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Digital Radio Update – November 21, 2007

Digital Radio Update – November 21, 2007

Nov 21, 2007 11:00 AM, By Mark Krieger, CBT

Stay up to date on the latest IBOC news, business and technology information with the twice-monthly newsletter from Radio magazine.


  • Itunes Tagging Receivers Take CES Honors
  • World’s First DRM+ Broadcast in Germany
  • First Multicast Service Airs in Thailand
  • BE Tapped for Brazilian High-Power HD Radio
  • Continental Halfway Home with MPB HD Radio Conversion
  • IBOC by State: Arkansas
  • Will Martin FCC Deliver a Turkey in Second IBOC R&O?
  • The New Language of Digital Radio
  • WBU’s Digital Radio Guide Now Available


The Polk I-Sonic Entertainment System 2 includes HD Radio/Itunes tagging.

Itunes Tagging Receivers Take CES Honors
Two new products featuring Itunes Tagging via HD Radio technology received prestigious Innovations Awards from the Consumer Electronics Association last week, as Alpine’s TUA-T550HD took car audio category honors, with Polk’s I-Sonic Entertainment System 2 doing likewise in the home audio category. The awards are given to products that qualify as Enabling Technologies by utilizing software embedded in silicon to provide functionality in finished products or subassemblies.

Itunes Tagging enables consumers using HD Radio receivers equipped with a Tag button, to “tag” songs they hear on FM HD Radio stations, sync with their Ipods and then be presented with the option to buy the selected songs on Itunes.

A sampling of HD Radio receivers featuring Itunes Tagging will appear at the 2008 International CES, Jan. 7-10, 2008 in Las Vegas. The receivers will be featured at the CES Innovations 2008 Showcase, as well as Alpine’s Meeting room and both the Ibiquity and Polk Audio booths.

CBS Radio, Clear Channel, Cumulus, Cox, Entercom and Greater Media radio ownership groups have already announced their commitment to integrate the tagging technology with their HD Radio broadcasts, with other groups expected to follow soon.

World’s First DRM+ Broadcast in Germany
The first DRM+ field trial was launched Nov. 20, 2007, in Hanover and will run until Feb. 29, 2008. The DRM+ broadcasting trial is carried out by the DRM Associate Member German State Media Authority of Lower Saxony and the DRM Associate Member Leibniz University of Hanover, which designed and built the first DRM+ transmitter. The results of the DRM+ broadcast measurements will provide a basis for the new DRM+ system’s standardization, which is planned for 2008.

The DRM+ trial in Hanover is in line with the field trials scheduled in Germany on HD Radio and DRM+. Both systems allow digital radio transmission in the AM band. With reference to the final report from the DRM Associate Member University of Applied Sciences Kaiserslautern and the German State Media Authority of Rhineland-Palatinate about the interference potential of DRM+ and HD Radio, the German Federal Network Agency has settled licenses for forthcoming field trials at an assigned time. The HD Radio field trial occurs in Heidelberg from the Dec. 1 until the Feb. 29, and the DRM+ field trial happens in Kaiserslautern from March 1 to May 31, 2008. The final report is a first technical basis towards digitization of FM broadcast radio service. It is available in German at this website.

DRM+ is a narrow band digital radio system and could gradually replace the analogue FM radio in the future. DRM+ is appropriate for the transmission of local and sub-regional single program offerings although it can obviously be extended up to nationwide coverage as a single-frequency network.

First Multicast Service Airs in Thailand
Fatima Broadcasting International of Thailand has begun programming an HD Radio multicast channel in the greater Bangkok region, making it the first broadcaster to utilize IBOC digital multicast technology to deliver programming in Southeast Asia.

In 2006, Fatima Broadcasting International won the right to operate a countrywide sub-carrier service over 85 FM stations from the Public Relations Department of Thailand’s government. Instead of using conventional analog subcarrier technology, Fatima opted for HD Radio delivery alongside main channel programming provided by the Thai government.

Superior audio quality was an important factor in the selection of HD Radio technology. “The reliability of the (solid state) transmitters, along with excellent audio quality, offers obvious benefits over the older FM (analog) sub-carrier service,” noted Sangchai Apichatthanapath, president and CEO of Fatima Broadcasting International.

Loxley, Thai representative for Harris, handled installation, technical training and service for the two-region project. A Harris Z8HD+ transmitter services the Bangkok region while a Harris ZX2000 transmitter provides coverage in the area around Chaingmai.


BE Tapped for Brazilian High-Power HD Radio
Broadcast Electronics’ first FMi 35DT transmission system is on schedule for a December delivery to Brazillian broadcaster Rede Itatiaia in Belo Horizonte.

The system combines 35kW FM analog with up to 875 watts FM digital output power. The new transmitter will feed Rede Itatiaia’s separate analog FM and HD Radio antennas, and is being supplied to the group through BE’s Brazilian distributor, Savana Comunicacoes Ltda.

BE has previously supplied a number of HD Radio transmission systems to Brazil. The first to broadcast FM HD Radio was at Kiss FM in Sao Paulo in 2005.

In addition to 95.7 FM, Rede Itataia has 54 satellite stations in the Brazil state of Minas Gerais.

Continental Halfway Home with MPB HD Radio Conversion
Continental Electronics has successfully completed Phase 1 of its $1.48 million contract with Mississippi Public Broadcasting to install eight analog and digital transmission systems throughout that state.

