Skids Greased for Further FM-HD Experimentation

The FCC’s put a proposal by iBiquity, NPR, and NAB out for public comment that would allow FM-HD broadcasters more flexibility to increase the power levels of their digital sidebands independently. Called asymmetrical transmission, this flexibility conceivably allows more HD-enabled stations to pump up the power of their digital signals to make them reliably receivable in a station’s primary coverage area.

All signs are that the comment/reply comment rigmarole in this instance is a formality. As at least one industry lawyer has noted, the fact that the FCC’s scheduled the comment period for a short three weeks before Christmas – and a week for reply-comments to be filed between Christmas and the new year – means there is little likelihood that a robust record of public debate will be assembled over this latest wrinkle in the HD Radio saga. Read More

More Lumps for HD Radio

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. Read More

Bring The Noise Redux: FCC Okays FM-HD Power Increase

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. Read More