North East RadioWatch: April 7, 2000

"Quick," What's On 93.5/93.9?

by Scott Fybush

Finally this week, a few more notes about LPFM in the wake of all the response last week's Rant generated:

Several of you pointed out, quite correctly, that one of the concerns about relaxing third-adjacent protection is IBOC (in-band, on-channel) digital radio. Those of you who subscribe to the DX Audio Service will have heard this month's presentation of the "buzzing" noise generated on first-adjacent channels by the IBOC testing at New York City's WNEW (102.7).

Preserving spectrum for eventual IBOC use is a legitimate concern, no doubt. But we remain unconvinced that IBOC is the best digital solution for US radio. We're truly worried about the US moving away from the Eureka system that seems to be on the verge of becoming a global standard. It's bad enough that channel-spacing disparities make many digital receivers unusable in Europe and Asia for analog radio. It's even worse to think that the radio that works just fine in Niagara Falls, New York could be useless for hearing the signals of Niagara Falls, Ontario, and vice versa.

NERW's also not convinced that IBOC solves any real pressing problems for broadcasters and listeners. Audio quality on FM doesn't promise to be that much better than it already is, and there's no evidence to suggest that listeners want to spend a few hundred dollars on a new receiver just to hear the same 18 minutes of spots an hour that they can already hear with their old radio -- especially when that same money could be spent on a Sirius receiver (satellite digital radio), with better audio quality and no commercials.

Once again, it's the status quo protecting itself for the short term, with no ability to see the long-term picture. We're not surprised.

That's it for this week...see you next Friday with much more from the wide world of radio!

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