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FCC Approves Digital Radio, Kills Satellite Merger 368

n8willis writes "...Just saw this AP article on Excite news: the FCC has just approved the first upgrade in broadcast radio technology in decades. It allows "CD quality" digital signals to be simulcast by stations along with their traditional analog feed. The tech comes from some company called iBiquity, and unlike Sirius or XM satellite radio, there will be no charge for listening. Some radio buff want to tell us what they know about this concept?" And wiredog writes "The Federal Communications Commission has voted 4-0 to reject a $26 billion merger between satellite TV providers Echostar Communications and Hughes Electronics.
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FCC Approves Digital Radio, Kills Satellite Merger

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  • CD Quality? (Score:4, Funny)

    by jazman_777 ( 44742 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:31PM (#4425987) Homepage
    RIAA [theonion.com],baby.
  • by theRhinoceros ( 201323 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:31PM (#4425989)
    voted 4-0

    Excuse me if this may seem like an extradinarily ignorant question, but wouldn't an agency that has as much power as the FCC be better served with a voting panel with an odd number off members?
    • I believe the FCC Chairman has a tie breaking vote.
    • Re:4 voting members? (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheMatt ( 541854 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:40PM (#4426085) Homepage Journal
      Well, you are right. According to the FCC:
      The FCC is directed by five Commissioners appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate for 5-year terms, except when filling an unexpired term. The President designates one of the Commissioners to serve as Chairperson. Only three Commissioners may be members of the same political party. None of them can have a financial interest in any Commission-related business.
      But, the FCC also acknowledges that there are only four commissioners at this time. I guess the Senate must be debating the fifth? Anyone know why there's four at the moment?
      • by RailGunner ( 554645 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @03:09PM (#4426385) Journal
        Probably for the same reason that there are numerous vacanies in the Federal Judiciary: Senate Democrats are not bringing any of Bush's appointments to a full Senate vote, choosing instead to kill off every nominee in committee.
        • by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @03:43PM (#4426681) Homepage
          Never mind the fact that Bush is nominating far right wing folks, knowing full well the Senate won't confirm any of them. Then he gets to point the finger at the Democrats for obstruction. Karl Rove is a damn genius. Does it bother anyone else that he runs the country?

          -B
        • I call BS (Score:3, Insightful)

          by _damnit_ ( 1143 )
          I call bullshit! The Republicans did the same thing to Clinton for six years. This is simply what happens when the White House and Senate are held by different parties. You can't expect Dems to approve the conservative right to life'rs that Bush sends up there. Toward the end of his term, he will send up a load of more centrist appointees (with hidden right-wing gems mixed in) to try to get some seats filled prior to a dem taking over. It happened with Clinton and Bush the First, it'll happen again. Don't sweat it too much.
      • Re:4 voting members? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cornflux ( 168139 )
        Sounds suspiciously similar to the problem with judical nominations, these days. Interestingly, the Democrats appear to be the source of the problem.

        The most recent example? The nomination of Judge Shedd [google.com]:

        "...Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) had promised a vote on Shedd and then violated committee rules by removing the nomination from the agenda of a Tuesday committee meeting."
        The funny thing is that he's already a U.S. District Judge and has been confirmed by Congress, previously.

        What a world...

      • by carlos_benj ( 140796 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @03:24PM (#4426508) Journal
        I guess the Senate must be debating the fifth?

        How refreshing! Usually they're pleading the fifth....
      • by dcgaber ( 473400 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @04:11PM (#4426991)
        This is a very timely question. It is answered in this article [rollcall.com] and this op-ed [suntimes.com].

        Basically, because Senator Leahy is holding up several judicial nominees, the Republican have fired back and put holds on several Democrat nominees, including Jonathan Adelstein, a staffer for Senate Majority leader Daschle and the current nominee for the 5th FCC spot.

        Traditionally, the FCC is filled with 5 commissioners, the majority and minority leader of the House and Senate choosing one each, and the President choosing the Chair.

        This is actually a big mess right now and causing some to observe they have not seen this type of rancor EVER in the Senate (and that is saying a lot).

        Meanwhile a gripe about the moderation system. I think it is ridiculous I can't mod any posts under this article now that I have chosen to add something to it. I comment on articles I am interested in, and I mod in threads I am interested, but I can't do both...that sucks (and yes, I understand the reasons to do so. But given the choice, I would rather comment than mod, but the best is to be able to do both).
  • Sigh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Marco_polo ( 160898 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:31PM (#4425993) Homepage
    It's things like this that delay early adoption of technology (at least in my eyes).. People will hold off on buying anything until a clear 'winner' emerges from this mess. I was considering Sattelite radio, now I see this. What to do?

    Maybe I'm just bitter at losing my pants on Sattelite Radio stock..

    • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Informative)

      by orev ( 71566 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:38PM (#4426058) Homepage
      These 2 things aren't even related.

      Satellite lets you have all the channels no matter where you are in the coutry, and you have to pay for it.

      The new digital FM is just an upgrade to regular FM, so you'll get some better sound and maybe a digital readout of what's playing. You still get to listen to the same crappy programming.

      There's no "will they ever learn" here. It's 2 completely different things.
      • by M-G ( 44998 )
        maybe a digital readout of what's playing.

        Of course, that technology already exists in the form of RDBS/RDS. Can also be used to transmit traffic alerts, advertising, etc.

        It's long been a real chicken and egg situation. Very few receiver mfrs implemented it in their products, and very few radio stations spent the money on the equipment.
      • Superstation (Score:3, Interesting)

        Satellite lets you have all the channels no matter where you are in the coutry

        A few years ago I did quite a bit of flying over Japan. I noticed that there seemed to be some sort of "Superstation" up and down the country. As soon as one broadcast began to fade from my scanner, I could tune in another identical broadcast (though on a different frequency.) If something similar was done in the U.S., but all on the same freq, there could be a digital superstation from coast to coast.

        1. Would current FCC rules allow this?

        2. Does anyone here know what the deal was with the station in Japan?
    • You are just bitter, but not as bitter as the RIAA is going to be once a Linux adaptor for this digital signal is available.

      You almost have to feel sorry for the recording industry. They are increasingly between a rock and a hard place since the radio business was deregulated. Now the RIAA is going to be stuck paying your local station to broadcast CD quality music. How long before there is a Tivo for radio?

    • by jcrb ( 187104 ) <jcrb&yahoo,com> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:42PM (#4426100) Homepage

      Digital simulcast of your local stations gets you just that, your local stations.

