Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Radio: HD Radio's Booble and Bilk-o crank it up!
That horse has been beaten dead. You know it and I know it.
HD Radio. If you bought into it, forget it. You’ve been swindled. You were robbed. It was one of the biggest, most expensive con jobs in radio history. Take solace in knowing that you were far from the only victim in this fraud.
HD Radio - a waste of time, money, engineering, on-air time….need I continue?
Let’s switch subjects for a moment.
Have you bought your Blu-ray DVD player yet? Probably not.
Blu-ray DVDs feature high definition-quality digital video and can only be played on Blue-ray DVD players.
A Harris Interactive Poll showed that only 9 percent of respondents (87 percent of whom own a DVD player) planned on buying a Blu-ray player in 2009.
A study by the NPD Group on Blu-ray found that most respondents were satisfied with their current DVD player and had no plans to upgrade.
These studies were conducted prior to gas jumping over $4/gallon.
An editorial in this week’s Home Media Magazine admitted, “DVD is still the lifeblood of home entertainment, and most likely it will be for years to come.”
Then there’s this piece from Tuesday’s New York Times. Briefly, it explicates the growing pains of High Definition Television “side channels” and how a couple of programming service providers had already gone under due to those pesky financial limitations.
Translation: There was no money in it.
Just because you can have a HD TV side channels doesn’t mean they’ll do anything positive for your bottom line.
This brings us to the scam of all scams – the misleadingly named HD Radio, which is not high definition – and offers side channels of lesser-quality fidelity than an unprocessed analog FM.
Think about it. Most of those surveyed do not plan to upgrade their DVD player and the television industry hasn’t figured out how to monetize their side channels.
And we're lead to believe there is a demand for this no-thing called HD Radio?
In this parallel universe where wrong is the new right, the Capo di tutti capi of HD Radio developer iBiquity is Bob Struble or “Booble” as those he believes are his best friends call him behind his back. His supporting dumbbell is Peter “Sgt. Bilk-o” Ferrara. Credit them for knowing everyone’s price of protection to keep their HD Radio scheme alive.
I’m not saying Booble and Bilk-o are in the same league as gangsters, extortionists, cash-skimmers, witness and embezzlers. I am saying that anyone that fell for the HD Radio hype was robbed. Of course they’ll deny that. Will they settle for voluntarily robbed?
They’ll tell you that households will give up their gas budget to buy an HD Radio for all its wonderful and diverse choices.
They’ll also tell you that as consumers are forced to upgrade to High Definition television sets they’ll also upgrade their radio audio, too. Yeah, right.
They’ll even tell you that they would like me to perform an impossible act.
Face facts. There are too many terrestrial radio stations.
Some will go dark over the next 12 to 18 months.
Boobles’ latest scheme was to con a few pols and pals into buying into his proposal that, should the XM-Sirius merger get FCC approval, there would be a covenant for all manufacturers to make units AM/FM/HD Radio compatible.
Then Pioneer, one of the manufacturers of satellite radio units shot it down. They contend that that “the iBiquity conditions would limit the breadth of radio product offerings to consumers, limit which radio component supplier’s products be designed into radio, have the effect of decreasing AM/FM tuning performance, unnecessarily increase costs to consumers uninterested in HD Radio, and interfere with the useful and healthy free-market mechanisms extant in radio electronics purchases.”
Translation: It’s a dumb-as-they-come proposition.
Other manufacturers didn't even bother to respond.
It gets better. Steve Jobs announced his latest 3G iPhone. HD Radio not included. Reason? The chip for HD Radio is too large to fit in the new model iPhone.
Sorry, HD. You’re technologically inferior.
For that matter, the new iPhone has no AM/FM either. I mean…why would you?
Jobs will eventually add radio to the iPhone. Free standing Internet radio.
The HD Digital Radio Alliance now comes clean on problems with their product.
They’re conceding that HD Radio owners are upset with its antenna, which has to be manually moved around like an old fashioned rabbit ears antenna to pull in HD radio channels – and that the side channels frequently drop out. External antenna systems do little to improve the problem.
What’s their solution? Crank it up, of course.
They’re asking the FCC to allow HD radio stations to increase their power tenfold. Chances are Chairman Boy Kevin Martin will rubber stamp his approval. His bed’s too big without them.
To increase power will require radio stations to squander more contingency dollars for the privilege of purchasing new transmitters and antennas to accommodate the power increase for radio stations that no one is listening to or ever will on that digital frequency.
And just like these stations’ original conversion to digital – it’s strictly voluntary – except for the exorbitant licensing fees paid to iBiquity for the permission of broadcasting digitally on their faulty technology.
Though most chains are waist – or is it waste – deep in the muddled HD Radio scam, CBS Radio in its new alliance with AOL’s Internet radio portal found may have found their out.
Though streaming is still not profitable Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone has seen the future and knows it will be.
“The merger of CBS Radio and AOL Radio stations into one asset has instantly doubled our daily audience of listeners, and advertisers are signing up every day, clearly recognizing the benefits of being able to target such a highly interactive group of listeners,” says CBS Radio head Dan Mason. “Our stations are gaining access to millions of impressions by being integrated into content throughout AOL’s site. Promotion like that, you can’t put a price on.”
And not a word was said about HD Radio. Things to come?
Its Father’s Day this Sunday. Did you expect the HD Radio Alliance to ensure the shelves are stocked with a variety of HD Radios at all the retail outlets they claim their product is sold in?
I did my monthly walk-through. I’ve been doing this once a month for the past year. Wal-Mart? Best Buy? Radio Shack? Costco? – Nothing!
That HD Radio delivery guy is still AWOL?
Even worse. Three of the four stores even had Blue-ray DVD players in stock.
Then I got this press release about the National Association of Broadcasters announcing their HD Multicast Award, which will be held at their annual convention in Austin. The award is given based on an HD Radio station that – in their words - is “at the forefront of creating unique, innovative or groundbreaking programming.”
My question. If an HD Radio station is programming unique, innovative or groundbreaking programming but no one hears it – did it really make a sound?