IBOC di notte. Fine della radio AM in USA?

La FCC ha approvato l’uso di segnali IBOC HD Radio ibridi anche nel night time


da Radio Passioni

La radio digitale In Band a tecnologia Ibiquity è ufficialmente adottata dagli Stati Uniti, che ancora non si sono espressi sull’obbligatorietà del passaggio al digitale (anzi, viene esplicitamente detto che la qualità dell’analogico e del digitale devono essere equiparabili). In soldoni sono passati due concetti: per l’FM, la possibilità di diffondere una molteplicità di programmi, eventualmente affitando la banda digitale a terzi. E’ anche passato senza nessua obiezione la possibilità di trasmettere in digitale su onde medie anche dopo il tramonto. Dire che cosa succederà adesso è, nonostante tutto, abbastanza difficile. Una buona parte dei DXer che partecipano ai gruppi di discussione da cui sto estraendo queste considerazioni, ritiene che presto le onde medie saranno talmente piene di rumori laterali digitali da rendere impossibile non solo la ricezione di stazioni distanti, ma l’ascolto delle locali in generale. Non solo: le interferenze saranno un boomerang anche per le stazioni digitali che subiranno i rumori nella stessa misura, e vedranno ridursi i bacini di copertura del digitale. Per alcuni questo implicherà una proliferazione di processi e cause. In questo senso diverse sono le voci ottimiste: la decisione dell’FCC, alla prova dei fatti, risulterà azzardata e la Commissione dovrà tornare sui suoi passi. Il solito Scott Fybush è sicuramente tra i più ottimisti, perché si dice convinto che il digitale interessa soprattutto agli operatori di stazioni FM e che sulle onde medie non prenderà mai veramente piede. Curiosamente, emergono anche le prime dietrologie. C’è per esempio chi ipotizza che la RIAA, l’associazione delle case discografiche, abbia chiesto l’aumento delle fee che le radio su Internet devono versare agli autori delle canzoni trasmesse proprio perché sapevano che la FCC avrebbe approvato queste nuove regole e che il caos derivante dalla presenza mista di radio analogiche e digitali avrebbe provocato una generale disaffezione nei confronti del mezzo radiofonico. Semplice paranoia? Staremo a vedere.
E per noi europei? In teoria il rumore potrebbe propagarsi anche qui, anche se al massimo solo un ricevitore molto sensibile e una buona antenna (cioè noi DXer) se ne accorgeranno nell’eventualità.
Ecco i pareri più articolati e interessanti che stanno arrivando dall’altro lato dell’oceano:

(Brian Leyton)
While this may not affect that many stations around the country, it sure does affect those of us in metropolitan areas. In my case, my superlocal neighbor at 710 is running IBOC daytime, and I expect that they will do the same at night now that it’s approved. So I can kiss goodbye at least 30khz of spectrum on either side of them, as well as another 20-30khz on either side of the first harmonic.
Not to mention all of the other locals. 570, 790, 980, 1020, 1070, 1100. Did I miss anyone?
I have a feeling though, that we haven’t heard the end of this yet. The hash skipping in from distant stations is going to kill many stations in their own local areas. The analog stations skipping in on adjacents, as well as selective fading is going to destroy the digital coverage at night anyhow. I’ll be surprised to see digital coverage of more than 5-10 miles at night.
Let the lawsuits begin!

(Neil Kazaross)
Thanks for your thougtful insights as always, but unless I am missreading something, it appears that night AM IBOC will now be allowed.
Perhaps I missunderstand your opinion here, but all it will take is 20 or so full time powerhouse IBOCers to make a huge mess out of this hobby for those of us in the center of the USA or for those of us on the coasts who want to try to log domestics.
Those of us living in N.E. or Maritimes, or the Pac N.W. should still be able to use directive antennas aimed away from the states and won’t have anything near the major hindrence I will have here near Chicago/Milwaukee if just a few stations keep IBOC on 24 hours.
We can expect to gradually lose more and more frequencies to IBOC at night, until the broadcasters finally realize what a useless mess they’ve created.
73 KAZ guessing he’ll bowl a little more, shoot a little more pool, and watch more TV at night!

(Bob Young)
I sent this to the FCC General complaint address: fccinfo (at) fcc (dot) gov.
Your decision today to allow nighttime IBOC was an ill informed and bad decision. I live near Boston, during late afternoon when skywave starts WBZ 1030 interferes from 1010-1050, totally obliterating 1020 and 1040. what is going to happen at night when KDKA starts IBOC and their IBOC noise collides somewhere near NYC? Repeat this ad nauseum across the country and you are going to have people deserting AM radio in droves. The only people I know that even know about this abomination at this point are DXer’s who are rightly angered and concerned. You can think of us as being canaries in the coal mine. Shame on you, IBOC is very questionable on FM radio as it’s range is about 5 miles with an outside antenna and is totally useless and is harmul inteference on AM. You have been sold a bunch of malarkey and fell for it. Whether you realize it or not many many people use skywave at night without realizing it, skywave will now be useless which is AM radios best feature and thousands of small stations will go out of business. Yes this was a historic decision, it will go down in history as the new coke of radio. I hope this decision is reversed before the AM bands are completely
deserted, Thank you.