      I am perfectly happy to pay XM my $9.95 to bring me Fox News, BBC World Service, C-Span, CNET Radio :-), NASCAR, etc etc... and the music is good too, hell on *average* I hear the Sisters of Mercy on XM Fred, more times in one month than I have ever heard them in my entire life on comercial radio.

      In this case the saying that you get what you pay for really does apply.
  • by grumpygrodyguy ( 603716 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:32PM (#4425997)
    the FCC has just approved the first upgrade in broadcast radio technology in decades. It allows "CD quality" digital signals to be simulcast by stations along with their traditional analog feed.

    How much "bandwidth" does this new digital radio take up? Will it be something we have to contend for 10 years down the road when 802.11X takes off?

    Does anyone have a link to a good tutorial on how things are looking? Is there still a lot of "premium" airwave space for wireless internet to grow into, or are we heading towards another battle with corporate america?
    • by linefeed0 ( 550967 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:40PM (#4426082)
      More importantly, how much of the existing FM spectrum does this take up?


      Advocates for independent radio stations (a dying breed, I know) have been complaining for years that Clear Channel et al. have been using the threat of multiple digital radio standards to squelch the FCC's low power FM proposals (which were finally legislatively gutted last year, a move justified by the same rhetoric).


      This is sad given that digital radio offers no serious advantage on the FM band other than possibly longer range; FM quality is pretty damn good.

      • Don't get me wrong, I agree with you that it's a shame about what has happened with low-power FM, but let's be serious- FM isn't going anywhere any time soon. In my area of New England, there are still several active AM stations to be found on the dial. I mostly listen to a lot of college, ethnic, and public radio stations while I'm in the car, so for me the track and title information on digial radio would qualify as a serious advantage all by itself, not even considering the increase in sound quality.

      • This standard broadcasts in the sidebands of the current FM channels, usuing NO additional spectrum. No extra interference, no extra channels needed.

        As for FM quality, you obviously don't live in an area with lots of tall buildings, or one far away from the transmitters.

        What would be really cool is if they use it to start transmitting 4.1 audio streams. Mmmmmmm.
    • The "technology" page on ibiquity's website is already slashdotted, but I seem to recall from something I read last week that the digital channels were going to be transmitted over existing radio frequencies.

      Even if I'm wrong about that, I imagine that these digital radio channels will be carrying compressed audio, so that might allow stations to broadcast several content streams simultaneously. It would be cool if NPR could broadcast a high bitrate stream of a live concert at night, while running multiple low bitrate news and talk streams during the daytime. I would think that technology like this would increase programming diversity on the airwaves, once the price of equipment comes down.

    • Read their site. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <atd7@@@cornell...edu> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:50PM (#4426196) Homepage
      http://www.ibiquity.com/navframe.html?03content.ht ml

      I have to be careful not to say too much, since as their site is semi-Slashdotted, it's hard to say how much of this is public info and how much is "iBiquity proprietary" (I work at one of iBiquity's equipment partners, and have been working closely with some aspects of their system)

      Basically, when the FCC allocated the current FM spectrum, they allowed for a LOT of channel spacing for special features in the analog sidebands and also to take into account inferior receivers/bad transmitters.

      Modern transmitters can now output a much cleaner spectrum. Specifically, the FCC allocated a "guard band" around each FM channel, where an ideal FM station shouldn't have emissions but is allowed to "spill over". The guard band power can only be 1/100 of the power of the main band, but thanks to the SNR advantages of digital modulation, a digital signal needs only around 1/100 the power of an FM signal for the same range.

      So IBOC can allow an FM signal and a digital signal to coexist on the *same* channel. A cleaned-up FM signal in the main band, and a digital signal in the "guard bands".

      An eventual upgrade path is an all-digital signal, replacing the FM portion with a digital signal for greater bandwidth. This is a while off, due to the compatibility issues and also due to technical issues.
      • Tried their site, but /.ed

        I used to keep up with all the developments relating to IBOC, but have forgotten most of it. So will the digital stream be implemented on a subcarrier? Will existing stations need to go through the standard licensing process for adding a subcarrier service, or will their main license automagically cover the digital broadcast?
    • by wheatking ( 608436 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:52PM (#4426214)
      Office of Spectrum Management (i kid you not) @

      http://www.ntia.doc.gov/osmhome/osmhome.html

      Chart @

      http://www.ntia.doc.gov/osmhome/allochrt.html

      Useful links @

      http://www.ntia.doc.gov/osmhome/sites.html

      -wk

    • The technology is called IBOC, which stands for In Band On Channel.

      The technology works by using the portion of the 200kHz space that is allocated to every FM station, that the station is not using at that exact instant.

      The original choice of 200kHz spacing was set up by observing the nature of FM. The carrier was allowed to deviate from its center frequency by up to 75kHz in either direction. This deviation is used to encode the information onto the carrier.

      Audio is added to this carrier at a maximum frequency of 15kHz. The transmission of a 15kHz tone on a carrier, AM or FM, will result in sidebands (think "aliasing artifacts") developing on either side of the carrier at 15kHz away from the carrier.

      Since the carrier is modulated by changing its frequency, if we modulate this carrier with a 15kHz tone at what is called "full deflection", i.e. we move it a full 75kHz above centre to a full 75kHz below centre, then the whole amount of spectrum required to do this will be 180kHz. This is 90kHz either side of the centre frequency.

      Sanity check: The lowest-frequency artifact will be the lower sideband at the point when the carrier is at its maximum negative deflection. This will be the centre frequency, minus the deflection (75kHz) minus the width of the sideband (15kHz). This, in turn will be 90kHz below the centre.

      Similarly, the maximum frequency artifact will be the upper sideband at the point when the carrier is at its maximum positive deflection. This will be the centre frequency, plus the deflection (75kHz) plus the width of the sideband (15kHz). This, in turn, will be 90kHz above the centre.

      For stereo broadcasting, some additional, ultrasonic information is added to the carrier (this information is done via a transformation that is beyond the scope of this description). This higest frequency of the modulated data becomes 53kHz as a result of this. This, in turn, is not modulated to full deflection, so it still remains within the permitted space.

      For digital broadcasting, the digital data will be carried by a non-FM technique, and will be put together in concert with the analog FM signal. This signal will then be modulated in such a manner as it dodges the current location of the carrier. How?

