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TUNING IN

A blog dedicated to the world of broadcast and public relations

Thursday, May 24, 2007

HD Radio’s Impact on the Radio Broadcast Industry

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A recent survey of 50 randomly sampled stations in the top-50 markets conducted by News Generation, Inc. reveals that 56 percent of surveyed stations have a station in their family that currently broadcasts in HD. Further, more than half of stations believe that HD Radio will impact the radio broadcast industry.
Although HD Radio hasn’t yet rivaled satellite radio in its reach, its sound quality and increasing availability may mean a greater impact on traditional radio than satellite, largely because HD Radio is an extension of traditional, terrestrial radio.
While people assume that the “HD” refers to high definition as it does in “High Definition Television,” HD actually stand for hybrid digital, which means it’s transmitting both analog and digital signals at the same time. HD Radio has been chosen by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as the standard for local area broadcast of digital signals in the U.S. because it works on the same frequencies allocated to FM and AM radio stations.
According to www.hddigitalradio.com, there are currently 605 broadcasting HD Radio formats in 68 markets throughout the nation. Of the 56 percent of the surveyed stations that are currently broadcasting in HD, 39.3 percent responded that they adopted the new technology because it offered a “higher sound quality” and 28.6 percent said it’s because HD is the “wave of the future.” Of the more than half that think HD Radio will impact the radio broadcast industry, 27.8 percent say the sound quality would especially impact AM radio.
Primarily used to provide “CD quality” music, HD Radio is the first step in digitizing the radio spectrum. While listeners don’t have to subscribe like they do to satellite radio, special receivers are needed to pick up HD stations. Eventually, it is expected that all radio broadcasts will be digital, although the FCC has not set a timeline for that migration.
Right now, since most HD broadcasts are focused on music, this new technology hasn’t yet impacted PR professionals pitching stories to news and talk programs. However, when the FCC outlines a timeline for all broadcasters to move to the HD platform, that’s when PR pros should really take note. There is great hope that this technology will allow easier tracking of stories through digitized search and retrieval, long a difficult process in radio.
The adoption of HD Radio isn’t the only big trend in the radio broadcast industry. When asked what the next wave in radio will be, 18 percent of the stations said “integrated radio systems” incorporating Bluetooth, wireless, HD Radio and Satellite Radio.

by Lynn Harris Medcalf

One Response to HD Radio’s Impact on the Radio Broadcast Industry

  1. PocketRadio says:

    “HD Radio on the Offense”

    “But after an investigation of HD Radio units, the stations playing HD, and the company that owns the technology; and some interviews with the wonks in DC, it looks like HD Radio is a high-level corporate scam, a huge carny shill.”

    http://www.eastbayexpress.com/2007-03-07/music/hd-radio-on-the-offense

    “4/4/07 – FCC: Market to Decide Fate of HD Radio”

    http://www.diymedia.net/archive/0407.htm

    “Sirius, XM, and HD: Consumer interest reality check”

    “While interest in satellite radio is diminishing, interest in HD shows no signs of a pulse.”

    http://www.hear2.com/2007/02/sirius_xm_and_h.html

    “U.S. automakers not jumping into HD Radio”

    http://www.reuters.com/article/ousiv/idUSN2632750220070427?pageNumber=1

    “Bridge Ratings: Sweat the cell phone and don’t count on HD”

    “In other words, Bridge says interest in HD radio is decreasing even as your station works hard to increase awareness. What can I possibly add to this honest and bleak picture that I haven’t said before? My well-intended warnings about HD’s “premature death” seem to be rearing their ugly heads almost two years later.”

    http://www.hear2.com/2007/04/bridge_ratings_.html#comments

    “But is ‘availability’ of HD radios the problem?”

    “And one broadcaster reported to me that he asked an iBiquity rep how many HD radios had actually been sold as of the most recent accounting. And this was his answer: 150,000.”

    http://www.hear2.com/2007/04/but_is_availabi.html#comments

    “Is Pay-for-Play HD Content on Horizon?”

    http://rwonline.com/pages/s.0049/t.4028.html

    “HD Radio Effort Undermined by Weak Tuners in Expensive Radios”

    http://www.mp3newswire.net/stories/7002/hd-radio2.html

    “The FCC Tunes Into HD Radio–And May Turn Off Distant AM”

    http://blog.washingtonpost.com/fasterforward/2007/03/the_fcc_greenlights_hd_radio_n.html

    “RW Opinion: Rethinking AM’s future”

    “Making AM-HD work well as a long-term investment is seen as an expensive and risky challenge for most stations and their owners. There is the significant downside of potential new interference to some of their own AM analog listeners as well as listeners of adjacent-channel stations.”

    http://www.rwonline.com/pages/s.0044/t.557.html

    I wouldn’t count on HD Radio !