(Michael Richard)
I feel bad for you Brian. In the major metros it’s gonna suck. But then again in the major metros the hash will lead to stations killing or out-hashing each other. Like you said, let the lawsuits begin 🙂 Mark my words….things will get ugly and it will only take a few days — or nights of this to see what it’s really going to be like and I think the interference will just be too much. There’s gonna be a lot of angry words – and they’ll be from listeners and station owners…not just DXers like us. Even with all of those there’s still lots of space to DX and ways to use loops and things like that (just turning the radio slightly) that can increase nulls. Hell we have plenty of folks on our list that can amazingly sit there and DX a LOCAL channel and actually null a local. So I’m sure they’ll be able to null the noise too. I don’t think it’s as bad as we’re perceiving it for us DXers. And honestly…the FCC just gave them enough rope. They’ll hang themselves now. For FM, it’s a good thing. It works. For AM, I’m sorry but it just doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere. Nobody cares. I don’t see stations RUSHING to get IBOC equipment installed just like I don’t see consumers rushing out to get IBOC radios to listen to sports talk or Sean Hannity or Rush in clear digital quality. It supposedly makes AM sound like FM. Well COOL! Let’s have some MUSIC then! 🙂

(Scott Fybush)
Now that the FCC has done its thing today, I fully expect the DX list to get very full, very fast, of more of the same doom-and-gloom posts that we’ve been seeing in earnest for the last few weeks, predicting the death of the DX hobby with what sometimes seems (to my eyes at least)
like an unseemly glee.
My two cents amidst the noise, if I may:
I watched the FCC hearing this morning. The commissioners spent almost no time talking about the AM nighttime authority for IBOC. Their interest is in FM HD multicasting, and particularly in how that affects their pet issues – programming diversity, sponsorship identification, political advertising, obscenity, etc.
I spend a lot of time traveling the country, visiting radio stations large and small and talking to radio people, from small station owners all the way up to the engineering VPs at the big groups. Here’s what I’m hearing: multicasting – *FM HD* multicasting, which is the only kind there is – is where all the action is. The original idea that “improved” digital audio would be the big selling point for HD Radio has fallen largely by the wayside.
For AM HD, that “improved” audio was the only selling point, and without it, converting more stations to IBOC will be a tough sell. Just because 24-hour operation is now legally possible does NOT – I can’t emphasize this enough – does NOT mean that we’ll suddenly go from the current couple of hundred AMs with HD to thousands of AM HD stations, overnight, or probably ever.
Based on what I’m hearing and seeing in my travels, I don’t think the lack of 24-hour authority was the factor that was holding most AM stations back from converting to HD. There are plenty of other drawbacks that are well known within the engineering community: nighttime
interference, questionable audio quality on the current codecs, and limited reach of AM HD signals (of the three HD AMs in my market, I can only hear two of them at all reliably, and I expect that the third, which is already iffy by day, will be entirely unusable in HD at night
where I am.)
Bottom line: will HD Radio be a failure? No – but whatever success it achieves as a niche medium will be as a result of FM multicasting and the new options it opens up to broadcasters in a position to take advantage of them (like public radio, for instance, where an average station has access to much more programming than it has airtime on its main signal). AM HD may go the way of AM stereo and fade into oblivion, or at worse it may show up on a few hundred stations and cause us, as DXers, some new interference headaches.
But to predict that somehow everyone on the dial will suddenly turn on the buzzsaws just because the FCC says they can is to ignore a market reality in which AM HD has already become an afterthought. No, this is not a happy day for AM DX, but neither is it the end of the
hobby, not by a long shot.

(Doug Smith)
What Scott F. said…
A few other thoughts…
– Usually this kind of FCC action isn’t actually effective until 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. In recent amateur cases this publication seems to take about a week to ten days. So these IBOC rules won’t be effective until early May.
– (though I wouldn’t be too surprised to see some stations receive Special Temporary Authority before then)
– As Scott says, don’t expect a stampede towards implementation of IBOC, especially on AM stations.
– There are islands of IBOC inactivity, and they’re Australia-sized… A quick scan of the IBOC stations listed in the back of the NRC Log shows 53% of them are on clear channels. 38% are on regionals, and only 9% on graveyard channels. Smaller stations are not interested.
We survived the development of the all-night station, 24/7 operation, satellite feeds, automation, hourly (instead of twice-hourly) legal IDs, and a radio war with Cuba. We’ll survive this.