      From my previous description, you can see that the carrier and its sidebands will, at any given instant, only occupy a 106kHz chunk of spectrum (carrier + both sidebands) for stereo, or a 30kHz chunk of spectrum for monaural. The remaining 94kHz or 170kHz of allocated space is empty. The digital data is placed there.

      Now, I hear you asking, won't this cause interference to the analog signal? Ths short answer is yes. However, as long as the digital signal is maintained at a lower signal strength than the analog one, an FM receiver will ignore the digital signal, due to a feature of FM called the "capture effect," wherein a receiver is "captured" by the strongest signal it hears, provided that signal is a particular strength over any other signals. The ratio of the strongest signal to the next strongest that still results in the strongest signal winning is called the "capture ratio."

      Nutshell, therefore, is that this will require no new spectrum, but will inestead make more judicious use of existing spectrum, unlike digital TV.

      One last note, about content. XM and Sirius have the potential to deliver something other than the Clear Channels pablum. That doesn't mean they will, nor does it mean that they will continue to do so if they do in the first place. Broadcast FM, however, and its new digital counterpart, have the potential to continue to deliver community-originated content, where community radio stations exist, such as our own local, WRPI.

  • by krb ( 15012 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:33PM (#4426006) Homepage
    Dude, RIAA is gonna be the biggest fan of this... Only not. Will radios no longer come with tape decks? Line outs? Speaker connections? Perhaps they'll only enable the audio out if the proper DRM key is inserted? I like the idea, but in the current climate, something tells me this is going to have an uphill battle.

    -k
    • Uphill is right.

      The entire non-event of DAT [libertyhaven.com] in the United States is a testament to the power of the recording industry to control the introduction of new technology.

      I have a feeling that we'll have analog connectors for a lot longer than is necessary or convenient from a technical perspective simply because of fears in some quarters that such connections endanger an existing revenue stream.

    • by cpeterso ( 19082 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @06:15PM (#4428090) Homepage
      RIAA Sues Radio Stations for Giving Away Free Music [theonion.com]

      LOS ANGELES--The Recording Industry Association of America filed a $7.1 billion lawsuit against the nation's radio stations Monday, accusing them of freely distributing copyrighted music.

      "It's criminal," RIAA president Hilary Rosen said. "Anyone at any time can simply turn on a radio and hear a copyrighted song. Making matters worse, these radio stations often play the best, catchiest song off the album over and over until people get sick of it. Where is the incentive for people to go out and buy the album?"

      According to Rosen, the radio stations acquire copies of RIAA artists' CDs and then broadcast them using a special transmitter, making it possible for anyone with a compatible radio-wave receiver to listen to the songs. ...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Does anyone know if this will require a new receiver in order to be utilized? If so, how long before these come to market?
    • Yup... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Andy Dodd ( 701 )
      I think that can be sort of assumed.

      I think that that receivers will not be the problem with market penetration - We've seen from the pricing of Sirius, etc. units that it won't be TOO bad.

      The barrier to adoption will be the broadcasters. It's going to be an EXPENSIVE upgrade for them.
  • by Prince_Ali ( 614163 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:33PM (#4426013) Journal
    CD quality music broadcast over wireless technology... for free?
  • good lord no! (Score:2, Informative)

    by z00ky ( 614811 )
    Ibiquity's IBOC system Sucks. Plain and simple. Am quality sounds like a 56k rated mp3. The side frequencies are hosed for advertising, and FM is no better, the side frequencies, are again hosed, and the sound quality is NOT CD, it's not even 128k!!! It's like 112! Seriously, the fcc is smoking the reefer. They cannot let this happen to radio.

    • I apologize up front, I normally don't subscribe to sarcastic remarks, but this is screaming at me.

      OH MY GOD ... ONLY 112!!! How will my normal, rational, non audiophile ears ever stand the crap that is 112.

      Seriously dude, most people can't (or don't want to) tell the difference between 64k, 128k, good radio signal, and cd-quality.
      Again, sorry for the sarcasm, but I just couldn'thelp it.
    • Re:good lord no! (Score:3, Informative)

      by SoCalChris ( 573049 )
      Am quality sounds like a 56k rated mp3

      Seriously, how great is the sound quality of stuff that is played on AM anyways? Probably 99% of the stuff on AM is either talk radio, or music that was recorded decades before digital music was even thought of. I'm sure MP3 encoded at 56k would be more than sufficient for AM broadcasts.
    • Re:good lord no! (Score:3, Informative)

      by Shelled ( 81123 )
      Mod this up. Normal radio station practice is to record all music to hard drive in (usually) MP2 format and then multi-band compress the hell out of it before broadcast. Most music you'll hear on IBOC will be double-encoded MPG with extreme processing accentuating the noise and distortion coding generates. It will not sound pretty. It also been my experience that codecs don't respond well to highly processed audio, my guess being because of the increased L-R it generates.

      In Canada we can run 192 to 224 kbps and still have a dim hope of preserving a semblance of quality.

  • by sketerpot ( 454020 ) <sketerpot@@@gmail...com> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:34PM (#4426023)
    If they would approve even more changes, it would be nice. I think that they should open up more radio frequency to unregistered use, for one thing. This would allow more room for technology like 802.11* and Bluetooth to work with.

    It would also be excellent of they would realize that with modern technology, they don't need to use so much of the radio spectrum for one TV or radio station. The spectrum is scarce, but the scarcity is largely artificial.

    This is encouraging. I just hope that this sort of thing continues and the FCC adapts to modern technology.

  • by nbvb ( 32836 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:34PM (#4426025) Journal
    Whoo hoo!

    This means my DirecTiVo is going to stay around for a while!

    I was afraid that Dish Network would push the Dishnet PVR on us once the merger went through .... blech, what a broken piece of hardware THAT thing is :-)

    Besides, DirecTV broadcasts in a higher quality than Dish does -- better picture, better sound, better service.

    I'm glad to see we're not going to be subject to Uncle Charlie (Ergen)'s pet wishes and peeves ...

