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RBR Observation:
More on numbering HD Radio

We've been gratified at the feedback we're getting from readers on how HD Radio should be numbered - - our proposal (10/4//05 RBR #194), the Cox Radio proposal or some other option.

While one reader suggested that no numbering system was needed at all and that HD multicast channels should be promoted by name, much like cable TV networks, that's really not going to be possible anytime soon. That would require HD receivers to have some sort of mini-browser. Maybe a good idea for the distant future, but for the roll-out of HD some sort of channel numbering system will be essential, just as it still is for cable TV. If we want to watch TNT down here in Bradenton, Florida, we have to know to go to channel 33. So, if you name an HD programming service "The Big Whammer-Jammer," you're still going to have to put some sort of channel number on your billboards to tell potential listeners how to find it.

We've run the number progression on Cox Radio's HD Radio numbering proposal (9/30/05 RBR #192), which would extend the current FM numbering system by following 107.9 with 108.1 and so on. With a single HD multicast channel in addition to the main programming channel, the numbers go up to 127.9. Once analog broadcasting ceases and each licensee has up to eight total HD channels, the numbers run from 88.1 through 247.9. See the complete list below. That sounds like a pretty confusing array of numbers to us, while retaining the annoying "point-whatever" system that so many FM stations were trying to get away from for branding purposes until digital tuners came along and forced them back from a trend to use whole numbers. Also, Cox has so far said nothing about how it would propose to number AM HD channels.

For the same reason of branding difficulty, we think it's a bad idea to try to market eight stations with dissimilar formats as 103.5 HD-1 through HD-8. Too much of a jumble of numbers, letters and that pesky "point." Consumer confusion is going to be incredible if 103.5 HD-1, HD-2 & HD-3 are variations on CHR, HD-4 is national sports, HD-5 is local sports, HD-6 is weather, HD-7 is Classical and HD-8 is time-brokered foreign language - - all using some sort of 103.5 identification.

There are also arguments that radio companies have too much brand identity value tied up in their current frequencies to risk making a change. If that were true, no one would be willing to change frequencies for a power upgrade. Case closed.

The best suggestion we've heard so far is that the radio industry needs to band together and hire branding experts to research the HD Radio numbering question. We don't know that our numbering plan is the right answer, but it is a step in the right direction. More creative thinking is needed, along with some professional research, to make sure radio gets this right. We're going to be stuck with the outcome for many, many decades to come.

What's your idea? We're still looking for feedback at [email protected]

