Stronger HD Signals

Scott Fybush
Thu Mar 13 19:09:57 EDT 2014

On 3/13/2014 2:46 PM, Nickolas Noseworthy wrote:

> With no show of interference? What does the digital band interfere
> with that would make it so detrimental to move beyond a measly 3%?

The problem is that bit about the digital being on adjacent frequencies 
outside the 200 kHz of bandwidth occupied by the analog signal.

So take WKLB for instance: if it cranks up digital power on "102.5," 
it's really putting more energy into the bandwidth used by the analog 
signals of stations on 102.7 and 102.3. That's a very real-world problem 
if you're Rhode Island Public Radio trying to reach as much of the state 
as possible on WRNI-FM 102.7.

Pretty much every FM in the northeast is already short-spaced, so 
there's not much breathing room to start dropping digital signals in at 
higher power. Imagine the mutual destruction if, say, WHRB and WBRU both 
put on high-power HD: WBRU's lower sideband on 95.3 would cut into 
WHRB's analog, and WHRB's upper sideband on 95.5 would do the same to WBRU.

> The more options and variety
> you put on your main channel and sub-channels, coupled with more
> power, it seems only logical that an increase in listernship would
> occur. Which would mean more revenue. Please tell me if I'm wrong.

That was certainly the theory when this all started a decade ago. But 
the radio industry didn't understand that the radios weren't going to 
sell themselves, and until recently there's been no coherent 
industry-wide effort to do what the SiriusXMs and Sprints of the world 
have done: provide incentives to the electronics industry to support 
your efforts.

The kids in the blue shirts at Best Buy get kickbacks when they sell a 
satellite radio or a Verizon cellphone. They don't get anything extra 
when they sell an HD Radio. Which do you think they'll push harder when 
Joe Consumer walks in the door?

And on a larger scale, the satellite and wireless companies are paying, 
heavily, to be in the dashboard of your next car. HD, not so much. 
That's why it's a near-certainty that whatever you buy next will come 
with a SiriusXM trial and, soon, with a wireless data connection. The 
radio industry let a decade of that go by before it tried to fight back, 
and now it's probably too late.

Also, the big guys with the HD signals - Clear Channel, Entercom, 
Greater, CBS - have spent literally hundreds of millions of dollars 
ensuring that they have exclusive use of the scarce full-power FM 
signals in markets like Boston. How much would they have to charge an 
independent AM like WNTN or WUFC or (not that he'd ever pay it) WJIB to 
make the extra potential competition worth it?

And what ethnic broadcaster will shell out thousands of dollars a month 
to lease an HD channel that few listeners can hear, when they can spend 
that same money, or less, putting a pirate signal on the air that 
everyone can hear on analog FM?

It's a tough economic case to make right now for HD.

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