    Now if we can avoid being bought by Rupert, we'll be OK :-)

    --NBVB
    • Actually Dish Network had intended to keep the networks separate for the foreseeable future. Their's and DirecTV's satelite systems are not compatible and it would cost BILLIONS to deobit and replace the DirecTV satelites. It would also cost Billions to replace all those recievers and I guarantee you consumers aren't going to buy new equipment. They would be more likely to get cable. IMO, this isn't really a bad or good thing. Combining Dish Network and DirecTV would have provided a strong competitor to monopolistic AOLTIMEWARNER, ATT, Charter, and Cablevision. Dish Network had promised to give up some satelite slots to Cablevision too so that they could start a satelite competitor. On the other side of the coin, we will still have two satelite competitors and DirecTV will most likely become the property of NewsCorp (if their hacking doesn't kill it) pretty soon. Now all I want is my NFL Sunday Ticket on Dish Network (coming next season).
    • yeah, no kidding about the dish compression. i was at costco watching dish on one of the hdtv plasma monitors right next to an ota (over-the-air) signal, and the ota blew dishnet away. i would not push inferior technology on people simply because there was no other alternative, so i am *certainly* glad the merger was not approved. oh, and as for digital cable, i'd rather NOT see ads with my program guide, kthxbye.
    • by -Surak- ( 31268 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @03:32PM (#4426581)
      Yeah, the Dish PVR really sucks, doesn't it. It runs Linux, it's completely hackable, is standards complient, and you don't have to pay $10 or whatever for a monthly subscription just to get your program listings. What a lame product. Yes, the early versions were a little buggy, but it's mostly worked out now. The TIVO was bug-free from day 1?

      If ANYONE really thinks that preventing this merger is in the public interest, I'd really like some of whatever they're smoking. The FCC is bought and paid for by the CATV industry, as we've seen before with the must-carry rules for satellite and local rebroadcasting rules. Let's look at the facts:

      1) Without a merger, it is not cost effective for either company to rebroadcast local channels is ALL markets. This means the cable companies will continue to have a monopoly on local content in these areas (yes, a lucky few can use an off-air antenna, but I don't know anyone that can get a decent signal this way). Echostar has committed to provide local service to ALL US markets within two years if the merger goes through.

      2) Echostar has committed to having a flat pricing model across the US. This means that in order to screw the rural customer, they would have to raise their prices so much that they would be much higher than CATV in markets where it is available. Since the the vast majority of wealthy markets (big spenders on PPV & movie channels - where providers make the big bux) are well covered by cable, it would not make economic sense to screw the poor rural customer to lose the rich suburban customer.

      3) An argument has been made that DirecTV users will need to shell out for new equipment. Echostar has stated that NO ONE will need to buy new equipment to receive the same services that they currently receive. They will provide new equipment for people that subscribe to services that are moved to DVB from the proprietary mess that DirecTV uses.

      4) Neither Echostar or DVB have subscriber bases big enough to compete with cable companies for program purchases. This means that they pay more for programming that they resell, and have a harder time keeping costs down. That said, they are STILL well below most cable pricing.

      People need to understand that although a merger will create a monopoly for DBS, it will create competition for TV providers - which is what really matters to joe consumer. Until satellite can deliver LOCAL broadcasts into all markets, they can't reasonably compete with cable - most people are not willing to give up local news and local used car dealer ads.

      The cable industry already has a monopoly, and they have lobbied the FCC very hard to keep it. This merger would ruin the monopoly they have had over the majority of american households for 50 years.

      Who honestly believes that anything the cable TV industry is FOR (preventing this merger) is in the best interest of the public?
  • this is good news (Score:3, Informative)

    by JoeBlows ( 581471 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:35PM (#4426035)
    now with digital signals, you can fit more stations on the local spectrum since digital will not "bleed" like analog does. better sound, and in 10 years or so, more choice...I can definatly see the end of satelite radio if local stations can keep up on the content.
  • The quality of radio today is pathetic (and I'm talking about the data itself, the content is a whole nother story). Static, pops, poor channeling, etc. Everybody knows this. And thus everybody thinks that it would be a good thing if we got the radio equivalent of HDTV, which is what this Digital thing is.

    But it's not, it's pure opiate.

    Both HDTV and Digital Radio employ an incredible amount of bandwidth. And we aren't talking about bandwidth in a wire where if you add more wires (or upgrade to fiber) you can magically fix the problem. There is simply a finite amount of broadcast bandwidth available, period. Widening the channels as these schemes require crowds out highly necessary bandwidth uses such as radio astronomy (including SETI), marine rescue channels, military radios, CBs (don't laugh, a lot of rural people depend on them) and of course cellphones.

    The real solution to our problem is to decrease the amount of useless bandwidth wastage out there, like the badly-named "SciFi" channel (aka the Pseudo-Science channel. XFiles, I'm looking at you). But no lawmaker is interested in reducing the opiate that The People are getting, so you can say goodbye to anything meaningful being done via broadcast in the US.

    • like the badly-named "SciFi" channel


      And MTV.....

    • Did you ever notice the Fi part of SciFi? That part stands for Fiction, as in "not real".

      If you want real science shows, try Discovery and The Learning Channel.

      If you're looking for a misnamed network, go to Comedy Central. It has evolved into the 18-30 male geek demographic network. They did bring us Crank Yankers, the funniest show I've seen this year, so I can't be too harsh on them.

      -B
    • Perhaps if you should research this technology before you comment on it? This technology uses the existing bandwidth allocated for radio by allowing existing radio stations to additionally broadcast their signal in digital in their current frequency allocation using much less bandwidth and with additional information like traffic conditions. "It was in this environment that the concept of in-band/on-channel (IBOC) digital audio broadcasting was born [see figure]. The idea was to create a terrestrial broadcasting system using a new digital signal that could be transmitted in-band alongside a broadcaster's existing analog signal. In theory, this would be ideal. It would require no extra allocation of spectrum, replicate the coverage of the existing services, and allow broadcasters to remain independent from one another--no need for combining audio programs as with Eureka." From the IEEE Spectrum [ieee.org]
    • He's complaining about bandwidth being wasted on the airwaves . And his example (and the follow-on example from SomeoneGotMyNick are both Cable-only channels. I would LOVE an explanation how one relates to the other.
    • by Zathrus ( 232140 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @03:16PM (#4426446) Homepage
      What crack are you on?

      DTV (which includes HDTV) uses no more bandwidth than current analog signals do. It's just that the technology is 50 years more advanced - you can do things in the same bandwidth that were previously impossible. And, better yet, it requires less spacing between bands because we're that much better about broadcasting too.

      I don't know about this new digital radio, but I'd be surprised if it used more bandwidth than an FM station.

