener,” he’s “enjoying the digital
radio in his new car,” and that he believes “it’s key for the
auto industry to add digital radios to their product line.” He
didn’t identify the car make or model.
radio industry can do to promote [digital radio] is good for the
industry,” he said. After an attendee complained he couldn’t find
a home receiver in stores, Lake replied that he’d also found a new
digital home radio at Best Buy.
NAB official confirmed to RW that Lake was referring to HD Radio.