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DAB+ Deployment in France Progresses

Radio World - Wed, 07/03/2019 - 10:36

PARIS — DAB+ deployment in France is taking steps that are making it, slowly but surely, the platform of choice for radio across the country.

Jean-Marc Dubreuil

Following initial launches in Paris, Nice and Marseille in 2014, and significant milestones achieved in 2018 (including launches in Lille, Lyon and Strasbourg areas), France is gearing up to launch DAB+ in Nantes and Rouen in the second part of 2019, while all eyes are already turning to 2020.

Looking back at the first half of 2019, one could mistakenly think that very little has happened on the DAB+ front, particularly when compared with 2018 [1], or to what 2020 has in store. “Au contraire.”

EXPANSION

On July 4 July, Nantes, a city that has always been at the forefront of DAB+ (home to a very active commercial and community radio network, and one of the first cities in France to trial the technology), will officially launch DAB+, with 41 radio stations going on air via DAB+.

A combination of new programs, which could not broadcast in FM, and of simulcast, some radios extending their broadcast coverage thanks to DAB+, will be available to listeners in the region, the most eager of which jumped on the digital bandwagon during the early testing phases. The official launch of DAB+ in Rouen, to the northwest of Paris, will follow suit right after the summer break.

[Read: WorldDAB Automotive 2019 Studies DAB+ in the Dash]

 Many other metropolitan areas are also preparing for the arrival of DAB+ in 2020 — in July 2018, the French regulator CSA launched 15 calls for applications [2] (28 multiplexes in total) targeted at some of the most densely populated areas across the country.

Each multiplex in France can carry 13 programs. All 28 allotments have been awarded and are full, meaning an additional 364 DAB+ programs will go live on DAB+ throughout France in 2020. Regional, community and public service radios are now preparing the infrastructure.

They will start in 2020 along with the coverage of Bordeaux, Toulouse and surrounding cities (again, a clean sweep, with each of the six planned multiplex being full – 78 programs). The success of the application has a side effect: this will ease the economical equation for the radios that are part of the journey.

This summer of 2019, the pace will not abate, as more stations will have the opportunity to acquire DAB+ licences, with 15 calls for applications due to be opened. The idea is to propose DAB+ to a continuously larger proportion of the French population by 2021[3].

Last but not least, 18 national commercial radios, along with six programs of the public service [4], are getting together to lay the groundwork for the two national multiplexes that will ultimately cover the highways and main road networks in France.

The 24 stations were authorized by the regulator on 24 April 2019. Two multiplex operators (one for each multiplex of 12 radios) were proposed back to the regulator for authorization before the 24 June deadline. The same editors are also contemplating a coordinated communication strategy for the end user.

This picture would not be complete if we were not covering the equipment manufacturers’ readiness. While most of EU member states are in the process of transposing article 113 of the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) by December 2020, French law [5] is already one step ahead. Since late December 2018, more than 20% of the French population [6] is covered by a digital terrestrial radio broadcast, which triggered the French receiver law, requiring — by mid 2020 at the latest – all new receivers (standalone or in a new car), to be equipped with DAB+. Distributors, manufacturers and the wider industry are now planning for this important transition in France, which accounts for over 5 million new receiver sales each year.

2019 is not just another year for DAB+ in France — as demonstrated by the launch of DAB+ in Nantes, it is a pivotal period for broadcasters to deploy DAB+, and offer more choice to continuously wider pool of listeners.

For the receiver manufacturer and car industries, it is a transition period that will allow to plan the production of receivers in 2020 and beyond and make the most of the opportunities offered by DAB+.

For the industry at large, collaboration will be the keyword to prepare and synchronize a much needed communication campaigns that will help educate the only person that matters — the listener.

[1] https://worlddabeureka.org/2019/01/10/radio-in-france-headed-towards-a-digital-future/

[2] Bayonne, La Rochelle, Pau, Besançon, Dijon, Annecy, Annemasse, Chambéry, Grenoble, Saint-Etienne, Avignon, Toulon, Orléans, Poitiers, Tours

[3] Amiens, Angers, Brest, Caen, Clermont-Ferrand, Le Mans, Limoges, Metz, Montpellier, Nancy, Nîmes, Perpignan, Reims, Troyes et Rennes.

[4] France Inter, France Culture, France Info, France Musique, FIP et Mouv’ ; Fun Radio, RTL, RTL2 ; Chérie, Nostalgie, NRJ, Rire et Chansons ; Europe 1, RFM, Virgin Radio ; BFM Business, BFM Radio (new), RMC ; Air Zen (new) ; Latina, M Radio, Radio Classique, Skyrock

[5] https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000000248397

[6] https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000037856950&categorieLien=id

The post DAB+ Deployment in France Progresses appeared first on Radio World.

