Thursday, January 3, 2008

Radio: You don’t want HD Radio’s Bilk-o in your foxhole.

You can’t make this stuff up.

How would you like it if one you believed to be a business partner did an about face and supported the very thing your industry is fighting against?

Memo to terrestrial radio: iBiquity and the HD Radio Alliance just double-crossed you.

The dynamic duo closed their dismal year by firing off a letter to the FCC on December 20 urging that if the merger between XM and Sirius satellite radio companies is approved – HD Radios must be included in all satellite receivers.

Riiiiight!
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That means when terrestrial radio promotes HD Radio it’ll be pushing satellite radio, too.

iBiquity’s management and legal team also managed to meet with some lower-level FCC staffers just before the Christmas break in an attempt to grease...er… plead their case.

Poor NAB boss Fumbles. He doesn’t even have juice to meet with the entry level types at the Commission. He’ll always be a mouse studying to be a rat.

Does it astound you as much as it does me that at the NAB convention last September –enemy numero uno was still XM and Sirius – and that proposed merger had to be stopped at all costs?
Unlike Fumbles’ NAB, which vehemently opposes the merger, iBiquity and the HD Radio Alliance - that purportedly serves terrestrial radio owners – evidently does not.

Should the merger be approved iBiquity wants to obstruct the company from any exclusive arrangements with suppliers, retailers, and car makers. They claim that not doing so would provide the merged company a major advantage over HD Radio.

Peter “Sgt. Bilk-o” Ferrara and his HD Radio Alliance troop already know that their product roll-out ought to be rolled-up and tossed away – but there’s too much money at stake for those in the deal to leave on the table even though HD Radio’s outcome is fated.

After stealing the stove – he’d come back for the smoke.

iBiquity argues in that a “combined XM-Sirius could be in a better position to hamper their ability to introduce HD Radio technology into the marketplace.”

Introduce?

Let me read to you a portion of a press release from HD Radio Alliance issued on April 10, 2006: “In response to a surge in consumer demand for HD Digital Radio™ receivers, three major retailers now plan to offer HD Digital Radios in their stores nationwide beginning this month and have announced sweeping marketing and education campaigns to support new customers…..”

Seventeen months later and you’re still introducing your product?

How many products has Steve Jobs announced during the same time frame?

I have to add include this line from that April ’06 press release – just to rub it in – where it described HD Radio as “…what promises to be the biggest trend in consumer entertainment since the advent of FM radio.”

So, let’s say that in iBiquity’s blue sky universe users could choose from both satellite and HD Radio.

No one will argue that when you can pick up and listen to a terrestrial radio station that the quality is close to and competitive with satellite radio. But have you ever listened to the sound of HD Radio side channels?

It’s somewhere between AM and present-day FM. That is, when you can receive them.

XM has exclusive deals with GM, Honda, and Nissan, and Audiovox’s Terk Electronics distribution, which also distributes Sirius satellite antennas.

Sirius has exclusives with Ford, BMW, and Mercedes Benz automakers, retail outlet Radio Shack, and Direct Electronics, which also distributes premium sound systems and vehicle security.

In response to the latest laughable HD Radio demand, XM and Sirius responded in a joint statement saying, “This is evident from the strong support our merger has received from a broad array of businesses and organizations. iBiquity’s own filing highlights satellite radio’s competition with HD radio,” and calling iBiquity’s latest scheme, “…nothing more than a self-interested attempt to use the regulatory process to promote HD radio’s market share in this highly competitive landscape.”

You know, I could’ve sworn that the HD Radio Alliance claimed that a number of retail locations – including the top retailer in America – sold HD Radios.

Bilk-o‘s not what one would call a details guy. He disregards facts. Here’s another one. Most dealerships that offer exclusivity to one system also sell after-market satellite radios of its competitor. A friend who’s a Honda dealer pushes XM and contractually required to do so. But the same dealership also sells after-market Sirius units for customers that prefer their offerings.
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I’m certain car dealers would find shelf space for HD Radios, too. That is, if anyone would buy ‘em.

Bilk-o can’t come to grips with the fact that more ahooga horns were sold for cars last year than HD Radios.

I'll give him credit for one thing. He's made iBiquity and HD Radio’s technical hi-jinks incessant radio industry blog fodder for the past year.

We'll pay very close attention to next week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas to witness the response HD Radio receives there.

In a world of silk purses, HD Radio is a sow’s ear.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Apparently Mr Gorman, you have some pretty hefty personal investments in either the XM and or Sirius platforms. It must make you extremely nervous then to know that the overwhelming population of media listeners listen to Radio for "Local Content" which XM and Sirius cannot provide. Why, I'm sure you already know that fact from your long tenure within the Radio Media World... In addition, being that I'm from Ohio, it seems that your long time broadcast background only seems to reach the sullied boarders of Cleveland while WMMS FM did had a Warm period of success during the 1980's. That said, I can see you're certainly qualified to cast your net of hatred toward HD Radio while your massive hoards of lock-step listeners and supporters try and remember just who the hell you are or were. Good luck with the book and your war against HD Radio Jeff... I mean John!