IBOC nel night time, la FCC sta decidendo

E’ mezzogiorno a Washington e la Federal Communication Commission sta deliberando su alcune questioni relative alla radio digitale IBOC (HD Radio di Ibiquity). Pochi minuti fa su una lista di discussione americana è apparso un primo de profundis di un DXer che “annunciava” l’approvazione di IBOC, finora autorizzato in trasmissione su onde medie solo prima del tramonto, anche nel cosiddetto night time. E’ una autorizzazione molto temuta da chi ascolta le stazioni lontane in AM, perché se il rumore digitale comincia a propagarsi a distanza, le interferenze sulle stazioni analogiche potrebbero essere importanti. Il messaggio che ho appena citato, di Bruce Carter, parla non a caso di “morte delle onde medie”. Al messaggio sta replicando (sto seguendo la lista in tempo reale e il sito della FCC ha, per tutte le sue udienze, una bella diretta Internet da nazione civile) Scott Fybush, DXer e consulente radiofonico, con un messaggio più positivo. Anche se IBOC fosse approvato nel night time, scrive Scott, non è detto che le onde medie siano finite, semplicemente perché l’opzione digitale in questa banda non ha incontrato un grande successo: sono le stazioni in FM quelle più interessate ad HD Radio, e soprattutto per le opportunità date dal multiplexing di più programmi su una sola frequenza (opzione che su onde medie, per ragioni di larghezza di banda, non può funzionare con l’IBOC ibrido analogico-digitale). Fybush conclude affermando di essere stupito davanti a tanti DXer e associazioni di DXer “ansiosi,” scrive, “di dichiarare l’imminente dipartita del nostro hobby”.
E’ una osservazione che mi sta facendo riflettere, perché anch’io dopo tanti anni di passione per le radio lontane a volte mi faccio prendere da un certo pessimismo, non solo davanti alle oggettive minacce che arrivano dalle modulazioni digitali, ma anche per il graduale assottigliarsi del numero di stazioni in onde medie e corte (l’FM è un’altra cosa, ce ne sono moltissime ma qui in Italia è difficile fare dell’FM DX – che pure esiste ed è molto divertente – come si deve). Per fortuna ci sono ancora molte cose da ascoltare là fuori e ogni tanto ci arrivano confortanti notizie relative alla riattivazione di frequenze che erano state spente. Alla fine il pessimismo è dovuto a un terzo fattore, contro cui è difficile fare qualcosa: l’hobby della radio inteso alla nostra maniera è ormai una nicchia popolata da vecchi babbioni come me. Ogni anno l’età media della nicchia aumenta di un anno, il ricambio non esiste e anzi il bilancio è sempre più negativo. Non c’è troppo da stupirsi, un giovane che fino a trent’anni fa trovava affascinante la radio oggi trova molto più affascinante Internet e tutto il resto. E’ giusto così, non è la radio a morire, ma i radioascoltatori stanno sempre meno bene. Ma continuano a divertirsi.
Stay tuned per i risultati da Washington, vedremo se il rumore digitale potrà propagarsi con l’onda di cielo. E, se sì, quali saranno le vere conseguenze sul DXing in onde medie.

Un appello contro HD Radio

Giovedì 22 la FCC americana si riunisce per stabilire le regole definitive per l’uso della tecnica di modulazione digitale (ibrida) HD Radio/IBOC http://www.fcc.gov/mb/audio/digital/. In discussione dovrebbe esserci anche la questione dell’uso di HD Radio in onde medie dopo il tramonto, quando il segnale di cielo porta il “fischio” digitale (quello che si sente di HD Radio quando si utilizza un ricevitore normale su una frequenza vicina a quella di una stazione IBOC) a viaggiare molto lontano.
Quello che segue è l’appello che un DXer americano (noto per il suo stile un po’ barocco) particolarmente sfavorevole a una tecnologia in-band come quella proposta da Ibiquity ha pubblicato su Etherzone.com. In sostanza Zecchino sostiene che autorizzare IBOC di notte equivale a negare a milioni di persone ancora in possesso di radio non digitali l’accesso ai programmi locali, con gravi conseguenze sulla possibilità di disporre di fonti informative preziose in caso di emergenze meteorologiche, traffico stradale intenso e situazioni di disordine.