Phase 1 included four systems installed and commissioned throughout September and early October for analog, digital and multicast operation in Jackson, Bude, Oxford and McHenry, MS.

Phase 2, which includes conversions at MPB’s remaining four stations, is expected to commence in January.

IBOC Across America

IBOC by State: Arkansas
Ibiquity has a list of stations with licensed HD Radio technology and notes those on the air now. IBOC by state looks at various states and list the stations making the transition. There are 10 stations in the Natural State broadcasting 15 HD Radio channels.

MarketStationHD1 FormatHD2 FormatOwner FayettevilleKUAF-FM 91.3News/Talk/Info-University of Arkansas Little RockKDIS-FM 99.5Children-ABC Radio Little RockKARN-AM 920News/Talk/Sports-Citadel Little RockKSSN-FM 95.7CountryNew CountryClear Channel Radio Little RockKOKY-FM 102.1Urban AC-Citadel Little RockKMJX-FM 105.1Classic RockDeep Rock TracksClear Channel Radio Little RockKHLR-FM 94.9GospelSmooth JazzClear Channel Radio Little RockKHKN-FM 106.7CountryCountry – AmericanaClear Channel Radio Little RockKDJE-FM 100.3RockRock AlternativeClear Channel Radio Little RockKUAR-FM 89.1News/Talk/Info-University of Arkansas

Eye on IBOC

Will Martin FCC Deliver a Turkey in Second IBOC R&O?
Even though most radio owners have yet to partake in the gastronomic excess that traditionally marks the advent of our holiday season, it seems that more than a few are already experiencing symptoms of indigestion, thanks to some cryptic references in the FCC’s Second Further NPRM on IBOC digital radio issued back on May 31.

Judging from the reactions found in the volume of comments filed in the MM 99-325 proceeding, a number of respondents have begun to question precisely what the FCC was thinking when it included therein questions about two sensitive issues that seemingly have less to do with IBOC digital radio’s rollout than they do with partisan political storm clouds forming around the issues of ownership regulation, localism, grassroots hostility towards big media and the upcoming presidential elections.

Issues of questionable relevance within the latest IBOC digital Second Further NPRM include a potential mandate for Web posting of station public files, along with a rollback of unattended station operation on the premise that it has irretrievably handicapped radio’s ability to respond to local crisis. While Commissioners haven’t publicly come down one way or the other on the former, Chairman Martin has made no bones about expressing his feeling that unattended op. is no longer an acceptable option for radio in the United States of America.

All of this, of course, has compelled a number of stakeholders to ask why, oh why, did the FCC choose MM 99-325 to broach these two completely unrelated questions, particularly, when a proceeding deliberating an overhaul of EAS was already in the works?

It’s hard to imagine that anyone who understands the demands of emergency management communications truly believes that compelling broadcasters to schedule minimum wage personnel to fill chairs overnight and holidays will make the public any safer. It is equally difficult to conceive how placing a station’s pubic file online will somehow bring broadcasters closer to citizens in their city of license.

Even so, an honest, informed debate regarding how radio can better serve the needs of a community deserves consideration on it own merits. One thing that all radio licensees — less than 25 percent of which meet anyone’s definition of “big corporate radio” — can agree upon is that the industry’s future depends upon localism. Finding better ways to accomplish that goal is in everyone’s best interest. Relegating such critical policy-making to the bowels of a technical proceeding clearly is not.

HD Radio Terminology

The New Language of Digital Radio
analog audio bandwidth control (AAB): A parameter that indicates whether the 5kHz or the 8kHz audio bandwidth has been selected when an AM IBOC station is in hybrid mode.

power level control (PL): In the AM IBOC Hybrid Waveform, the nominal level of the secondary, PIDS, and tertiary sidebands (relative to the analog carrier) as indicated by one of two settings, where PL=0 selects the low level amplitude scale factors and PL=1 selects the high level amplitude scale factors.

latency: The inherent time delay that a logical channel imposes on a transfer frame as it traverses Layer 1, being the sum of the interleaver depth and any diversity delay applied. One of the three characterization parameters.


WBU’s Digital Radio Guide Now Available
The Digital Radio Guide, a primer on worldwide digital broadcast radio systems and standards is now available for free public download for the first time since its original publication by the Technical Committee of the World Broadcasting Unions in 2006. The 118-page document, originally intended for broadcast engineers and managers of WBU member organizations, is an outstanding single point of reference for anyone with an interest in both terrestrial and satellite digital audio broadcasting.

Terrestrial systems covered include DRM, DAB Eureka 147, Japan’s IDSB-TSB and HD Radio. A description of XM, Sirius, Worldspace and ITU-R system E satellite operations are also included.

In addition to specific system architecture and developmental history The Digital Radio Guide examines global radio broadcast spectrum allocations, detailed receiver specifications, and provides a technical glossary, as well as a list of web links to system developers and standards organizations. The entire document is available for free download in PDF format here.

The WBU’s membership is composed of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, Arab States Broadcasting Union, African Union of Broadcasting, Caribbean Broadcasting Union, European Broadcasting Union International Association of Broadcasting, North American Broadcasters Association, and the Organizaci�n de la Televisi�n Iberoamericana.