      As for your concerns - one of the biggest proponents of DTV are the emergency services (police, fire, ambulance). Because they're in desperate need of bandwidth and Congress promised them a chunk of the current analog TV spectrum. Until DTV has completely replaced analog they can't get it. And they can't simply change their systems out and use the same bandwidth - it would require every single emergency service in the US to change at the same time, or else you'd wind up with areas of mixed mode traffic that are unusable for both systems.

      Military? Uh... the military is not in need of additional broadcast bandwidth. In fact, they're giving a lot of it back. If you think the bandwidth magic performed by DTV is incredible you haven't seen the military systems yet. Most comms are now point-to-point via laser or directional antenna to either an airborne platform or a satellite. Broadcast is spread spectrum and digital. Both use heavy encryption. The military is feeling the crunch, but in other ways -- the dependance on sat comms means that they don't have enough bandwidth on the sats themselves. That can be solved by finding additional orbital slots and launching new birds with better comms equipment.

      CBs and cellphones hardly need more bandwidth. Unless, of course, you're talking about illegal CBs that have had their wattage pumped way beyond FCC regs. Imagine that - they cause problems to everything on nearby or resonant frequencies. This is why the FCC limited them, and why there are newer technologies using different spectra and different encoding (often digital). Cellphone bandwidth is a total non-issue.

      As for your pseudo-science claims, you've managed to ignore all the real science in bandwidth usage and allocation thus far, so I'm not surprised you're bashing a channel that makes no attempt at real science and instead just shows entertainment. Oh, and it uses no over-the-air bandwidth either.
  • Digital AM (Score:4, Informative)

    by rgoer ( 521471 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:36PM (#4426041)
    I thought I remembered hearing, a few years ago, something about AM radio going digital starting sometime around October 2002. The original plan, as laid out by the in this news brief [drm.org] (and that's DRM as in "Digital Radio Mondiale", not the DRM we all know and hate) from the Digital AM Radio development Consotium, called for digital AM broadcast to start in 2001. Whenever digital AM does start (if it hasn't already), there may well be an AM renaissance, with many AM stations getting back to musical programming. The only other thing I remember right now is that I believe there are going to be multiple digital channels layered in with the analog broadcast, to give a quality of sound never heard before over free broadcast.
  • A war between the entertainment cartel and the defense industry over controlling infrastructure? Or is it just another plain-old standards battle?

    I don't like listening to today's radio, except for public radio in my area. (Santa Cruz) The last radio station I really liked was 105.3 before they got rid of Alex Bennett.

    I hope this doesn't lead to a battle for standards. I don't need to be fiddling between FM1, FM/D1, XM, CD, etc. I just want to hear decent music.

    Of course, if XM offers Phil Hendrie 24/7 cross-country, I'll be signing up immediately.
  • by brandido ( 612020 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:38PM (#4426055) Homepage Journal
    I can't that the RIAA is going to be happy with broadcasting Digital CD quality music for free without some sort of DRM provisions. Anybody know if the Digital Radio will include any sort of Broadcast Flag to disable recording? The article has Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy claiming that "We don't get many items where it's a win-win for everyone. There's no down side." From what I've seen, the RIAA sees a downside anytime there is Audio content that is digitized without protection.

    Favorite quote from article:
    Digital broadcasts use the same language as computers - a series of on and off electronic pulses.

    Now that is insightful!
  • IBOC (Score:5, Informative)

    by David E. Myers ( 11705 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:38PM (#4426060)
    This technique is also called IBOC, for In-Band On-Channel, since it coexists with existing analog signals. The brand name for the service is HD Radio.

    Can it be "CD-quality" at about 96 kbps? We'll see.

    A good site for learning more about IBOC is Radio World Online [rwonline.com].

  • Nice, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gpinzone ( 531794 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:40PM (#4426080) Homepage Journal
    "The Federal Communications Commission voted 4-0 to adopt digital radio technology created by iBiquity Digital Corp., a company backed by large broadcasters including ABC and Viacom. "

    I don't have a lot of confidence that this new technology won't be tainted with nasty things like DRM, forced commercials, etc.

    "The digital broadcasts will be free, unlike the subscriber services offered by Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio Holdings, which beam music and talk to radios from satellites."

    Yeah, until they want to start offering "Premium" channels.

    "Supporters say the new technology will bring CD-quality sound to FM broadcasts, an end to static for AM and new data features."

    The term CD-quality gets thrown around to loosely. I'm assuming the stream uses a lossy compression scheme like streaming MP3, OGG, etc. It may be good, but probably not truly CD quality.
    • Yeah, I don't think they'll be putting a the full CD bitstream on the air either. But the lossy compression scheme they choose will decompress to 44.1kHz, 16-bit, stereo, so they'll call it CD quality.
  • Why so long? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jouster ( 144775 ) <.slashdot. .at. .angelfaq.com.> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:43PM (#4426111) Homepage Journal
    Digital technology has been around forever. Why are they finally moving now?

    Three reasons:
    1. Companies had extreme fears of perfect digital copies of works from the radio that were the same as what was on store shelves. Now that they have a better product, SACDs, to sell, they can afford to give away lower-quality versions for comparatively small radio licensing fees.
    2. Digital broadcasting equipment has finally come down in price, and, more importantly, the proliferation of digital tuners and MP3 receivers have proven that electronics can be built into car audio players at low cost.
    3. Finally, Sirius and XM have been making some waves with their coast-to-coast, good stations, but that's really more of a retention quality than a marketing quality. (How do we know if we like a particular DJ if we've never heard the station, which we wouldn't if we don't have the system?) Their biggest, best marketing move is "universal reception, digital quality." The digital radio folks can't promise the former, but the latter can be done very easily. After so long, the radio stations, which feared losing the listeners to CDs if they let them record their favorite songs, have come around to, "Well, if we don't give them the quality, someone else will--at a better profit margin!"
    4. And a fourth, bonus reason: with the slump in computer sales, Circuit City needed something new to sell the geeks. ;)
    Jouster
    • Wrong... (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The main reasons it's taken so long are technical.

      IBOC has a lot of technical requirements that strain even modern transmitter technology to its limits. Old-school FM allows a relatively primitive transmitter to operate *extremely* efficiently since FM contains no information in the amplitude of the signal. Hence, a class-C amplifier can be used, which is pretty simple and on the order of 60-80% efficient.

      Digital techniques have amplitude information in the signal. Hence, the amplifier has to be linear, which means that good 'ole class C is out of the question. Most linear amplifiers are at best 50% efficient, and that's theoretical. (Cutting edge technology allows 45-50% to be achieved with the linearities required, but it's a LOT harder than building a simple class-C amp.)