STOP HD/IBOC RADIO BEFORE IT BLOCS
YOUR RIGHT TO PUBLIC AIRWAVES

By: Paul Vincent Zecchino

You slipslide home through a nighttime blizzard. You tune in the weather. Your hometown station, ‘Big 800’, is gone, drowned by a shrill hissing. You tune another local station. You hear blown steamlines shrieking across six channels. Denied vital information, you get stuck in an easily avoidable traffic jam, all because BigKorpseorate Radio denied you your right to access your airwaves and hear your local stations.
Later, you call your stations to report this. They’re sympathetic, as are most local businesses. They say the hissing is IBOC – In Band On Channel – a digital signal called “HD Radio”. They say the FCC, against all sense, approved it. Distant HD signals jam Big 800, depriving listener and advertiser alike. Worse, the jammer is a station on 820, over a thousand miles and two channels away. They say the FCC, long trusted to keep our airwaves free from destructive illegal interference, now strangely turns a deaf ear to it.
You report your noisesome disruption to Radio 820’s manager. Callously dismissive, he states HD Radio is ‘your inevitable digital future’. He’s compliant with FCC rules, says he. Even if not, he taunts, tough, “HD’s gonna happen! Buy HD radio! It scrolls traffic texting across a screen.” He dares you to report his jamming interference to the FCC. Go right ahead, he baits, boasting that his network owns the FCC. He hangs up.
Does the above sound like a malevolent totalitarian fantasy? Yes. Unfortunately, it’s what citizens experience when they inquire about destructive interference from HD or iBLOC, as scurillous wags call IBOC. Has your favorite classical FM station vanished down a buzzing maelstrom? Do hissing shrieks across your AM dial now block vibrant stations you formerly long enjoyed? Welcome to your ‘inevitable digital future’, as HD Cheerleaders call it.
Big Boy Broadcasters want to seize control of your airwaves. They’ve been at it since the rotten 90s. They say they ‘must do more’ to promote HD. Their actions refute them. Yes, they forced small stations to install HD equipment. Engineers who pointed out obvious flaws, they coerced into silence. But BigKorpseorate Broadcasters labored to keep HD a secret from you, the listening public, to whom your airwaves belong.
Why?
Because HD Radio/IBLOC renders all existing radios worthless. If these greedy-guts have their way this Thursday, March 22, and receive FCC night HD authorization, you might as well burn the wife’s Bose Car Radio, the restored Cathedral set gift from your son, and your neat waterproof AM/FM armset you love playing while jogging. Billions of radios worth trillions of dollars will be rendered worthless, all because The Big Boys want money.
Your ‘Invevitable Digital Future’, as HD Pavilllion calls it, is in reality, The Company Store. HD/iBLOC is not only backward incompatible, it’s backward destructive. Backward compatible means your heirloom ’51 Black & White DuMont pulls in American Idol. It means your KLH FM Mono Radio hears FM stations, minus the stereo. HD not only won’t work with your AM and FM analog sets, it jams them. Their abrasive hissing travels great distances, many times farther than their useable digital signal. As the Big Boys see it, either buy new radios from them, or listen to their buzzing.
Despite rabid consumer and broadcaster apathy, this irksome radio barnfly won’t go away. Why not? At this Thursday’s meeting, a docile FCC may short-circuit market forces by allowing HD jammers on air 24/7. This means that sooner than later, the public will give up and buy unecessary HD radios.
HD radio is a long obsolete, fatally flawed, serially superseded concept. BigKorpseorate Broadcasters like HD because it limits listeners’ choices – to them. During the past ten years, they bought numerous stations, fired local talent, and syndicated dope addicts fobbed off as ‘talk hosts’. Execs claimed layoffs benefitted investors and stuffed their pockets. Ratings fell. A techno-solution, HD, was cobbled up. www.ibiquity.com was reportedly tossed a no-bid contract to develop HD. No one wants this Radio Zil. The more your learn about HD, the more you detest it. Retailers yoked into selling HD sets hide them from sight. You need outside antennas to hear nearby HD stations. You can see the tower, but, no rooftop antenna? No signal. As your HOA CC&R’s prohibit outside antennas, the point is moot. What on earth was this HD Pavillion thinking?
Total Control, that’s what. Total Control means never having to say you’re sorry for cheaply produced, lackluster, repetitive programs that bore gnats to sobs.
iPods, WiMax, and other legit gadgets leave this 70s kluge in the dustbin of Hole-i-garch History.
Acquaint yourself with ‘our inevitable digital future’ at

http://www.eastbayexpress.com/2007-03-07/music/hd-radio-on-the-offensive
http://www.wrathofkahn.org,
http://www.hear2.com/2007/inside_the_shar.html

– and recoil. Once and former credible industry poopsheet, Radio World, unfortunately quacks the Digitalis Uber Alles party line at www.rwonline.com. But for the moment, please….
…Time is short. Please, today, e-mail, write, fax, and/or call the FCC, www.fcc.gov . Ask them to reject Docket # 99-325 at their public meeting, Thursday, 22 March, 2007. Your public airwaves are at stake. HD promoters tell a variety of tales to conceal the inconvenient truth about destructive interference. Some say jamming is their true goal. Many listeners believe everything about HD radio is a lie. Why trust your airwaves to them?

“Published originally at EtherZone.com: republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.”

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