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WorldCast Enhances Audemat DAB Probe

Radio World - Tue, 07/02/2019 - 09:54

WorldCast Systems has enriched its Audemat DAB Probe for monitoring DAB, DAB+ and DMB radio applications.

Designed to monitor DAB signal quality and service continuity at the transmitter site or in a coverage area, the Audemat DAB Probe enables remote monitoring of a set list of channels. It allows users to verify the conformity of their DAB network with both legislation and their broadcasting needs.

[Read: What’s New With RDS2]

Installed in SFN or MFN networks, the solution features a web interface, alarm notification by email or SNMP traps, and is equipped with telemetry board via ScriptEasy and audio output connectors.

According to the company, the software tools provide a deep signal and content analysis with impulse response representation, TII, audio or ETI recording. What’s more, adds WorldCast, the unit is designed for optimal monitoring of the user experience (QoE) and includes visual slideshows, dynamic label and services (DLS) display to enable users to hear and see in real-time the same content as their audience of listeners.

Improvements to the Audemat DAB Probe include the decoding of FIG tables for a more detailed analysis of the streaming content received; and the display of real audio and PAD bit rates, so broadcasters can visualize the real audio quality and have the possibility to listen to radio remotely using native codecs (MP2 or AAC+) or with an MP3 compression of 8kbps to 320 kbps.

In addition, an optional card for ETI output is now available for a connection to analysis equipment or recordings. And the management of telemetry I/Os to monitor and control the on-site measurement equipment or probes is possible.

The post WorldCast Enhances Audemat DAB Probe appeared first on Radio World.

Company Hopes to Make “Magic” for Radio

Radio World - Tue, 07/02/2019 - 09:43
Clip Interactive believes a meaningful number of U.S. radio listeners would be willing to pay $12 each month to hear ad-free local on-demand radio.

It’s not too late for radio broadcasters to get a piece of the subscription audio pie. So says streaming audio technology company Clip Interactive, which wants to build a business by helping radio do just that.

“The current combined U.S. subscription revenues of Apple Music, Pandora, SiriusXM and Spotify are worth $11.5 billion annually,” said Bill Freund of Clip Interactive this spring. Had U.S. radio developed its own on-demand subscription streaming audio service a decade or more ago, Freund added, they could have grabbed a big slice of that. 

“Such a service could include commercial-free content, plus all of the personalities, local information, sports and all the other entertainment that broadcast radio provides,” he said. “They could have really leveraged this space and made money from it.”

The opportunity to make money from ad-free/on-demand subscription audio is not lost, as far as Clip Interactive is concerned. The Colorado-based company has developed a paid radio streaming app called Magic. What Freund calls a “technology demonstration app” was released to some broadcasters the final week of June. 

The company believes at least 10 to 15% of radio listeners are willing to pay $12 each month to hear ad-free local radio. According to Freund, even that is a conservative estimate. 

“Actually 32% of 2,000 listeners surveyed in a Harris Poll said they’d be willing to pay $12 a month for commercial-free on-demand broadcast radio streaming,” he said. This breaks down as 45% of SiriusXM, 43% of internet radio listeners and 29% of AM/FM listeners. 

$12 PER MONTH

It would be expensive for individual broadcasters and even radio groups to develop their own subscription radio services. But using a Magic-style app, Clip says, listeners could replace on-air commercials with favorite songs/talk segments, request local traffic and weather on demand, and yet stay synchronized to a station’s on-air transmission, whether listening directly through their smartphones or smart speakers or in the car. 

This is why Clip wants to aggregate all U.S. radio streams onto the Magic platform, a significant difference from iHeartRadio’s offering that only aggregates iHeartMedia streams and podcasts. 

Bill Freund

Freund explains, “It is really like the radio dial for all existing stations, only without commercials.” Freund also highlighted the simplicity of the Magic user interface, which will utilize voice controls to skip and request content. Finally, Freund says that the commercials will not just be skipped but will be “covered by new content,” such as other radio segments, music discovery created by program directors, podcast clips or perhaps even user-generated audio.

[From 2015 — Clip Interactive Launches Independent Broadcaster Program]

The company will handle the heavy lifting involved with ad/song substitution and skipping, on-demand content requests and stream synchronization. The mixing would be handled by Magic’s artificial intelligence, which would act as a curator/DJ to ensure smooth transitions. The Magic AI would also keep tabs on each user’s content choices, to suggest song/genre choices to them.   

