The problem with digital radio - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 07-01-2009, 07:05 AM - Thread Starter
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The problem with digital radio proponents is that they want to displace and eliminate existing AM/FM radio services. IBiquity Digital Corporation incorrectly likes to compare their HD radio with the development of FM radio. Ibiquity's Chairman/President/CEO Bob Struble is fond of this comparison and he's dead wrong when he makes this analogy. Somehow the radio industry never seems to challenge him on this. FM radio never eliminated AM radio or any other service like his dubious digital system attempts to do.

The real solution, and everyone in radio knows this, is the creation of a stand-alone terrestrial digital radio service. Then existing services will live or die based on consumer demands. Unless this occurs digital radio will be like pushing a rope - which is real hard to do.

The unfortunate thing is that we no longer have an FCC driven by intelligent and thoughtful people. But instead, the overseers of the radio spectrum are either incapable or unwilling to make the right decisions. They take the easy route and cave to special interests and money rather than make the wiser but much harder decisions.
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post #2 of 16 Old 07-01-2009, 09:50 AM
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Comparing HD to FM is not a realistic comparison. Things move much more quickly nowadays than they did from the 40's to the 70's and the majority of FM's growth was within about a 5 year period starting right around 1970 anyway, I know I was around then. Comparing it to the iPod or even the CD is a much more valid comparison. The CD had overtaken the LP within a few years and the iPod has become ubiquitous in just a few. So taken in a more realistic time frame such as now and here which is the computer age, HD radio has done just about nothing. The lesson of this is that ibiquity is about as far from ubiquitous as you can get. I will not comment on the similarities of the word ubiquitous and the name ibiquity nor the similarity of the letters HD and the abbreviation of High Definition except to say that both are very far off the mark.
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post #3 of 16 Old 07-01-2009, 10:37 AM
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"The real solution, and everyone in radio knows this, is the creation of a stand-alone terrestrial digital radio service. Then existing services will live or die based on consumer demands. Unless this occurs digital radio will be like pushing a rope - which is real hard to do."

Stand alone being what though? I'm not getting this.

Stations don't have to get onto hd if they don't want to. If you mean a nationwide satellite system well I think that would take quite a bit away from the localness of radio. On one hand yes it would be nice to get other stations from afar but I just don't see that happening.

What would terrestrial do then? It wouldn't change the content of stations...

There's the quality of the content and then the quality of the signal.

People pay money for sirius xm mostly for the content. FCC pretty much doesn't want swares etc and people generally get it without commericals (since they are paying for it.)

To say quality of the single hd does sound better. Yes it is more sensitive like ota hdtv but that's the same for any digital service.

I like hd because I hear more content and the quality is better. I can hear stations promoting local bands and concerts that I wouldn't otherwise.
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post #4 of 16 Old 07-01-2009, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by mdovell View Post

"The real solution, and everyone in radio knows this, is the creation of a stand-alone terrestrial digital radio service. Then existing services will live or die based on consumer demands. Unless this occurs digital radio will be like pushing a rope – which is real hard to do."

Stand alone being what though? I'm not getting this.

Stations don't have to get onto hd if they don't want to. If you mean a nationwide satellite system well I think that would take quite a bit away from the localness of radio. On one hand yes it would be nice to get other stations from afar but I just don't see that happening.

What would terrestrial do then? It wouldn't change the content of stations...

There's the quality of the content and then the quality of the signal.

People pay money for sirius xm mostly for the content. FCC pretty much doesn't want swares etc and people generally get it without commericals (since they are paying for it.)

To say quality of the single hd does sound better. Yes it is more sensitive like ota hdtv but that's the same for any digital service.

I like hd because I hear more content and the quality is better. I can hear stations promoting local bands and concerts that I wouldn't otherwise.

The idea of a dedicated digital aural service has been tried, for thirteen years in Europe and a shorter time in Canada. Both attempts have largely failed due to the cost of broadcasters having to maintain a completely separate service that few people could receive.

Canada has quietly dropped promoting it's Eureka system and Europe has been talking of either adopting the American system or developing their own IBOC.

AFAIK: All of the recent adoptions have been American IBOC.

Satellite radio is another looming failure. Before the recession and arrival of IPOD docks in cars, it already had a churn rate of 22%/yr meaning that every 4-5 years the services had to replace the equivalent of their entire customer base. Add the fact that the birds will need to be replaced and you can figure for yourself the outcome in say, five years.