Paul Doherty said...

John, Terrestrial radio is not run by broadcasters. Decison making is based on quarterly reports. When broadcasters controlled radio it was very much of a business and successful with those who knew how to program and manage it that it attracted public companies, venture capital and the like. The problem comes from those owning radio today. They overpaid for properties and underwhelmed with their product. HD radio was another lame stunt to sell Wall Street and nothing more. One more thing. Programmers and sales departments did live and die by the quarter. We called it the Arbitron though any qualified marketer would tell you the only way to get a true picture of a market was to combine those four quarters. Stations that did it that way lived long and prospered.

JMack said...

HD Digital Radio in this country will have even less success than digital radio did in the U.K. It will be worse in the U.S. because of Wi-Fi, Sync and other platforms that can be listened to while being mobile.

I have heard HD radio programming. It is automated and disapointing. I did have Sirius and chose not to renew it. It fell short of expectations and its quality declined over the year I had it. They may have more selections but the rotations are just as bad as terrestrial. Case in point - the comedy channel. How many times can you hear the same joke? Like you I would like to see terrestrial radio taken back over by real broadcasters and given another chance. The answer is not having more stations. The answer is having better radio stations.

Ron said...

I am going to CES '08 next week. I will check out the HD Radio display and ask some loaded questions. I plan to video it and put it on You Tube, too.

My only hope is that I get to meet this Sgt. Bilko character face to face. I have many technical questions for him to answer.

PocketRadio said...

"Regarding the Technical Aspects of the SDARS Providers XM and Sirius"

"There are significant differences in certain technical aspects of the two SDARS systems as deployed by XM and Sirius. The systems as currently deployed are not interoperable. That is to say, an XM receiver cannot receive the Sirius signal and vice versa. Thus, as is true today, if the proposed merger of XM and Sirius were consummated, consumers would still need to purchase a new interoperable receiver in order to receive the signals of both providers. These differences in system operation, function, and structure make the design and implementation of a single unified and interoperable receiver both complex and expensive. In fact, both XM and Sirius have been working in a joint venture to develop an interoperable radio since 2000. At this time, no interoperable radios have been introduced into commercial production."

http://tinyurl.com/2kek8t

The fools at iBiquity and the HD Alliance may not even realize that requiring interoperable satrad receivers is technically impractical. Surely, they must realize that satrad's combined 2.5 billion in debt is due in 5 years.

Bomarsh810 said...

....the overwhelming population of media listeners listen to Radio for "Local Content"

Well if that's the case, why is the NAB so vehemently opposed to this merger?

The truth of the matter is that HD radio is the Betamax of radios. Those that can afford to pay the extra cash for one spend it on a medium that doesn’t include commercials and that my friend is the crux of the biscuit. The quality of the signal I receive has never been an issue here in the Detroit area. It’s the quality of the content that has been the problem. Why should I PAY big bucks to hear crystal clear commercials? Millions of listeners every year are coming to the same conclusion: My time is valuable. Why should I waste any of my precious time listening to marketing when I could be enjoying music or REAL free speech? Even the music itself on terrestrial radio is nothing more than marketing. Play it often enough and someone will learn to WANT to hear it (witness Britney Spears and The Smashing Pumpkins).

And as far as “Local Content” is concerned, the only “Local Content” I care to hear on the radio is the traffic report and XM has that covered. Sports? ESPN, ESPNRADIO, The Sporting News. For really local news and information I have my REAL local newspapers. Commercial radio and television are no longer sources of information; they have become so concerned with marketing that it influences the information and how it’s presented, and what actually gets reported. It’s no more reliable now than the writing on the bathroom walls.

I am absolutely in the minority of listeners at this time, but not for long. When all is said and done, terrestrial radio as we know it is doomed. It isn’t even in the competition. The real competition is between satellite radio and audio playing devices like MP3 players which most new vehicles now have an input jack for built right into the radio. I can now carry over 600 albums in a portable device that fits into the palm my hand that I can plug into my car stereo OR a set of head phones.

Audio Frequency Marketing can kiss me “where the sun don’t shine”. The future of terrestrial radio? One word; “irrelevant”, in analog or high definition.

PocketRadio said...

"No HD for Ford 2009"

"Kind of a downer to close out the year, and a possible warning for the future... a family member works in Detroit on auto designs for future years, and the audio systems that go in them. During a recent holiday chat, he informed me that he was just about to wrap up the work for Ford 2009 models. 'So they have HD tuners, right?' I asked. Well, no they don't he responded. They are loaded and ready for Sirius radio, THX sound as an option, many other lovely audio treats, but unless requested custom by the buyer, HD will not be included in the 2009 audio systems."