“Say the user was listening to their local Cumulus CHR station, and that station went into a commercial set,” said Freund. “Our AI could be programmed to switch the user to another Cumulus station in the same genre, seamlessly switching them back to the local station once the commercial set was over.”

The bottom line for Magic subscribers would be ad-free broadcast radio that they could let run uninterrupted or control at will using voice commands. Either way, the commercial sets that many listeners find irritating would be a thing of the past, at a cost of $12/month.

BUSINESS CASE

The fact that some of radio’s listeners would now be tuned into Magic rather than over-the-air broadcasts would not substantially affect radio’s OTA advertising revenues, Freund contends, but would give these stations access to subscription revenues that didn’t exist before.

How much money each station could make would depend on how many subscribers on the Magic platform select their audio streams, and for how long. This is due to the business structure of the Magic platform: All of the subscriber revenues are combined into a pool, whose net is split between Clip Interactive and its member stations.

For its portion of the take, the company will handle all aspects of the Magic playout platform, including paying royalties and all other fees on the broadcasters’ behalf. The Magic platform makes it possible for broadcasters to earn revenues from subscription radio without doing anything beyond providing a stream to the company.

Clip Interactive is promoting its Magic platform to U.S. broadcasters and sponsored a session at the recent NAB Show to spread the word. The message Freund wants to get across to broadcasters: “Magic would allow them to get a share of the subscription audio market, without having to do anything on their part.” With $11.5 billion in play annually, is it a business case worth considering? Freund says it’s currently working on a Nasdaq initial public offering slated for September, concurrent with the release of an alpha pilot of Magic, during which the company plans to work with its first partner broadcaster. Later in 2019, Magic’s beta version will be released, and Freund says the company “hope[s] to expand to any broadcaster who is interested.”

ABOUT CLIP INTERACTIVE

According to its website, Clip Interactive develops “technologies that identify, unitize and deliver audio content to consumers so they can listen to what they want, when they want.” Among its offerings, Clip coordinates placement of digital ads with on-air ads using machine learning algorithms; and it aims to offer “a comprehensive marketing technology platform that can target and measure like digital.” 

The firm was founded by Jeff Thramann. Michael Lawless is CEO. In early 2018, Clip Interactive announced it hoped eventually to become a public company.  

Bill Freund is EVP and chief business development officer as well as an equity partner. He is perhaps most familiar to the industry as co-founder of Triton Digital. He has also worked at Podcast One, Westwood One, Katz Media Group and AM/FM-Chancellor, and he founded a capital advisory company. 

The post Company Hopes to Make “Magic” for Radio appeared first on Radio World.

Podcast #200 – How We Survived a Decade of Independent Publishing

Radio Survivor - Tue, 07/02/2019 - 07:01

Radio Survivor celebrates 10 years on the internet and four years podcasting with our 200th episode. Matthew Lasar joins Jennifer Waits, Eric Klein and Paul Riismandel for this review of the last decade in radio that matters.

Matthew tells the Radio Survivor origin story that sprang forth from his I.F. Stone inspired research deep into the digital catacombs of the FCC database, unearthing comments that broadcast execs never imagined would be public – such as one who accused prominent media reformists of being “communists.”

Jennifer recalls how a literature review for a journal article on college radio revealed how little scholarly work existed on the topic, compelling her to document this important media form that Matthew says he has learned is, “the first public radio.” “The present is future history,” Jennifer observes. This prompts Paul to comment how we’ve begun to fulfill that promise, given that Radio Survivor now has dozens of citations in scholarly works.

On the way through these stories, everyone notes the changes in the broadcast and online media landscape since 2009, how some publications have come and gone, and offering reasons why Radio Survivor has managed to survive. It’s a discussion of interest to anyone who has tried to, or wants to, sustain a passion project fueled primarily by volunteer labor.

We’re making a ‘zine!

As we announce on this episode, in August we’ll be publishing our first ever print project, hand made in the spirit of great independent radio.

We’ll send issue #1 to every Patreon supporter who gives at the $5/month level or more. But you have to be signed up by August 1, 2019.

Plus, every new sign-up gets us closer to our goal of 100 Patreon supporters so that we have a foundation to do the work of documenting the upcoming 20th anniversaries of Indymedia and low-power FM.

See our ‘zine page to learn more, or go ahead and sign up now.

Show Notes:

The post Podcast #200 – How We Survived a Decade of Independent Publishing appeared first on Radio Survivor.

We’re Making a ‘Zine for Our Supporters

Radio Survivor - Tue, 07/02/2019 - 06:01

We wanted to find a special way to thank the readers and listeners who support us every month via our Patreon campaign. Something unique, hand-made and in the spirit of great college and community radio.