When the smoke clears from all of this, free terrestrial with IBOC, will be the winner (of a much diminished audience).

Lino
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post #5 of 16 Old 07-01-2009, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by LinoNewYork View Post

When the smoke clears from all of this, free terrestrial with IBOC, will be the winner (of a much diminished audience).

You may be right, but I'm putting my money on "none of the above." No one has yet presented a compelling reason for consumers to adopt any form of digital radio service.

scowl seems to think IBOC will be adopted by government fiat, but I would expect broadcasters to scream bloody murder if that ever started being seriously discussed. Because then consumers, faced with a forced upgrade, would have to consider whether they really need a radio at all. And I think I know what that answer would be.
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post #6 of 16 Old 07-01-2009, 09:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdovell View Post

"The real solution, and everyone in radio knows this, is the creation of a stand-alone terrestrial digital radio service. Then existing services will live or die based on consumer demands. Unless this occurs digital radio will be like pushing a rope - which is real hard to do."

Stand alone being what though? I'm not getting this.

Stations don't have to get onto hd if they don't want to. If you mean a nationwide satellite system well I think that would take quite a bit away from the localness of radio. On one hand yes it would be nice to get other stations from afar but I just don't see that happening.

What would terrestrial do then? It wouldn't change the content of stations...

There's the quality of the content and then the quality of the signal.

People pay money for sirius xm mostly for the content. FCC pretty much doesn't want swares etc and people generally get it without commericals (since they are paying for it.)

To say quality of the single hd does sound better. Yes it is more sensitive like ota hdtv but that's the same for any digital service.

I like hd because I hear more content and the quality is better. I can hear stations promoting local bands and concerts that I wouldn't otherwise.

You hear more content? Now that's surprising. Most HD1 and HD2 stuff I hear is just a rehash of programming you can get on existing radio. The quality issue is a non-issue. I bet I can play a regular analog FM signal side by side with a digital one and you couldn't tell the difference.
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post #7 of 16 Old 07-01-2009, 09:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by LinoNewYork View Post

The idea of a dedicated digital aural service has been tried, for thirteen years in Europe and a shorter time in Canada. Both attempts have largely failed due to the cost of broadcasters having to maintain a completely separate service that few people could receive.

Canada has quietly dropped promoting it's Eureka system and Europe has been talking of either adopting the American system or developing their own IBOC.

AFAIK: All of the recent adoptions have been American IBOC.

Satellite radio is another looming failure. Before the recession and arrival of IPOD docks in cars, it already had a churn rate of 22%/yr meaning that every 4-5 years the services had to replace the equivalent of their entire customer base. Add the fact that the birds will need to be replaced and you can figure for yourself the outcome in say, five years.

When the smoke clears from all of this, free terrestrial with IBOC, will be the winner (of a much diminished audience).

Lino

So let me get this straight - You believe that broadcasters are going to sacrifice their existing analog service and audience for some pie-in-the-sky digital audience? Not gonna happen.

The return on digital radio anything is a big fat ZERO. Broadcasters know this right now and that's why it's at a complete dead stop. No growth in HD radio.
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post #8 of 16 Old 07-01-2009, 10:05 PM
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You want good content? Go to XM-Sirius and listen and play around a while listen to the variety, say what you want about them being on the verge of bankruptcy like Clear Channel isn't? Satrad's variety completely blows away regular HD radio even if all of them had 5 sub channels and all came in well.
When the smoke clears the winner will be wifi and in the meantime Satellite will do more and more well. HD is down the tubes despite what the cheerleaders here say, pray and hope.
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post #9 of 16 Old 07-01-2009, 10:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by LinoNewYork View Post

The idea of a dedicated digital aural service has been tried, for thirteen years in Europe and a shorter time in Canada. Both attempts have largely failed due to the cost of broadcasters having to maintain a completely separate service that few people could receive.

Canada has quietly dropped promoting it's Eureka system and Europe has been talking of either adopting the American system or developing their own IBOC.

AFAIK: All of the recent adoptions have been American IBOC.

Satellite radio is another looming failure. Before the recession and arrival of IPOD docks in cars, it already had a churn rate of 22%/yr meaning that every 4-5 years the services had to replace the equivalent of their entire customer base. Add the fact that the birds will need to be replaced and you can figure for yourself the outcome in say, five years.

