Friday, November 21, 2008

HD Radio - Who's Listening?

H.R. 7157 is a senate bill that would require HD Radios be built into every satellite radio tuner as a requirement for the merger. It's currently Docket Number 08-172 on the FCC's agenda.

The bill has a lot of bafflegab about giving consumers choices, most of it virtually word-for-word what iBiquity and the NAB presented to Congress back when the XM/SIRIUS merger looked like it had legs.

The proposal is currently under consideration by the FCC, and open for public comment. And the commentary seems to break down into two camps. Employees of commercial radio (whether they admit the connection or not) are for it, citing consumer choice, and actual consumers who are against it, pointing out that the government would be requiring them to pay extra for technology that they don't want. From the consumers:

I prefer you do not switch the radio to digital. We already have to pay to change our TV- now you want us to pay for the 'upgrades' to our 3 cars? With this economy, give us a break!
I find it very telling that this docket has recieved a mere 52
comments. Nobody cares about HD radio. It is a failed technology.
And the radio industry:
Digital FM and soon to be digital AM signals will re-energize the existing radio world as we know it. More programming, more services should be accessible via this very simple and inexpensive addition to the SDAR's "radios" where at the push of the button, fee-less digital radio can be had. Such a positive decision of this type would promote and foster a stronger and more open-frame diverse radio climate for our country.
And the auto industry, which is what this is really all about. Terrestrial radio believes that if they can force HD Radio into cars (where satellite radio's already an option), then HD Radio will take off, and satellite radio will be killed forever. How do carmakers stand on this?

The Alliance’s members oppose any action by the Commission that would require the
incorporation of HD Radio technology into satellite radio receivers. First, the Alliance believes
that current market forces are sufficient to afford consumers the opportunity to purchase vehicles with HD Radio if they so desire.

If you're a satellite radio subscriber, you might want to make a public comment. So far, there's a little over 50, with a significant number posted from Clear Channel, iBiquity, Saga Communications, et al.

The radio industry is telling the FCC that mandated HD Radio is best for the consumer. Actual consumers are telling them differently.

What decision can we expect when the dust settles? Would it make a difference if there were twice as many consumer comments as radio industry ones? A hundred more? A thousand?

- Ralph

Day 154 of the WJMA Web Watch.


  1. Anonymous10:22 AM

    The FCC probably doesn't have the authority to mandate HD Radio, thus the bill by Rep. Markey. I can't believe that this bogus bill would ever have a chance, as it probably violates anti-trust laws, and could be opposed in court:

  2. Still, I think people should not pass up this opportunity to make their wishes known. The more people that on record opposing this move, the more difficult it will be to dress this legislation up as something that's done for the public good.

  3. Anonymous12:24 AM

    "Ford Slams HD Radio Inclusion Proposal"

    "In an interesting move, Ford Motor Company has come out against a proposed rule that would require all satellite receivers to include HD radio capabilities. The position Ford is taking is interesting because Ford was one of the first major auto makers to announce a deal with HD Radio for installations of HD technology their cars."

    "iBiquity Digital Investor Information"

    "Leading Manufacturers include Ford Motor Company, Harris Corporation, Texas Instruments and Visteon Corporation."

    I already posted a comment on the FCC website - Ford, and investor in iBiquity, just dissed HD Radio. David Oxenford, of BroadcastLawBlog, stated that the FCC doesn't have the autority:

    "FCC Tackles Equipment Manufacturers for Not Including DTV Tuners in Their Devices" Written By: David Oxenford On September 23

    "Congress, as part of legislation authorizing and mandating the DTV transition, has given the FCC authority to regulate DTV receivers. No specific Congressional authority covers radio receivers for their digital conversion (which, at this point, is not a mandatory conversion)."

    Now, we have to worry about Reps. Malatkey's bogus bill.