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Digital Radio Update – November 7, 2007

Digital Radio Update – November 7, 2007

Nov 7, 2007 11:06 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.


  • FCC Weighing Comments on IBOC DAB 2nd Further NPRM
  • Densmore Joins Ibiquity
  • DRM Members Lobby for Spectrum at WARC-07
  • IBOC by State: Alaska
  • Euro HD Alliance Signs On
  • The New Language of Digital Radio
  • Audiovox Adds HD Radio Product Line at SEMA
  • LG Introduces New HD Radio Family


FCC Weighing Comments on IBOC DAB 2nd Further NPRM
FCC staffers are poring over a volume of comments and ex parte material generated in response to its second further notice of proposed rulemaking in the matter of DAB Systems and Their Impact on the Terrestrial Radio Broadcast Service, released on May 31.

In that document the FCC asked a number of disparate questions about the further development of DAB service in the U.S., such as whether limits subscription services should be limited and/or fees imposed on both subscription and ancillary revenue. Additional questions probed the issues of extending public service obligations to ancillary (multicast and data) and/or subscription services, requiring public files to be posted online, and eliminating unattended operation options for both AM and FM radio stations.

Predictably, comments filed by the radio owners, the NAB and a chorus of state broadcast associations urged the FCC to show restraint in trying to do too much, too soon in imposing new regulatory burdens on broadcasters struggling to make a nascent digital radio service viable.

One common thread among broadcaster’s comments concerned the FCC’s suggestion that unattended operation of stations, status quo for over a decade and a major driver in the design of the current EAS system, may inhibit the dissemination of safety information during public emergencies. A plurality of voices suggested that raising such an issue was inappropriate within the scope and context of the DAB NPRM, particularly at a time when EAS is being treated in an entirely separate proceeding

Broadcasters equally rejected the idea of requiring Web posting of a station’s public file on the grounds that it opened licensees to criticism and scrutiny from entities far removed from a station’s community of license.

The questions of limiting subscription content to 25 percent or less, and whether public service requirements should be extended to all ancillary digital services (multicast) including subscription content drew requests for a hands-off approach from most broadcasters, though some grassroots organizations dissented, suggesting that broadcasters should be required to provide some of their multicast capacity to community groups and non-profits.

The entire record can be viewed by going to the FCC’s comment filing page and entering the number 99-325 in the appropriate space. Replies to comment are due no later than Nov. 13.


Densmore Joins Ibiquity
Ibiquity Digital welcomes Steve Densmore as its broadcast engineering technology manager. In his new role, Densmore will focus on facilitating collaboration between Ibiquity’s internal development team and external broadcast partners with the ultimate goal of assuring smooth rollouts for HD Radio broadcast products and system features.

Previous professional achievements by Densmore include 32 years of service as manager of radio operations for ABC Radio, where he frequently served as engineer in charge for pool coverage of international tours by a number of standing U.S. Presidents.

Densmore will work out of Ibiquity’s new headquarters in Columbia, MD.

DRM Members Lobby for Spectrum at WARC-07
Representatives of DRM Consortium members BBC, Deutsche Welle, Radio Netherlands, TDF and VT Communications are reportedly in attendance at WRC-07 in Geneva, Switzerland, with an eye toward persuading the ITU to sanction an increase in available spectrum for international broadcasting in the HF range of 4-10 MHz.

Of particular interest to the DRM consortium are slots in the 4, 5, 7 and 9MHz bands that could be re-farmed to permit additional international broadcast service using DRM digital transmission.

The proceeding is listed as item 1.13 on the WARC-07 agenda.

Reallocation proponents such as DRM Chairman Peter Senger point to severe congestion it the 4 to 10MHz of the HF band as justification for the proposed changes. “WARC-07 is the best opportunity for DRM to communicate (advancements made) in the last three years.” Senger said, noting that the non-proprietary DRM system specifications are already in place, with receiver chipsets slated to ship to receiver manufacturers early in 2008.

The WARC is convened every four years by the International Telecommunications Union, and serves as an international forum for the update of spectrum allocations and regulations.

IBOC Across America

IBOC by State: Alaska
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 seven stations in the 49th state broadcasting eight HD Radio channels.