      Meeting the iBiquity specs means that transmitter manufacturers need to use the latest and most modern technology they can, stuff that's cutting-edge even for people who have been doing linear amplifiers for a long time.

      It's not as much of a problem with digital TV - These guys are AM to begin with, hence have been using reasonably linear systems from the beginning.
  • Well Let's See (Score:3, Informative)

    by asv108 ( 141455 ) <alex@phata[ ]o.org ['udi' in gap]> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:44PM (#4426130) Homepage Journal
    We have only 2 major satellite companies: Direct TV and Dish Network, they want to merge to create one major DSS company? It's pretty obvious why they turned this one down, what's news about this story is that it's even a story. If the administration and the courts would actually uphold antitrust laws, they would have never even attempted this merger.

    I believe they were trying to use cable companies as the reason for merging since satellite customers only make 25% of the pay TV market, but a large amount of DSS customers have no other choice but satellite. Go take a drive in a rural area and you will see a dish mounted on top of every trailer.

  • by CSG_SurferDude ( 96615 ) <wedaa@wedaa . c om> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:47PM (#4426162) Homepage Journal
    Oh great, that's all I need...

    Digial quality Britney, Christina, and a bunch of Boy Bands.

    Excuse, me, I think I'll Pass.
    • They should make the radio cache the songs. This way, they could just transmit a command like "play boyband X song Y" Since there is a limited playlist, this could really free up some bandwidth.
  • by andyring ( 100627 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:47PM (#4426165) Homepage
    I've had XM Radio [xmradio.com] in my car for several months, and really enjoy it. When I go back to regular radio, I have to stop myself from hitting buttons to see the song title and artist, etc., as I can with my XM. If this type of technology will be incorporated into digital radio (why wouldn't it be?), it could be a pretty cool thing. We hear from time to time about goofy systems using your cell phone where you can call a number and automatically purchase the CD containing the song playing on the radio (I don't think that idea ever took off) but I could see something more along these lines with digital radio.

    But, I could see this end up like digital TV as well, where it's hindered with restrictions, requires expensive equipment, and will ultimately (likely) result in the FCC forcing it upon us. I can see five or ten years down the road when my beautiful vacuum-tube antique console stereo won't have any radio signals to pick up! Ultimately, sadly, this is probably a way for the big shots to control more and more of what we listen to and how we listen to it, not to mention it'll probably make obsolete the nice, expensive receiver I purchased recently (thinking I'd use it for years to come).

    Why can't the cronies at the FCC get it through their thick, ugly skulls to LET THE MARKET dictate what happens! C'mon, it's basic economics. Look at satellite TV and digital cable. No government agency forced this upon us, but people buy it in droves! Granted, digital radio isn't being forced on us (yet), but it's probably on the horizon.

  • by class_A ( 324713 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:47PM (#4426168)
    Digital Radio is already up and running in the UK, although very few people are listening to it!

    I work for a large ILR station and whilst we now broadcast digitally, I don't think anyone is really interested in promoting the fact in the short term.

    The cheapest standalone DAB radio is £99. I think there is a USB device for a PC which retails around £50. Most people have 5-6 radios to replace if they want to go digital! Plus there is no portable, battery powered solution right now.

    Listening numbers may increase in the next couple of years as car manufacturers start to build DAB tuners in to the cars, as Ford will start doing shortly.

    Most of the national digital radio broadcasters also get their channels carried on the Sky Digital TV platform otherwise they would have next to no listeners!

    In Europe, we use a standard called Eureka 147, which is referred to as Digital Audio Broadcasting or DAB. This is incompatible with the system that is being proposed for the USA.

    Then there's the content problem. Existing stations merely rebroadcast and most of the new specialist stations are automated so you may as well listen to your iPod anyway. The only group seem to be doing anything useful with the technology is the good old BBC.
    • DAB has been available in Canada for some time now, they've been advertising for it now for over 2 years. Take a look at the DAB Canada [digitalradio.ca] site, it explains the technology and lists the stations that already broadcast a digital signal. I know you can buy car receivers ready for DAB signals already...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:49PM (#4426181)
    I work as a DJ for a community radio station (WTJU wtju.radio.virginia.edu) and we just discussed this system at a recent meeting. It costs a fortune (in community radio terms) to upgrade to this system _and_ it requires a new device on the listener's end. iBiquity's ubiquity (sorry, I had to) could easily kill off another whole bunch of community radio stations, possibly mine.

    Did the big guys (Clear Channel, etc.) know this would be the case when they lobbied for it? Of course! They're simply trying to kill off more competition.

    As it is, community radio stations are having a really tough time. WTJU's FCC license is owned by the Univerity of Virginia (which provides _some_ support for the station), which means that they can sell it to the highest bidder if they want. This is happening all over the place to financially strapped universities. When an FCC license goes for 10+ million dollars, and their budget from the state is skimpy, it's a pretty attractive proposition for the schools.

    This blows.

    -Dan

    p.s. So do the unrealistic reporting regulations for internet broadcasting of radio. WTJU could have it's payments to BMI, ASCAP, etc., for internet broadcasting paid for by a non-profit (can't remember which one, it's something along the lines of PBS), but we can't afford to keep track of all of the information they require with the filings.
  • by freeze128 ( 544774 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @02:59PM (#4426289)
    ...that I don't listen to the radio now that I have a CD-changer in my car. Certainly, I'm not the only one who despises the radio. I stopped listening because of too many commercial breaks, too LONG commercial breaks, inconvenient commercial breaks, and ridiculously short playlists.

    Sometimes when i'm just driving to work, I get the tail end of a song and then 17 minutes of commercials. I hear one song, and then I'm at work. It's just not worth it.
    • I thought I was the only one to quit listening to radio because of that. I used to listen to a talk radio station on my way to work in the morning - Half hour commute - one way - When I realized all I was getting was a weather report (one minute) and five minutes of content. Hooked up with 24 minutes of commercials.

      I occaisionally listen to a classical station that has no commercials - or more often, just enjoy the silence of my ride.

