December 6, 2005 1:23 PM PST

Broadcast giants join forces on HD radio

A group of major broadcast radio networks said Tuesday that they created a coalition that will allow them to jointly market new digital radio services.

The networks also said they will collaborate closely as they divide up programming formats.

The big radio companies are the midst of a technology transformation--similar to what's happening in the television industry with HDTV--as they begin to broadcast in a new format called HD Radio. The new, high-definition format allows static-free signals on both AM and FM bands, and also allows multiple audio streams to fit into the same slice of airwave spectrum used for a single station today.

Nearly 600 radio stations around the country have already begun broadcasting in HD Radio. But few consumers are aware of the changes that the format is expected to bring. What's more, production of HD-capable radios has been delayed enough so that only a few will be on the market during this holiday shopping season.

The new group, called the HD Digital Radio Alliance, will bring together seven of the largest radio chains in an effort to jointly market the technology and coordinate the launch of new services.

"The radio industry in full force is going to step forward and promote this," said veteran broadcast executive Peter Ferrara, who will serve as the group's chief executive officer. "Our hope is that consumers start marching into (retailers) and start saying, 'Hey, where's my HD radio?'"

The radio industry is looking to the new digital format as the answer to satellite radio's growing popularity, and as a way to lure consumers away from portable music devices such as Apple Computer's iPod.

With technology created by a company called Ibiquity and approved by federal regulators in 2002, HD Radio sharply improves sound quality and allows broadcasters to expand programming with extra channels or streams of data such as traffic and weather information. At least for the first two years, Alliance members will offer these additional channels commercial-free, the group said.

The member organizations will be coordinating programming decisions on these extra channels, which the industry is calling HD2, hoping to avoid overlaps, Ferrara said. Thus, if two stations both want to broadcast classic rock, for example, the Alliance will assign it to just one station, pushing the other to pick a different format.

Ferrara said this arrangement, which will see rivals with substantial market power working unusually close together, does not present antitrust concerns.

"We have been very well-counseled from the antitrust standpoint and don't see that as an issue," Ferrara said. "It is tough to be anticompetitive when there are no radios out there for people to listen to."

Keith Dubanevich, an antitrust attorney with Garvey Schubert Barer, said the agreement was atypical but would depend on the details of how the group resolved disputes, and how easy it will be for nonparticipating stations to launch competing formats.

"It would start to look problematic if Nike and Adidas agreed that Nike would only make soccer shoes and Adidas would only make basketball shoes," Dubanevich said. "This is a little like that. But it is definitely not a clear-cut antitrust issue."

The alliance also will launch a nationwide consumer marketing campaign beginning in early 2006. The companies have jointly pledged to devote at least $200 million in commercial inventory, or advertising space, to the effort next year.

The companies involved include Bonneville International, Citadel Broadcasting, Clear Channel Radio, Cumulus, Emmis Communications, Entercom, Greater Media, and Infinity Broadcasting. Other U.S. radio networks are eligible to join, the group said.

11 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Satellite radio
I don't really care much about quality of the sound, I care about the quality of the music. Satellite radio provides much more better music then my local radio stations.
__________________________________
R.K.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.Remove-All-Spyware.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.Remove-All-Spyware.com/</a>
Posted by Roman12 (214 comments )
Reply Link Flag
XM Radio
Yes But I Still Won't Pay To Here The Radio. I know Some Radio Stations Will Play The Same Music All The Time and Sometimes I Think They Do This To Get People To Get XM Radio. I Don't Know Why They Would Do This But If I Get Sick Of The Radio I Will Just Play A CD Or If I Want The News I Will Put On AM Talk Radio. If You Have XM Who Knows Where Your News Could Be Comming From.

David,

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.1David6.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.1David6.com</a>

/\0!0/\
Posted by www.1david6.com (18 comments )
Link Flag
HD radio better?
Hardly. this is industry hype.
Posted by (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
HD Radio Is Not Better.
HD Radio Is Not Better It Is Just Another Way For Them To Make Money and Compeat With Satellite Radio.

David,
/\0!0/\
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.1David6.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.1David6.com</a>
Posted by www.1david6.com (18 comments )
Link Flag
Sounds enticing. Free is good. FCC?
Anything digital is generally good. So no more loud and messy commercials and garbage options I hope. But Podcasting XM are not regulated by the FCC I don't think.
Posted by Blito (436 comments )
Reply Link Flag
spaceage sauceage
sounds yummy
Posted by (47 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Unless there is Howard Stern and others....
HD Radio will be the same super regulated garbage from the religious right that we are getting now
Posted by zincmann (153 comments )
Reply Link Flag
go howard!
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/cadillac_fleetwood_owners_manual.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/cadillac_fleetwood_owners_manual.htm</a>
Posted by 208774626618253979477959487856 (176 comments )
Reply Link Flag
HD and Sat Radio
I Do Like The Idea Of Having A Radio Station and Music I Like When I Want It and Wherever I Go. What I Dont Like About It Is That If Every One Gets It This Will Be The End Of Free Radio So The Poor Smos Who Go To Work That Just Want Background Noise In The Office Have To Pay. Also This Is Another Thing You Will Be Paying Taxes On Oh and Do You Really Think It Will Be Free Of Adds Forever No As Soon As They Get ALot Of Peaple To Join They Will Slowley Move Them In Just As They Did With Sat and Cable TV.
So It May Be Nice But I Still Want To Keep Radio Free.
David,
Respond at www.1david6.com/Main/m.html
Posted by www.1david6.com (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Keep Radio FREE
I Do Like The Idea Of Having A Radio Station and Music I Like When I Want It and Wherever I Go. What I Dont Like About It Is That If Every One Gets It This Will Be The End Of Free Radio So The Poor Smos Who Go To Work That Just Want Background Noise In The Office Have To Pay. Also This Is Another Thing You Will Be Paying Taxes On Oh and Do You Really Think It Will Be Free Of Adds Forever No As Soon As They Get ALot Of Peaple To Join They Will Slowley Move Them In Just As They Did With Sat and Cable TV.
So It May Be Nice But I Still Want To Keep Radio Free.
David,
Respond at <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.1david6.com/Main/m.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.1david6.com/Main/m.html</a>
Posted by www.1david6.com (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
HD Radio
This Is Crazy. Most People Don't Even Have Radios That Can Receave The HD Signal. If People Wanted To Inprove There Radio Signal They Would Get. Satalight Radio. I Hope They Don't Get Satalight Radio. I Don't Like It. Why Pay For Radio When It Is Free? I Don't Think This Makes The Sound Quality Any Better. I Will Have To Here It To Believe It. There Have Been Radio Adds Going Around That Starts Out As News Then They Come On And Say "Radio Some Thisgs Where Just Ment To Be Free"
More At <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.1david6.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.1david6.com</a>
Posted by www.1david6.com (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.