MarketStationHD1 FormatHD2 FormatOwner AnchorageKENI-AM 650News/Talk-Clear Channel Radio AnchorageKGOT-FM 101.3CHR-Clear Channel Radio JuneauKTOO-FM 104.3VarietyGroove SaladCapital Community Broadcasting KetchikanKRBD-FM 105.3Public-Rainbird Community Broadcasting PetersburgKFSK-FM 100.9Eclectic-Narrows Broadcasting SitkaKCAW-FM 104.7Eclectic-Raven Radio Foundation WrangellKSTK-FM 101.7News/Talk/AC-Wrangell Radio Group

Eye on IBOC

Euro HD Alliance Signs On
An amalgam of European broadcasters looking to promote HD Radio adoption on the continent held their first meeting and elected officers in Lucerne, Switzerland, last month.

The group, dubbed the European HD Radio Alliance, timed the event to coincide with the second annual HD Radio Days event. At this event, a management group responsible for overseeing Central Switzerland’s HD Radio field trial hosted more than 200 broadcast specialists from 13 countries for a series of forums and workshops covering a range of HD Radio technologies and applications.

Officers of the newly formed Alliance include:

  • Juerg Bachmann, Energy Zurich, Switzerland, chairman
  • Andriy Karpiy, First Ukrainian Radio Group, Ukraine, vice chairman
  • Markus Ruoss, Ruoss AG und Radio Sunshine, Switzerland, general secretary
  • Andrea Sentinelli, Europejskie Radio dia Bialorusi, Poland, general director
  • Perry Priestley, Ibiquity Digital, U.S., treasurer

“With a number of countries in Europe testing or deploying HD Radio technology, we believe that now is the right time to form an organization,” Bachmann said, noting that the group aims “to raise awareness of HD Radio technology and its many benefits for European broadcasters and consumers.”

A pro-HD Radio group known as the Brazilian Alliance for Digital Radio was founded in that nation in November 2006, while the U.S.-based HD Digital Radio Alliance, which recently re-chartered, was formed in December 2005.

HD Radio Terminology

The New Language of Digital Radio
bit mapping: The assignment of certain bits of information to specific positions within a vector or matrix. At higher layers bit mapping creates a structure for conveying such information as headers, payload, data fields, error checking and the like. At Layer 1, bit mapping assigns bits to the various OFDM subcarriers.

secondary sidebands: The AM IBOC OFDM subcarrier groups consisting of subcarriers 27 through 53 and -27 through -53 in the Hybrid mode an dsubcarriers 27 through 52 in the All-Digital mode. The FM IBOC subcarrier groups that replace the analog digital signal in All-Digital mode. The FM IBOC secondary sidebands consist of FM IBOC subcarriers -279 throuh +279. These sidebands are divided into the Secondary Main (SM) sidebands containing 10 frequency partitions, Secondary Extended (SX) sidebands containing four frequency partitions and the Secondary Protected (SP) sidebands containing two groups of twelve protected subcarriers.

multicast: In the context of IBOC, the transmission of supplemental program audio channels in addition to the main program audio channel.


Audiovox Adds HD Radio Product Line at SEMA
Audiovox joined an expanding group of car audio manufacturers offering after-market HD Radio products with the introduction of its new Jensen Model HD5112 and HD5212 HD Radio Digital Receivers during last week’s SEMA show in Las Vegas.

Audiovox President Tom Malone claims the HD5112 and HD5212 are the first HD Radio car receivers to offer both Ipod connectivity and satellite radio capability. Operational features of both units are identical, and include a front-panel 3.5mm mini-plug line input with a supplied cable to provide Ipod and other consumer audio connectivity. Also standard are an LCD backlit master display, Sirius/XM satellite compatibility, and a USB port for Flash RAM and SD card MP3 playback. The difference in model number indicates the color of the faceplate.

LG Introduces New HD Radio Family
LG Innotek has introduced a series of HD Radio modules covering a variety of applications in the expanding automotive audio market.

The new product line includes:

  • Aftermarket Automotive Module – Based on Ibiquity’s 2129 interface specifications with a Texas Instruments DRI352 DSP, the module can fit inside both single and double DIN CD head units in both horizontal and vertical mount configurations.
  • Ultra Small Module – Also based on Ibiquity’s 2129 interface specification with a TI DRI352 DSP, this module can fit inside single DIN multimedia head units with flip out LCD screens, and is also available in vertical or horizontal variants.
  • Universal Tuner box – Based on Ibiquity’s 2068 reference design with a TI DRI352 DSP, this design contains a custom module board that can be connected to an external translator box to connect through both aftermarket and OEM head units. An integrated antenna switch allows use of both factory head unit and HD Radio tuners.

Ibiquity Digital CEO Jeff Jury was upbeat in his assessment of LG’s new entries, noting that they provide “a wide range of easy to implement alternatives for manufacturers incorporating HD Radio technology in the growing number of aftermarket automotive radios coming to market.”