Cost cut for HD Radio


Four electronics manufacturers announced yesterday at the NAB Convention in Las Vegas that they have introduced "embedded exporter" technology to reduce the cost of a key component for HD Radio. NAB was promoting the announcement because the organization has invested over a million bucks in the project to reduce HD Radio implementation for smaller stations and NAB member stations will therefore receive a discount from the manufacturers.

Nautel, Harris, Continental and BE are all exhibiting embedded exporters at NAB in Las Vegas this week. The improved technology doesn’t require the dedicated network needed by previous exporters, so there is less cost for the device and for the related investment to begin operating in HD.

Commonwealth Broadcasting CEO Steve Newberry, Vice Chair of the NAB Radio Board, began pushing the idea a few years ago to reduce the cost for small stations to join the move to HD Radio. He estimated that whereas a very bare-bones HD Radio conversion might have cost around 50K in the past, the embedded exporter technology has reduced that to around 40K.

"This is huge news in the effort to deliver HD Radio," said Beasley Broadcasting Group EVP/CFO Caroline Beasley, who chairs the NAB HD Radio Technology Advancement Task Force.

Although the embedded exporter technology reduces the basic cost of the exporter, which is a costly HD Radio component, the manufacturers say it also makes possible improvements for all stations, so they will be offering units ranging from basic models to those with lots of options available for large station operations.

At the announcement press conference in Las Vegas, iBiquity Digital Corp. President Bob Struble touted other recent successes for HD Radio. He said there are now some 60 models of HD Radio receivers on the market, up from only 20 a year ago, and that they are beginning to be offered by automobile manufacturers. "Portable HD Radio receivers are coming," he declared.