When the smoke clears from all of this, free terrestrial with IBOC, will be the winner (of a much diminished audience).

Lino


When the smoke clears AM/FM and a separate digital service is the only chance for success. Just like the early days of FM as iBiquity is so fond of comparing. The service and technology will grow slow and steady as it should. It's foolish to believe that broadcasters will trash existing analog services for a phased-in hybrid digital one - it's just not working - ANYWHERE.

But, I'm sure in your mind you believe it is. The problem is you want to force it because that's how most people want things these days. I don't think that will happen friend.
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post #10 of 16 Old 07-01-2009, 10:27 PM
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Originally Posted by noside View Post

When the smoke clears AM/FM and a separate digital service is the only chance for success. Just like the early days of FM as iBiquity is so fond of comparing. The service and technology will grow slow and steady as it should. It's foolish to believe that broadcasters will trash existing analog services for a phased-in hybrid digital one - it's just not working - ANYWHERE.

But, I'm sure in your mind you believe it is. The problem is you want to force it because that's how most people want things these days. I don't think that will happen friend.

If a new technology is a success it will be very apparent very quickly in todays rapidly moving market place, people who compare the IBOC Glacial speed rollout with the FM rollout are living in yesteryear first of all the FM rollout only took about five years not 40 as soem would mislead you into thinking. The CD completely superseded the LP in only a few years and the iPod superseded the CD just as quickly if not faster. If something is a success we will know it right away and it won't have to be pushed and advertised for free. God bless em.
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post #11 of 16 Old 07-02-2009, 12:38 AM
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So let me get this straight - You believe that broadcasters are going to sacrifice their existing analog service and audience for some pie-in-the-sky digital audience? Not gonna happen.

The return on digital radio anything is a big fat ZERO. Broadcasters know this right now and that's why it's at a complete dead stop. No growth in HD radio.

At the risk of feeding this same ol' troll and FWIW: I have -never- advocated the cessation of -any- analog radio broadcasting. Doing so would kill the industry.

What I do believe is that satellite radio will fail for the reasons I mentioned previously and, internet "radio" will never be free. Net radio will always require an ISP and if the RIAA has it's way the services will have to pay hefty royalties and without a commercial model (that works) they will probably be either subscription based, time limited (bandwidth cost) and geographically limited (several foreign services are already limiting out-of-area listening).

So that would leave OTA radio as the likely the only free service and if IBOC catches-on they will be able to offer at least some niche programming along with mainstream fare.

AM is more problematic, in some areas of No.America AM listening has dropped below 10% and the median age currently around 54, advances a year for every 14-15 months that pass, meaning that -very- few younger listeners are getting into what AM offers. AM IBOC may help the strongest signals somewhat, but I don't see any real help for the small stations, the cost of implementation is probably greater than the stick value.

Lino
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post #12 of 16 Old 07-02-2009, 04:38 AM
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You hear more content? Now that's surprising. Most HD1 and HD2 stuff I hear is just a rehash of programming you can get on existing radio. The quality issue is a non-issue. I bet I can play a regular analog FM signal side by side with a digital one and you couldn't tell the difference.

Here in Philadelphia, I regularly listen to 2 different -2 stations. I got my HD Radio specifically for one of them, because the content wasn't available otherwise.

I recently broke my car antenna (don't ask) so my reception's a little wonky and I'm fading back and forth between analog and digital kinda frequently right now. I can hear the difference. Digital is noticeably different, and I think better. Especially when you're hearing someone calling in to the show on the phone.


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I don't feel that HD Radio is "Perfect" and we could sit here and argue about better/worse technology until the cows come home. But blindly posting FUD on the forums doesn't contribute to conversation and will only get you banned from the forums.
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post #13 of 16 Old 07-02-2009, 11:22 AM
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I don't feel that HD Radio is "Perfect" and we could sit here and argue about better/worse technology until the cows come home. But blindly posting FUD on the forums doesn't contribute to conversation and will only get you banned from the forums.

I never cease to be amazed by people who just want to try and somehow convince people who are already here in the forum --and have demonstrated an interest in the technology-- that somehow their interest is misplaced. It's so absurd. I guess the thought is that maybe someone new will happen on in and see some negative posts about HD and be scared off, and that will somehow hasten the return to analog-only broadcasting. Yeah, ok. That sounds like a plan.