      I wonder what happened to quality instead of quantity in advertising - Charge more for the ad time and have less commercials that way I am not deluged by unwanted annoying ads, and the radio station still makes the same amount.
  • This Sucks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mozumder ( 178398 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @03:01PM (#4426310)
    The FCC should have at least chosen a different digital modulation scheme, that although may not be backwards compatible, would enable bandwith to open up. I would rather have 500+ channels from multiple local vendors than 20 ClearChannel/ABC owned station all broadcasting the same useless fucking Eminem/Nelly song over and over. Right now the FCC is not taking applications for any more FM radio stations (although thousand try to apply). The move to digital would have allowed more people to enter the market, but instead the FCC didn't open up bandwith using a different scheme.

    Also, why a proprietary audio encoding scheme? Why not open source, royalty free Ogg Vorbis? And a good digital encoding scheme doesn't need to have fixed bandwitdh requirements, either - some channels could be 8kbps mono, while other channels could be full 1Mbps surround+data/video, all using the same decoder/tuners.

    I think its time to drop AM/FM/VHF/UHF entirely.
  • wonderful (Score:4, Funny)

    by Raiford ( 599622 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @03:01PM (#4426313) Journal
    Now I can get CD quality lousy programming. At least with satellite I am not stranded in the programming desert that I find in broadcast radio here in Sacramento

  • Same old... (Score:2, Funny)

    by tigertigr ( 610853 )
    This is all well and good, but the DJ is still gonna talk over the start and ends of the song, thereby fucking up your nice digital recording.
  • SLASHDOT EDITORS: Just because both stories had the word "FCC" in it doesn't mean it's the same story. (Or is this a test-drive of a new piece of SlashCode that tries to be like GOOGLE NEWS, only it's really bad at it?)
  • New functionality (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sogol ( 43574 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @03:04PM (#4426342) Journal
    This story was covered briefly on NPR this morning. To paraphrase what I heard: In-dash digital-radio capable radios are supposed to be available starting at the end of this year, and will be standard in many 2004 model cars. That capability is projected to cost about $100 extra. They will have "hot-keys" for real-time stock prices, weather, news, traffic, etc. There will also be a mp3player-like display for "Track Name", "Artist", etc)
  • by pro-mpd ( 412123 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @03:07PM (#4426365) Homepage
    sure, it's a "standard," but think about this for a minute. gm vehicles have been coming with xm for a while. what happens to the people that bought xm? what about people who want digital radio but have a radio they want to keep, or a high-end head unit that they bought for quality but can't get any models with digital? car radios need to be more like home stereos. we're dealing with products that are basically a closed system, no expandability which need to be replaced whenever we want a new feature. not to mention that of the few forays into this matter, only a few are truly useful, namely the car stereos with line inputs. screw the "xm ready" proprietary hookups. it needs to be more universal.

    then again, i want a toilet made out of solid gold, but it's just not in the cards, baby. sorry for the rant.
  • satelite radio (Score:2, Interesting)

    by newr00tic ( 471568 )

    What if(tm) someone launced a satelite "dedicated" to high-quality radio broadcasts? Wouldn't that have conserved some of the "earthly" bandwidth apparently being wasted on this-and-dat(tm)? A "side-effect" would be that the channel(s) would be (potentially) available globally..

    This is expensive and yada yada; move the rainforests to another planet, and so on.. It still should be possible to do this, technically.

    - In space @ 96khz someone is bound to hear you scream..



  • by IEEEmember ( 610961 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @03:09PM (#4426379) Journal
    To address repeated comments about spectrum usage, no additional spectrum is required.

    Please see Digital Radio Takes to the Road specfically the section on IBOC (In-band/On-channel). Specifically see this figure [ieee.org] which presents how the data is added to the current AM and FM channels.

  • by jukal ( 523582 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @03:16PM (#4426445) Journal
    > It allows "CD quality" digital signals to be simulcast

    Try searching for example /. for "CD quality", just in the "stories" part this string is matched hundreds of times. When did "CD quality" become the standard for excellent sound quality. And why? Is it because you can call anything to be of "CD quality" - if your quality prooves to be crap, then just select a lousy CD.

    Although this might sound like a joke, it would be interesting to back-trace whether someone or some organisation started marketing this standard actively some time in the recent history. Or is just an accident?

    • > When did "CD quality" become the standard for excellent sound quality. And why?

      If you really want to know, CD quality (44.1KHz, 16bit) is the defacto standard because
      A) It was the first digital format that consumers adopted, and was clearly superior to analog, and

      B) Because 44KHz is the lowest sampling frequency that does not produce audible artifacts from sampling the CD's target 20-20KHz bandwidth (with a 2KHz buffer for noise filter clamping) as the noise introduced by quantization is above the range of (most) human hearing and can be safely filtered.

      Now, one can debate bit depths, because it is likely that 16bit vs. 24 bit might be audible to some people, but sampling rate is pretty much a non-starter. You really don't need higher than 44KHz for playback. You won't hear a difference.

      During actual (studio) mixing, you want to keep the bitrate and sample rate higher... While I think 'cd quality' is good enough, continuous requantization at the minimum levels CAN produce audible artifacts. So 96KHz/24bit actually has a place at the mixing stage. You don't need it for playback though.

      So, CD quality is the standard because anything 'better' requires more storage, with no audible results, and the technology of the CD at the time very handily held 74 minutes of audio at that rate, enough to fit a normal-sized album. There was some science involved with the initial selection of the sampling rate, and the bit depth just came about from the fact that 16 bits is an even byte-depth, and the minimum required so that no one complained about quanitization anomalies.
  • by Klaruz ( 734 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @03:18PM (#4426461)
    It suffers from the same problem as web radio. You're sending a digital stream to a user's reciever. Even with a flag, a user could bypass it and copy digital quality music from it. At least that's the theory behind the taxes that web radio must pay to the RIAA.

    Essentialy that $.0007 (for now, legislation is in the works to change it) is to pay for the users who will copy the music off the streaming station. Analog broadcasters don't pay it because they're analog. They wanted digital to pay it because it would mean web radio never got a chance to foothold and give them some competition. The RIAA wants it so they can line their pockets, unlike ASCAP/BMI (that most web radio stations pay and all analog pay) that goes right to the artists.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.
  • by ianscot ( 591483 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @03:18PM (#4426463)
    Until "zany" morning show hosts are prohibited by law from cutting into, fading out, and otherwise shredding music on the air, I can't see the RIAA sweating this one that much. Sure, the sound of "Dangerous Dan the Morning Man" and his "Zoo Crew" of backups might be crystal clear, but nobody wants to record it at the start and finish of "Thunder Road" for posterity.