Why not make a ‘zine?

If you’ve never heard of a ‘zine, it’s an independently produced publication, often photocopied and hand-assembled. The history goes back to mimeographed science fiction fanzines published as far back as the 1930s. Adopted by punk and underground music fans in the 70s and 80s, the name was shortened to ‘zine to reflect a broadening in subject matter beyond just fandom. For more history, see this brief timeline.

For Radio Survivor ‘Zine #1 we’re writing and assembling pieces that we feel are fit for a more tactile format, breaking free of the strict layouts forced upon us by blog software. You won’t find these pieces on our website or anywhere else online. Here are more details:

  • Radio Survivor Zine #1 will go to everyone who contributes $5 a month or more to our Patreon campaign.
    • You need to have completed at least one payment in order to get the ‘zine, but if you’ve signed up by Aug. 1 we’ll send the zine as soon as that first payment is made.
  • The deadline to sign up is August 1, 2019
  • We’ll send out the ‘zines in August 2019

Here is a sampling of the features in Radio Survivor Zine #1:

  • “Wild Flowers and Radio Towers”
  • “Radios I Have Known and Loved”
  • Hand-drawn illustrations and cartoons
  • more more more!

If you sign on as a Patron of Radio Survivor you’ll also be helping us reach our goal of the 100 supporters we need to do the work of documenting the 20th anniversaries of Indymedia and low-power FM.

Sign up now to reserve your copy of Radio Survivor ‘Zine #1!

The post We’re Making a ‘Zine for Our Supporters appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Reflections on the Walkman and Radio on the Occasion of the Former’s 40th Birthday

Radio Survivor - Tue, 07/02/2019 - 02:37

The Sony Walkman celebrated its 40th birthday on Monday, July 1. While portable audiocassette recorder/players that you could connect to headphones had been around pretty much since the invention of the medium, the Walkman was the first one designed specifically for stereo playback on the go, for personal listening, without even a tiny speaker.

Although the Walkman is principally a cassette device, I’ve always associated it with radio. Sure, in some ways it’s almost anti-radio, giving the person on-the-go a completely individualized listening experience. The first model lacked a tuner, but it wouldn’t be long until a receiver became almost standard.

A child of the 80s, I remember lusting after a Walkman, though the first generations were priced well beyond the reach of a pre-teen. Around 1983 or 1984 nearly every electronics manufacturer made its own version, and by then I managed to save up about 25 bucks, enough to buy the bottom-of-the-line Sanyo knock-off.

As I recall, the Sanyo was on the bulky side, with just three buttons: play, stop and fast-forward. Rewind was too sophisticated for such an inexpensive device (worth about $60 in today’s dollars). If you needed to rewind you flipped the cassette over and fast-forwarded the opposite side. But it did come with those iconic cheap 80s headphones with the orange ear cushions (as seen in “Guardians of the Galaxy”).

I might have wanted one with a radio, but the extra five or ten bucks would have been too much of a stretch for this middle-schooler.

Thanks to the Pocket Calculator Show’s extensive archive directories of portable stereos I’ve concluded I had likely had the Sanyo M-G7, without radio. The lack of receiver would be supplemented by a Magnavox D1600 tiny portable AM/FM radio I received as a birthday gift. Back then I think we’d have called it a “Walkman radio,” since it didn’t have a speaker, intended only for headphone listening.

Radios like this were directly influenced by the Walkman. Tiny transistor radios had been around a couple of decades by the early 80s, and most included an earphone jack for discreet listening. But they almost always had a tinny speaker intended for most of the listening, offering overall a mono, low-fidelity experience.

New breed Walkman-style radios were headphone-only, and much tinier. That Magnavox was the size of a deck of cards, only about one-third as thick. Plus, it offered FM stereo. Though, in reality, because the headphone cable doubled as the antenna, you had to find a really strong signal to get that stereo light to go on. Even so, sometimes even the slightest movement could kill it.

It wasn’t long after getting that first Sanyo player that I desired an upgrade that was smaller, sounded better and might even rewind tapes. Thereafter every Walkman-style player I’d get would have a radio – never would I have considered one without it. That’s not just because I’m a life-long radio nerd.

Sometimes you’d get tired of the one or two tapes you have with you, and want to hear something different. Or I’d want to catch a specific show while on the school bus or out walking. Also, in the days before good rechargeable batteries, often the radio still worked decently even when worn-down batteries made Metallica sound like Leonard Cohen.