If broadcasters (aka owners who just want to sell advertising) were left to their own devices, nothing would ever change. Look at the AM Stereo debacle. It's not that there wasn't the technology to get better sound out of AM. There was. But the FCC let the marketplace decide, and C-Quam became the de facto standard --and only then by those companies who chose to spend the money on it.

Were there no mandate for commercial TV broadcasters to upgrade and switch to digital, does anyone think that would have happened on its own? Really? Of course it wouldn't. Or if it did, it would have taken years longer. So to use the argument that HD Radio is dead or flat doesn't tell the whole story. If I'm a broadcaster who's not being compelled to invest in new technology, why would I? And since I'm not doing it, why would manufacturers bother to invest in it insofar as receivers are concerned? And the cycle continues.

Does this mean that HD Radio/IBOC Radio is perfect? Hardly. But until such time as the government declares a time line to end commercial analog broadcasting, anything that occurs will be in fits and starts, and no one will be totally happy with the resulting mating of analog/digital on the same frequency.

One person has posited that he thinks that if there were such a mandate that Americans would simply decide to give up radio. Well, if that's the case, what he's really saying is that radio already is a "take it or leave it" option, and that it wouldn't be missed if today's equipment couldn't be used tomorrow. If that's truly the state of American radio, then it surely is on a death spiral already. I see no compelling reason why it wouldn't then be the perfect time to bring it into the digital era since doing nothing leaves it already destined for the trash heap of entertainment options. In other words, what's there to lose? Surely our government in its zeal to bailout every conceivable industry would find some way to subsidize the costs to stations and citizens, no?
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post #14 of 16 Old 07-02-2009, 01:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noside View Post

You hear more content? Now that's surprising. Most HD1 and HD2 stuff I hear is just a rehash of programming you can get on existing radio. The quality issue is a non-issue. I bet I can play a regular analog FM signal side by side with a digital one and you couldn't tell the difference.

One cannot apply local experiences globally. I would invite anyone to come here to Detroit and try the same experiments. The variety of HD subchannel programming is quite diverse. The audio quality is noticeably better. For the lone AM music station in the market, it's astounding. We're spending the bucks to program a LIVE niche talk format on our HD3 sub. Broadcasters are interested.

Now, to your point: It's a Catch 22. Don't want to invest in the programming if there are no radios. No need to build radios if there isn't any interesting programming. However, we're seeing carmakers include HD Radio in current and future models. The radio that comes with the Mercedes is fantastic. No dropouts, incredible AM sound and very user friendly. Personally, I would like to see some FCC mandate to include HD tuning with future radios much as was done with ATSC in televisions.

Eventually, someone will hit on the programming that drives radio demand and the whole thing could start to play out just like in the FM days. And when a broadcaster in Market B sees his contemporary in Market A making money, he'll follow suit. It's the way radio has worked for generations. TV, too, for that matter.

However, there's still a chance that won't happen and HD Radio will disappear. I lived through the AM Stereo debacle, so I know that it's eventually up to the public to decide.

As for AM Stereo, if I may, its failure was that it was decades too late in coming along. It was a reaction to FM designed to make AM music formats still viable long after the horse had already fled the barn.

HD Radio is a reaction to satellite and could suffer the same fate except for a couple of glimmers: Satellite growth is stagnant because people generally don't like to pay for radio. And the horse hasn't left the barn in the least. FM radio useage for mucic is still going strong. Internet radio remains a threat to that if it ever becomes free and as easy to use in a mobile environment. Of course, radio companies are already covering that base, too.

PS: Trolling posts have been removed. As I have said in other threads, this forum is for the support and intelligent discussion of all things HD Radio. It's not a place where new posters can come in just to post "hd sux" or "u r stupid." Those members will be warned and, if they continue the schoolyard antics, removed immediately.

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post #15 of 16 Old 07-02-2009, 01:28 PM
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Well, if that's the case, what he's really saying is that radio already is a "take it or leave it" option, and that it wouldn't be missed if today's equipment couldn't be used tomorrow. If that's truly the state of American radio, then it surely is on a death spiral already. I see no compelling reason why it wouldn't then be the perfect time to bring it into the digital era since doing nothing leaves it already destined for the trash heap of entertainment options. In other words, what's there to lose?

The cost of the equipment and the annual license fees to Ibiquity.
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post #16 of 16 Old 07-02-2009, 02:37 PM
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Since all of this appears to be covered in the "dead now" thread, I'm closing this one.

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