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Requiring FM radio in mobile devices is absolutely ridiculous

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Old mobile devices
The National Association of Broadcasts, the same lobbyist group that was "astonished" by the approval of the Sirius/XM merger and helped cause one of the longest media mergers in history, is now urging the government to require the inclusion of FM Radio chips into mobile devices.

The proposal is absolutely ridiculous, of course, and six trade groups including the CEA and CTIA feel the same way.

Yet the NAB says it's necessary for "public safety" - but what really is the motivation behind this proposal?
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HD Radio to explode in growth by 2015, says firm

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HD Radio


A new report from ABI Research is predicting a boom in HD Radio usage, with an "installed based" of over 200 million, in the next five years.

The reason for this explosion? ABI is partly attributing it to... smartphones.
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HD Radio "has reached critical mass" says iBiquity

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HD Radio at CES
iBiquity is continuing to try to pump hope into the survival of HD Radio, recently announcing that new aftermarket and auto manufacturers are offering the medium.

But it's comments made by iBiquity COO Jeff Jury that really makes me wonder if the company is just hell-bent on persistent propaganda, or actually believes their own hype.
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HD Radio at CES 2010

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HD Radio at CESLast year at CES 2009, we saw the HD Radio chip get smaller and this year at CES 2010 we saw how this smaller chip came to fruition.
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Zune HD coming this Fall, features built in HD Radio

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Zune HDMicrosoft has finally come clean on the rumors of its new touch-screen Zune HD, set to go on sale this Fall. The new Zune is an attempt to take on the iPod Touch, but it's not the interface I'm interested in - it's the "HD" in the new Zune HD.

Nearly three years ago, the old-school Microsoft Zune touted a built-in FM radio - not exactly a feature that would make it an "iPod killer" (as history shows, the Zune barely made a dent in iPod sales), but it was a feature nonetheless. Including a radio tuner gave consumers the choice to listen to their own collection, or live content from over-the-air radio.

And now, the new Zune HD will include an "upgrade" to its featureset: built-in HD Radio.
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Minority Media & Telecom Council wants HD Radio in "most" Satellite Radios

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HD Jump

The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to include HD Radio capabilities into most satellite radio receivers.
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Audi goes standard with HD Radio on select models

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Audi A4Audi of America will be including HD Radio technology in "many" of its vehicles starting with the 2011 model year.

The vehicles that will be equipped with HD Radio will be those featuring top-of-the-line audio systems. No specific model lines were announced, but it was pointed out that these vehicles will arrive in dealers in 2010.

The news further underscores the legitimate competition that HD Radio serves against Satellite Radio, but also illustrates exactly how slow automakers are to react. This announcement comes out a full 2 years before the feature will even be available to the public.

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Rep. Markey launches bill for HD Radio mandate in all Satellite Radios

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Rep. Edward MarkeyRepresentative Edward Markey (D-MA), not content with a Federal Communications Commission inquiry on the subject, is has sponsored a bill to force HD Radio chips into  Satellite Radios.

The "Radio All Digital Channel Receiver Act" (H.R. 7157) would mandate that devices designed to receive both Sirius XM Radio Inc. service - and terrestrial radio - must be able to receive HD Radio too.

Of course, the FCC launched a Notice of Inquiry on the HD Radio mandate just last month. But Markey can't wait to let that play out it seems.

"Millions of Americans today rely on local broadcast radio for news, public safety bulletins, sports, weather, traffic and other information," Markey said in a statement.

"The recent merger of the only two satellite radio providers, XM and Sirius satellite radio, has underscored the importance of ensuring consumer access to a diversity of sources for digital radio content, in particular content originating in their local communities," Markey added.

Markey's bill is co-sponsored by Charles Gonzalez (D-TX), Greg Walden (R-OR), and Lee Terry (R-NE) - three staunch Clear Channel supporters.

[HR 7151 (PDF) via ArsTechnica]

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HD Radio awareness is up... so what?

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HD Radio

A research report by Mark Kassof & Co. has revealed that 67 percent of 18-64 year olds have heard of HD Radio, a rise from 38 percent (two years ago). Woopee, "awareness" isn't what is truly important.

Don't tell that to the terrestrial radio trade mags though, they seem ready to pop the champagne over this report.

The measurement of awareness is an old-media way of thinking, so you can't really blame them. For years, "reach and frequency" have been the mantra of advertisers and media buyers, all striving to get their marketing message to as many people as possible.

But should the HD Radio really be celebrating "awareness"? Afterall, I'm highly aware of AIDS. But I don't want it. You can be "aware" of a product, and have absolutely no urge to associate yourself with it.

To be fair, the Kassof study didn't just measure awareness, it measured "consumer understanding" of HD Radio in addition, which also grew: 21 percent said they are aware that HD Radio delivers "higher quality" sound, while 8 percent now know that HD Radio delivers more listening choices.

But maybe, that's all skewed anyway, because 7 percent of those surveyed confuse HD Radio with Satellite Radio, and that metric is up from 3 percent two years ago. Come to think of it, I should have entitled this post "HD Radio confusion with Satellite Radio more than doubles."

Another three percent think they already receive HD Radio, even though they do not own an HD Radio receiver. Now that's progress.

[FMQB]
(Disclaimer: FMQB is one of the trade mags that I actually don't loathe.)

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HD Radio power boost will double FM interference, says NPR Labs

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HD Radio interferenceThe National Association of Broadcasters in January joined other industry groups advocating an optional power boost for HD Radio, but the increase would nearly double the interference with analog FM radio, according to an extensive study by NPR Labs.

The NPR study estimates that 41 percent of public radio stations would lose one-third - or more - of the automotive radios their analog signals can reach. With the power increase, HD Radio's interference with terrestrial analog radio would nearly double, affecting 26 percent of listeners in vehicles.

NPR still backs HD Radio as an advance in radio technology. "However," Mike Starling, NPR chief technology officer and head of NPR Labs, wrote in a memo introducing the report, "we cannot responsibly support boosting HD Radio power [to] 10 percent en masse to the detriment of existing FM analog signals."

The study spans nearly 2-years of testing receiver performance, developing a formula for predicting analog/digital coverage, field testing at 10 stations, and mapping coverage for 850 public radio stations under several scenarios.

NPR Labs and the Association of Public Radio Engineers will present the findings of the report for station engineers at a day-long seminar on September 16th in Austin, Texas. The seminar will precede the National Association of Broadcasters Radio Show.

[Current.org]
Thanks Karl!

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