HD Radio power increase has been complaint free

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Back when the FCC gave the OK for FM stations to boost power for their HD Radio digital channels the FCC also set up special procedures for interference complaints so it could act quickly on them. That hasn’t exactly been consuming a lot of staff time at the agency.


“We’re still waiting for our first complaint,” Peter Doyle, Chief, Audio Division, Media Bureau at the FCC said at last week’s 2010 Radio Show.

Wait a minute, you may say, what about the complaint from KATY-FM Riverside-San Bernardino regarding interference from the HD Radio operations of KRTH-FM Los Angeles? Doyle is well aware of that, but he noted that complaint did not involve the power increase, but rather a claim of interference from a superpower Class B station under the original power levels for HD Radio.

To date, Doyle told the gathering, about 150 FM stations had availed themselves of the FCC’s procedures to boost their HD Radio power output.

One audience member wanted to know whether any of the panelists could project the date when US radio stations will turn off their analog signals and go 100% digital. “It should be economics based. At some point it will not be economic to continue to broadcast in  analog,” answered Glynn Walden, CBS Radio Sr. VP/Engineering. But he couldn’t project when that day might come.

In an earlier session on finance issues Michael Bogdan of Atalaya Capital Management warned that “if radio doesn’t go digital you will get smaller and smaller.” He called for broadcasters to work with the FCC to mandate a switch to 100% digital. “Some stations will cease to exist, but I think as an industry you become a lot stronger,” he said.

RBR-TVBR observation: You can argue over whether to mandate a date for turning off analog radio or let the market decide. Either way, though, it’s going to require a lot more HD Radio receivers in consumer hands before that even become a possibility.