October 8, 2004

Another Analog to Digital Transition Coming [4:41 pm]

And one that is likely only to continue to engeder controversy about what constitutes copying (not to mention a host of spectrum issues): Building a 21st century radio

Digital technology is coming slowly but surely to radio, promising to rock the industry with enhancements such as improved reception, as well as on-demand programming and time-shifting that have begun to tantalize TV viewers even as they terrorize Hollywood.

Digital radio growth has been slow in the United States, but adoption is ramping up quickly overseas, where “memory radios” that allow listeners to pause, rewind and record live broadcasts are already being sold

[...] Such developments are making the recording industry nervous. Record labels are already worried that digital radio will allow people to record and keep pristine copies of music, and they’ve lobbied federal regulators to include some kind of anticopying mechanism in the digital radio standards.

But while that debate is ongoing, the broadcast industry is already making the switch. The Federal Communications Commission set the basic digital radio standard, based on technology from a company called iBiquity, late in 2002.

According to that company’s Web site, almost 400 stations are now licensed to broadcast in iBiquity’s HD Radio format, although far fewer than that are actually broadcasting today. Recent announcements have included news that giant Clear Channel would upgrade 1,000 of its top stations to digital format within the next three years.

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