    If this substantially increases the range of local FM stations, suppressing static until the signal's at the point of total breakup, it's just an enhanced advertizing venue to the RIAA people. Their canned programming lists -- and they already feel in control of that area of music distribution -- can just get to more people.

    They understand radio, it's a broadcast medium, not a point-to-point one.

  • I Still like SCA (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ch-chuck ( 9622 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @03:28PM (#4426545) Homepage
    An ancient system, low quality muzak, Subsiderary Communications Authorization - commercial free elevator music! It's supposed to be a pay service for offices etc, but with the right decoder from Ramsey Electronics and connection to an FM set (has to pickup before deemphasis as it's up around 67Khz in the audio). Little known and fairly easy to pick up. But there's only one left in my metro area, probably they're dying off. I love it, I really do! There's no commercials, no vocals or words, nothing offensive or nerve wracking, no politics, news or sports, just plain, bland wallpaper music, ALL the time, heheh.
  • Will it cost more? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by anthony_dipierro ( 543308 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @03:52PM (#4426797) Journal

    It allows "CD quality" digital signals to be simulcast by stations along with their traditional analog feed.

    Sounds like a "digital audio transmission". Don't radio stations have to pay (a lot) extra to broadcast that due to the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995?

    If not I think I'm going to start my own radio station - over 802.11b.

  • DAB in the UK (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fiddlesticks ( 457600 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @03:55PM (#4426826) Homepage
    Some FAQs [dabdirectory.co.uk]

    Some technical FAQs [bbc.co.uk] (from the BBC)

    We've had DAB in the UK since 1995. (Don't know why the UK is so ahead on some of the broadcasting innovations, but hey. Maybe it's the BBC :)

    Takeup has been slow, gradually starting to take off with a) Cheap (~150USD) sets [worlddab.org] and b) digital radio being able to be received on Digital TV sets as well

    Sound quality is excellent, reception seems miles better than analogue radio, usability great - tune via genre, station, etc. Newer DAB sets have track/ artists info displayed on the set.

    I haven't yet succumbed, as I get many new channels through my DTV set, and also as I live in London where there are many, many local/ pirate stations to choose between

    If I lived outside a city, you betcha.

  • More info at Wired (Score:5, Informative)

    by dirvish ( 574948 ) <dirvish@noSPAM.foundnews.com> on Thursday October 10, 2002 @04:07PM (#4426951) Homepage Journal
    2 good articles over at Wired. One on the approval of the digital standard [wired.com] and another on the merger rejection [wired.com].
  • by Newer Guy ( 520108 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @04:11PM (#4426988)
    Ibuiquity is on channel FM. A digital carrier is inserted at a level about 20 db below the main carrier. Because of the 'capture effect' of FM modulation, a signal 20 db down will not interfere with the main (analog)FM signal. However there is a caveat: The above is true only when the FM receiver is in full limiting (strong signal). With a weak signal, all bets are off. By the way, Ibquity runs with a (MASSIVE) 96 Kbits/sec, using a modified form of APT-X compression. Try listening to a 96K MP3 file and you'll get the idea of how good (or bad, depending upon your point of view) Digital FM will sound. By the way, Digital AM radio by Ibquity runs with a (HUGE) 32Kbits/second stream. It just don't sound too good....
  • by wyopittsa ( 310894 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @04:27PM (#4427116)
    The FCC and DOJ were particularly concerned that the merger of DirectTV and Echostar would effectivle create a monopoly. Charlie Ergan and the rest of the advocates of the merger argued that the merger was necessary in order to effectively compete with cable. The problem is that in many areas of the country (rural areas, and more than you might think) consumers have a choice of either satellite or nothing. So, the merger would have effectively been a 2:1 and created a monoply in many areas of the country. While it's true that competitive efficiencies may have increased in some urban areas (big satellite company v. cable), the FCC's general policy is that creating competive efficiencies in one market isn't worth creating a monoply in other markets.
  • by yusing ( 216625 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @04:49PM (#4427360) Journal
    What's Digital FM really about?

    Here's [thelocalplanet.com] all you need to know:

    (Yes, the article is about LPFM.)

    "What it comes down to -- again -- is money, pure and simple. If an LPFM station takes a slot on the FM dial, then it's one less corporate FM station that can make money off of that allotted frequency. Another argument posed by NAB was that, with the appearance of digital FM, corporate radio stations need all the bandwidth they can get because digital FM takes twice the amount of bandwidth needed by conventional FM broadcasting [emphasis added]. Corporate FM wants to give you, the listener, "CD quality" sound. Digital FM has failed to produce the desired effect, thus making "hogging the FM dial" another groundless NAB contention.

    "With Kennard out of the way, the current FCC Chairman Michael Powell is considerably less tolerant of LPFM. And why not, since the NAB is one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, DC, and can pretty much whip out its wallet and buy whomever they want."
  • by charnov ( 183495 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @04:51PM (#4427384) Homepage Journal
    Here is a list of stations that is CURRENTLY testing this technology. I have no idea what type of receiver you need for this.

    WNEW-FM (102.7) in New York; WETA-FM (90.9), WHFS-FM (99.1), WJFK-FM (106.7), WAMU-FM (88.5), and WTOP-AM (1500), in Washington, D.C.; KLLC-FM (97.3), KDFC (102.1) and KABL-AM (960) in San Francisco; WILC-AM (900) and WPOC-FM (93.1) in Baltimore; WNOP-AM (740) in Cincinnati, WPST-FM (97.5), and WBJB-FM (90.5) in Central, N.J.; KWNR-FM (95.5), KNPR-FM (89.5), and KSFN-AM (1140) in Las Vegas; and WGRV-FM (105.1) and WWJ-AM (950) in Detroit; WWMO-FM (98.9), in Orlando.
  • by Zen Mastuh ( 456254 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @06:01PM (#4427994)

    ...Echostar's Board of Directors is wondering who the hell forgot to give the check to the GOP last week.

  • Bastards! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Thursday October 10, 2002 @06:39PM (#4428229)
    "The Federal Communications Commission has voted 4-0 to reject a $26 billion merger between satellite TV providers Echostar Communications and Hughes Electronics."

    Hughes and Echostar were saying that such a merger would give them the hardware to give more areas access to local stations through the satellite signals. Now that that's fallen through, it seems the only way I'll get decent reception for Enterprise is by paying ~$12 a month to Cox for their lifeline service.

    Or does anybody know of a decent low-profile VHF/UHF antenna?

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