Cox Radio's HD Radio Channel Proposal

Analog

Frequency*

HD-2

HD-3

HD-4

HD-5

HD-6

HD-7

HD-8

88.1

108.1

128.1

148.1

168.1

188.1

208.1

228.1

88.3

108.3

128.3

148.3

168.3

188.3

208.3

228.3

88.5

108.5

128.5

148.5

168.5

188.5

208.5

228.5

88.7

108.7

128.7

148.7

168.7

188.7

208.7

228.7

88.9

108.9

128.9

148.9

168.9

188.9

208.9

228.9

89.1

109.1

129.1

149.1

169.1

189.1

209.1

229.1

89.3

109.3

129.3

149.3

169.3

189.3

209.3

229.3

89.5

109.5

129.5

149.5

169.5

189.5

209.5

229.5

89.7

109.7

129.7

149.7

169.7

189.7

209.7

229.7

89.9

109.9

129.9

149.9

169.9

189.9

209.9

229.9

90.1

110.1

130.1

150.1

170.1

190.1

210.1

230.1

90.3

110.3

130.3

150.3

170.3

190.3

210.3

230.3

90.5

110.5

130.5

150.5

170.5

190.5

210.5

230.5

90.7

110.7

130.7

150.7

170.7

190.7

210.7

230.7

90.9

110.9

130.9

150.9

170.9

190.9

210.9

230.9

91.1

111.1

131.1

151.1

171.1

191.1

211.1

231.1

91.3

111.3

131.3

151.3

171.3

191.3

211.3

231.3

91.5

111.5

131.5

151.5

171.5

191.5

211.5

231.5

91.7

111.7

131.7

151.7

171.7

191.7

211.7

231.7

91.9

111.9

131.9

151.9

171.9

191.9

211.9

231.9

92.1

112.1

132.1

152.1

172.1

192.1

212.1

232.1

92.3

112.3

132.3

152.3

172.3

192.3

212.3

232.3

92.5

112.5

132.5

152.5

172.5

192.5

212.5

232.5

92.7

112.7

132.7

152.7

172.7

192.7

212.7

232.7

92.9

112.9

132.9

152.9

172.9

192.9

212.9

232.9

93.1

113.1

133.1

153.1

173.1

193.1

213.1

233.1

93.3

113.3

133.3

153.3

173.3

193.3

213.3

233.3

93.5

113.5

133.5

153.5

173.5

193.5

213.5

233.5

93.7

113.7

133.7

153.7

173.7

193.7

213.7

233.7

93.9

113.9

133.9

153.9

173.9

193.9

213.9

233.9

94.1

114.1

134.1

154.1

174.1

194.1

214.1

234.1

94.3

114.3

134.3

154.3

174.3

194.3

214.3

234.3

94.5

114.5

134.5

154.5

174.5

194.5

214.5

234.5

94.7

114.7

134.7

154.7

174.7

194.7

214.7

234.7

94.9

114.9

134.9

154.9

174.9

194.9

214.9

234.9

95.1

115.1

135.1

155.1

175.1

195.1

215.1

235.1

95.3

115.3

135.3

155.3

175.3

195.3

215.3

235.3

95.5

115.5

135.5

155.5

175.5

195.5

215.5

235.5

95.7

115.7

135.7

155.7

175.7

195.7

215.7

235.7

95.9

115.9

135.9

155.9

175.9

195.9

215.9

235.9

96.1

116.1

136.1

156.1

176.1

196.1

216.1

236.1

96.3

116.3

136.3

156.3

176.3

196.3

216.3

236.3

96.5

116.5

136.5

156.5

176.5

196.5

216.5

236.5

96.7

116.7

136.7

156.7

176.7

196.7

216.7

236.7

96.9

116.9

136.9

156.9

176.9

196.9

216.9

236.9

97.1

117.1

137.1

157.1

177.1

197.1

217.1

237.1

97.3

117.3

137.3

157.3

177.3

197.3

217.3

237.3

97.5

117.5

137.5

157.5

177.5

197.5

217.5

237.5

97.7

117.7

137.7

157.7

177.7

197.7

217.7

237.7

97.9

117.9

137.9

157.9

177.9

197.9

217.9

237.9

98.1

118.1

138.1

158.1

178.1

198.1

218.1

238.1

98.3

118.3

138.3

158.3

178.3

198.3

218.3

238.3

98.5

118.5

138.5

158.5

178.5

198.5

218.5

238.5

98.7

118.7

138.7

158.7

178.7

198.7

218.7

238.7

98.9

118.9

138.9

158.9

178.9

198.9

218.9

238.9

99.1

119.1

139.1

159.1

179.1

199.1

219.1

239.1

99.3

119.3

139.3

159.3

179.3

199.3

219.3

239.3

99.5

119.5

139.5

159.5

179.5

199.5

219.5

239.5

99.7

119.7

139.7

159.7

179.7

199.7

219.7

239.7

99.9

119.9

139.9

159.9

179.9

199.9

219.9

239.9

100.1

120.1

140.1

160.1

180.1

200.1

220.1

240.1

100.3

120.3

140.3

160.3

180.3

200.3

220.3

240.3

100.5

120.5

140.5

160.5

180.5

200.5

220.5

240.5

100.7

120.7

140.7

160.7

180.7

200.7

220.7

240.7

100.9

120.9

140.9

160.9

180.9

200.9

220.9

240.9

101.1

121.1

141.1

161.1

181.1

201.1

221.1

241.1

101.3

121.3

141.3

161.3

181.3

201.3

221.3

241.3

101.5

121.5

141.5

161.5

181.5

201.5

221.5

241.5

101.7

121.7

141.7

161.7

181.7

201.7

221.7

241.7

101.9

121.9

141.9

161.9

181.9

201.9

221.9

241.9

102.1

122.1

142.1

162.1

182.1

202.1

222.1

242.1

102.3

122.3

142.3

162.3

182.3

202.3

222.3

242.3

102.5

122.5

142.5

162.5

182.5

202.5

222.5

242.5

102.7

122.7

142.7

162.7

182.7

202.7

222.7

242.7

102.9

122.9

142.9

162.9

182.9

202.9

222.9

242.9

103.1

123.1

143.1

163.1

183.1

203.1

223.1

243.1

103.3

123.3

143.3

163.3

183.3

203.3

223.3

243.3

103.5

123.5

143.5

163.5

183.5

203.5

223.5

243.5

103.7

123.7

143.7

163.7

183.7

203.7

223.7

243.7

103.9

123.9

143.9

163.9

183.9

203.9

223.9

243.9

104.1

124.1

144.1

164.1

184.1

204.1

224.1

244.1

104.3

124.3

144.3

164.3

184.3

204.3

224.3

244.3

104.5

124.5

144.5

164.5

184.5

204.5

224.5

244.5

104.7

124.7

144.7

164.7

184.7

204.7

224.7

244.7

104.9

124.9

144.9

164.9

184.9

204.9

224.9

244.9

105.1

125.1

145.1

165.1

185.1

205.1

225.1

245.1

105.3

125.3

145.3

165.3

185.3

205.3

225.3

245.3

105.5

125.5

145.5

165.5

185.5

205.5

225.5

245.5

105.7

125.7

145.7

165.7

185.7

205.7

225.7

245.7

105.9

125.9

145.9

165.9

185.9

205.9

225.9

245.9

106.1

126.1

146.1

166.1

186.1

206.1

226.1

246.1

106.3

126.3

146.3

166.3

186.3

206.3

226.3

246.3

106.5

126.5

146.5

166.5

186.5

206.5

226.5

246.5

106.7

126.7

146.7

166.7

186.7

206.7

226.7

246.7

106.9

126.9

146.9

166.9

186.9

206.9

226.9

246.9

107.1

127.1

147.1

167.1

187.1

207.1

227.1

247.1

107.3

127.3

147.3

167.3

187.3

207.3

227.3

247.3

107.5

127.5

147.5

167.5

187.5

207.5

227.5

247.5

107.7

127.7

147.7

167.7

187.7

207.7

227.7

247.7

107.9

127.9

147.9

167.9

187.9

207.9

227.9

247.9

*HD-1 is the same as the analog frequency number

Note: Cox ignores the little used 87.9 mHz frequency, which the FCC regards as the beginning of the FM band.





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