Though Walkman is a Sony trademark, the only actual Sony model I ever owned was one a heavy-duty, water-proof, bright yellow Sports Walkman from the early 90s. As it turned out, that would be my last one, for all intents and purposes. Though I’ve owned a couple more in the intervening years, they were all recording models that primarily saw duty as cheap field recorders.

By 1991 I got my first Sony Discman portable CD player, which competed for listening time with the cassette Walkman. I didn’t give up on cassettes, since these were the days before CD-Rs, and I was still a prolific mix-tape maker and trader. But since I bought most of my music on CD the Discman was more likely to be my travel companion.

One con of pretty much every portable CD player I’ve owned is that none had a radio. I seem to remember such existing, but they were far less common than cassette players with radios. I wonder if maybe the far more sophisticated CD electronics posed more interference than the comparatively primitive cassette mechanicals.

The lack of integrated radio persisted as I graduated to minidisc as my primary portable music device in 1997. Though sometimes derided as a failure, the format lasted more than 20 years, and at that time it gave me all the recording convenience of a cassette, with near-CD quality, in a much smaller package.

I remember one minidisc recorder I owned that had a radio integrated into its wired remote – a wired remote with a headphone jack was a common feature – rather than on the unit itself. Again, I think the minidisc electronics created too much interference to have it housed in the same case a radio. Though it was a clever workaround, performance was disappointing. So, it went mostly unused.

That’s why I always had a little Walkman-style radio in my arsenal. Often used for daily public transport commutes, they were always in my travel bag to scan the dial when visiting different cities.

For a while, in the awkward time between the slow decline of the minidisc format and the rise of the smartphone I had a tiny Sansa branded MP3 player that featured a surprisingly good FM tuner. That actually got a lot of use even after I got my first iPhone, since it was the size of a couple of chapsticks, taking up almost no space in any bag.

I’m a little chagrined to admit that I don’t currently have a Walkman-style radio now. It’s true that the smartphone dominates my portable listening, and for most trips, short or long, I’m more inclined to choose podcasts or my own music. I do still travel with a radio, but these days I use one with a speaker, shortwave reception and a built-in digital recorder. True, it’s bigger than the tiny Walkman radios I’ve owned, but it does a lot more, too.

Thinking about it is making me want to get one. Turns out, there are still plenty out there, though most are from obscure Chinese brands. Looks like too small a niche for Sony anymore. That said, you can get a cute little red Sony MP3 player that has a radio for about $60, or an FM-enabled Sansa Clip Jam for less than $30. It’s just that with the MP3 players you give up AM reception.

Given that new portable cassette players are even more rare, it may well be the case that the Walkman-style radio has, or will, outlive the cassette player that inspired it.

At least until Sony decides there’s enough nostalgia dollars out there to cash in.

Feature image credit: Grant Hutchinson / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The post Reflections on the Walkman and Radio on the Occasion of the Former’s 40th Birthday appeared first on Radio Survivor.

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FCC Puts SiriusXM EAS Testing on Par With DBS

Radio World - Mon, 07/01/2019 - 19:55

The frequency and breadth of EAS alert testing on SiriusXM radio will change following an FCC order. The commission decided that Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service (SDARS) and Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) services are sufficiently similar in function and technology that their testing requirements should match.

Specifically, the new testing requirements require SiriusXM to log receipt of weekly test of EAS alerts and to transmit a monthly test on 10% of all of its channels, varying which channels are tested month to month so all channels are tested throughout the year.

This change has its roots in an EAS First Report and Order filed in 2005 that extended EAS alert testing requirements for satellite radio. SiriusXM filed a petition that same year, arguing that proposed requirements for weekly and monthly EAS tests on all of its channels would “mislead subscribers to believe that satellite radio operators transmit state and local EAS alerts on all channels,” rather than just on previously identified XM Instant Traffic, Weather & Alert channels. Sirius instead asked that those monthly and weekly tests only occur on the traffic, weather and alert channels.

Sirius later made an ex parte filing in 2014 arguing that circumstances had changed since its petition, and that the EAS testing rules for SDARS providers should be similar to that of DBS. It said the weekly and monthly tests had “imposed an excessive, disproportionate and unnecessary burden on SiriusXM and its subscribers.” It also cited that its breaks are not uniform across all of its channels, making it difficult to naturally insert a time for a wide-ranging test.

Following additional filings and public notices in 2017 and 2018, the FCC has concluded that it is appropriate to make SDARS rules for EAS testing comparable to those for DBS and in the public interest.

Read the full FCC order here.

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The post FCC Puts SiriusXM EAS Testing on Par With DBS appeared first on Radio World.

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