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NABA Hopes to Harmonize North America’s Digital Radio Plans

New proposal encourages HD Radio, a “continental digital radio market”

On behalf of the North American Broadcasters Association Radio Committee, HD Radio Executive Director of Engineering Jeff Detweiler recently presented a position paper on digital radio at the NABA Future of Radio & Audio Symposium in Washington. Attendees received a preview of the document, which will be presented to regulatory officials in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. on Feb. 21 in an effort to “support discussion and co-operation between policy makers and regulatory entities” across North America.

Detweiler introduced the committee’s recommendation for “A Voluntary North American Digital Radio Standard,” which he explained was crafted by the Digital Radio Working Group, which is chaired by Detweiler. Its other members are AJ Bautista, John Coldwell, Jenn Hadfield, Wally Lennox, Kirk Nesbit, Jason Paris, Nat Polito, Paul Ski and Glynn Walden.

According to a press release from NABA, “the working group consulted widely with radio broadcasters, broadcast associations, manufacturers and service providers in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. The paper represents the NABA Radio Committee’s consensus about the future of over-the-air digital radio and has been supported by the NABA Board of Directors.”

The proposed standard is HD Radio’s IBOC technology in part because Canada is the only one of the three North American nations not to have already approved HD Radio technology; however, experimental authority has already been granted there. 

The paper’s objective states: “It is logical to consider the harmonization of regulation and voluntary standardization of HD Radio across all of North America to maximize the potential economic, regulatory and service quality benefits across all borders.” Despite the voluntary nature of the proposal, the hope is that it would accelerate rollout of the technology in each respective country. If enacted, it would theoretically create a “continental digital radio market,” benefiting broadcasters, regulatory agencies, marketers, the auto industry and consumers.

Additionally, the paper’s objective cautions that “analysis and recommendation for a voluntary HD Radio IBOC standard is based on present spectrum availability within North America” because it enables “voluntary migration and evolution to digital broadcasting without requiring additional spectrum.”

Read the full paper online here.