A recent proposal to increase the power levels at which HD Radio stations operate – to improve coverage and, perhaps more importantly, building penetration so that people can receive digital channels inside buildings – has been the subject of a cautionary study released by National Public Radio.  That study was summarized in a story in the NPR magazine Current (an executive summary can be found here, and the entire 280 page study is here).  The study agrees that an increase in power suggested by the recent proposal would increase HD Radio coverage and significantly increase building penetration, but it would do so only at the cost of causing interference to existing analog stations – in some cases significant interference.  Such interference would be especially troublesome in receivers in cars, where radio broadcasters have long concentrated some of their most important programming to capture people in the place where competing entertainment options are most limited.   

The NPR study does suggest that there could be ways to limit the interference using directional antennas or lessening power but using digital boosters that could be tuned slightly off-center on their frequencies to protect adjacent channel stations.  HD radio operates on the sides of a station’s analog channel (thus its original name – "IBOC" for In-Band On-Channel), thus potentially causing interference to adjacent channel stations.  By suppressing the signal on the side of the signal nearest to the adjacent channel station and sending the digital bits out of the other side of the channel, some of this interference could be minimized.  Yet systems capable of such protections have not yet been fully developed.


Continue Reading NPR Study Suggests Concerns With Increase in HD Radio Power

We wrote last month about the fact that the Copyright Office has initiated a major proceeding to reexamine the statutory licenses that allow cable systems and satellite distributors to retransmit the programming of local television stations.  A statutory license allows retransmission of television signals by these multichannel video providers without getting the consent of copyright owners of each and every program (and program elements contained in the programming, e.g. music) that a broadcast station may feature in its programming. As part of this proceeding, the Copyright Office promised to hold public hearings on these licenses. The Office has announced the schedule for these hearings, to be held from July 23  to July 26. Parties interested in participating in the hearings need to register their interest on or before June 15. The Copyright Office’s notice about the hearing, which contains instructions on the process for filing a request to testify, can be found here.

Written comments in this important proceeding are due July 2. The Copyright Office has also encouraged interested parties to file suggested questions to be posed to the participants in the hearing by July 2.  Reply comments in the case are due on September 13.  The Copyright Office has also encouraged parties to respond to the testimony presented at the hearing in their reply comments. 


Continue Reading Copyright Office to Hold Hearings on Video Statutory Licenses