"I find this bit of news to be very very troubling. It also adds to my growing fears that while it 'seemed like a good idea at the time' spending $250,000 to upgrade our signal to HD was a HUGE waste of time and money. Sure, we did some much needed upgrading of our transmitter site, beefed up the infrastructure and wiring, but I think we could have done it for less than a 1/4 mil."

"It would be less than kind to suggest that we're being taken for a ride on this, but with virtually no interest from consumers and no support from industry leaders, it sure feels that way."

H(D)appy New Year
Joe Vincenza
WUWF Public Media, Pensacola

http://lists.radiolists.net/pipermail/broadcast/2007-December/065882.html

Ellis said...

Wait until Wall Street gets the word that all the expensive upgrades for HD radio made by the radio industry were in vain. What do you think that will do to the stock price.

Fire sale here we come!

paul vincent zecchino said...

Does TeamBLOC remind you of a two year old brat who demands all admire his lovely outdoor 'find', one which leaves a trail when scraped from shoe to carpet?

When will TeamBLOC stop? Haven't they had enough rejection? Do they seek listener irritation? Many listeners now realize HD jams their favorite stations. Or do HD cheerleaders still insist we not 'listen to out of town stations'?

What about out of town websites?

Who besides 'carny shills' would drown analog competitors with digital jamming?

Consumers reject HD. Why does TeamBLOC mislead yet again, implying HD will be included in XM/Sirius receivers? Absurd.

Clear Channel claims they'll concentrate on traffic texting with HD. Is this a reason for us squander money on problematic HD sets?

Why does FCC allow BigRadio to jam for the dubious purpose to delivering stale traffic reports to those who will never listen?

HD is over. Yet TeamBLOC insists.

Where's the pressure coming from? Isn't this command-economy 'you must go HD or else' approach what nixed the old soviet union?

In addition HD's ubiquitous jamming, listeners haven't missed for a minute TeamBLOC's reflexively insulting anyone who questions fatally flawed HD.

Honest salesmen who pitch good products welcome questions and objections. TeamBLOC dismisses questions and insults those who ask them.

Paul Vincent Zecchino
Manasota Key, Florida
03 January, 2008

Paul Vincent Zecchino
Manasota Key, Florida
03 January, 2008

iBlocksux said...

I gotta say, that this was your best one yet. I laughed out loud when I read "Bilk-o can’t come to grips with the fact that more ahooga horns were sold for cars last year than HD Radios." And of course part of the reason I laughed so hard was that it is true. IBOC was absolutely the worst thing terrestrial radio could have done to itself at this point, talk about shooting yourself in the foot. If it is allowed to continue it will kill radio completely, it creates interference on both bands, on AM the sidebands are cutting swaths right through the bands for a thousand miles or more ruining reception of many adjacent stations for millions. It severely cuts the range for FM and does not really improve the sound at all and the receivers cost a lot and deliver little, sounds like a winner to me.

paul vincent zecchino said...

PS -

Doesn't the first post so well typify TeamBLOC's reflexive ad hominem style? Attack all who criticize HD's blatant failings, with hackneyed, overblown 90s jargon - 'hatred' a prime example.

'Lock-step listeners'? Do tell? Wasn't it TeamBLOC that coerced reluctant engineers to march in lockstep with their shrieking turkey - 'or else'?

HD shill parrots never fooled us. Why do they try to fool themselves?

Every scheme carries the seeds of its own destruction. Years ago, learned folk counseled those who monkeyed around with digital radio, don't jam analog.

They ignored that counsel and jammed. Bills are coming due, so now TeamBLOC blames all but itself for greedy-gut stupidity.

The Story of HD's abysmal failure isn't pretty, but it's predictable. It should be required reading for all who care about protecting public resources from predators.

Paul Vincent Zecchino
Manasota Key, Florida
03 January, 2008

Anyone who dares point out HD's myriad obvious flaws is a 'hater' who has a 'hatred of HD radio'.

GerryB said...

Indeed, attack the man when the argument is sound. How unfortunate that almost all presentations of the whole truth about HD are met with an attack upon the messenger. The sideband noise, the sales failure, the limited range, the duplicity on Ibiquity's part with their engineering "studies", all true, are not remedied. I live out here where "local" radio could be 60 miles away. Most of the "local" radio is nothing more than syndicated programming during the morning drive. Much of that would not, remotely, come with a digital signal. Boring, from somewhere else, and now self-interfering, radio has gone to the hands of the devil.
There's an immorality about HD radio that far exceeds any redeeming features it may have once planned to offer. It takes from its neighbor with noise. It kills signal quality, and it worships the false idol of money. It has announced intentions to force itself upon another, unwelcome, breaking faith with the NAB. HD leads a lie about what it will do.
No, attacking the man is not the way to counter the truth about HD radio. The wise would address the truth, correct the problems, speak softly of their errors and misjudgments, and move forward with something that a listener would want to have. That would be the salvation of HD.

PocketRadio said...

Here's the new empty marketing campaign that throws "analog under the bus":

"GSD&M Preps $200 Mil.+ HD Radio Push"

"GSD&M has already begun producing work. The ads feature the voice of cartoon character SpongeBob (actor Tom Kenny) as a conventional car radio calling its owner and leaving messages as if it's a jilted lover. "You know, I could totally pick up those new extra HD stations if I hit the gym," the radio says in desperation. "Is that what you're into now? Huh? Call me!"

http://www.adweek.com/aw/national/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003691980

Brilliant - that will "push" consumers into Best Buy to purchase those empty HD radios!

Anonymous said...

Excuse me Gerryb and all the other Radio "Homers" that want HD to fail, listen up.... No one was attacking Mr Gorman in the first post. The fact reamins, however, that Mr Gorman did attack Peter in his rant about the progress of HD domestically. Honestly, this debate reminds me of "Partisanship in Washington". Just get over the fact that HD is here to stay.

HD allows for Radio to compete with other media providers as technology expands their ability to provide content in new and exciting ways.

finally, for all those on this blog that have stooped to calling names and being child-like about HD Radio, may I remind you that as of 1/7/08 there are 1500+ HD radio stations with a total of 2000+ HD licenses in place with many, many more coming. Out of the 13,500 radio stations domestically I'd say that these numbers answer the question of whether or not HD Radio is here to stay...

And please... get over youselves..

Anonymous said...

Excuse me Gerryb and all the other Radio "Homers" that want HD to fail, listen up.... No one was attacking Mr Gorman in the first post. The fact remains, however, that Mr Gorman did attack Peter in his rant about the progress of HD domestically. Honestly, this debate reminds me of "Partisanship in Washington". Just get over the fact that HD is here to stay.

HD allows for Radio to compete with other media providers as technology expands their ability to provide content in new and exciting ways.

finally, for all those on this blog that have stooped to calling names and being child-like about HD Radio, may I remind you that as of 1/7/08 there are 1500+ HD radio stations with a total of 2000+ HD licenses in place with many, many more coming. Out of the 13,500 radio stations domestically I'd say that these numbers answer the question of whether or not HD Radio is here to stay...

And please... get over youselves..

PocketRadio said...

"finally, for all those on this blog that have stooped to calling names and being child-like about HD Radio, may I remind you that as of 1/7/08 there are 1500+ HD radio stations with a total of 2000+ HD licenses in place with many, many more coming. Out of the 13,500 radio stations domestically I'd say that these numbers answer the question of whether or not HD Radio is here to stay... And please... get over youselves.."

"Have 200 HD Radio stations gone missing?"

"The HD Radio camp is advertising that there are currently over 1,500 radio stations now broadcasting in HD (from its website, to press releases as well as in various other promotions)... but yet only 1,300 have filed with the FCC."

http://www.orbitcast.com/archives/have-200-hd-radio-stations-gone-missing.html

"Digital Audio Broadcasting Systems and Their Impact on the Terrestrial Radio Broadcast Service"

15. We will not establish a deadline for radio stations to convert to digital broadcasting. Stations may decide if, and when, they will provide digital service to the public. Several reasons support this decision. First, unlike television licensees, radio stations are under no statutory mandate to convert to a digital format. Second, a hard deadline is unnecessary given that DAB uses an in-band technology that does not require the allocation of additional spectrum. Thus, the spectrum reclamation needs that exist for DTV do not exist here. Moreover, there is no evidence in the record that marketplace forces cannot propel the DAB conversion forward, and effective markets tend to provide better solutions than regulatory schemes.

16. iBiquity argues that in the early stages of the transition, the Commission should favor and protect existing analog signals. It states that this could be accomplished by limiting the power level and bandwidth occupancy of the digital carriers in the hybrid mode. At some point in the future, when the Commission determines there is sufficient market penetration of digital receivers, iBiquity asserts that the public interest will be best served by reversing this presumption to favor digital operations. At that time, broadcasters will no longer need to protect analog operations by limiting the digital signal and stations should have the option to implement all-digital broadcasts. We decline to adopt iBiquity's presumption policy because it is too early in the DAB conversion process for us to consider such a mechanism. We find that such a policy, if adopted now, may have unknown and unintended consequences for a new technology that has yet to be accepted by the public or widely adopted by the broadcast industry.

http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-IMPACT/2007/August/Day-15/i15922.htm

Oh, you spoke too soon!

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