The Federal Communications Commission will implement the rules for digital
radio in early fall, a top aide to chairman Michael Powell said Friday.
"We are anticipating action on that very soon," Susan Eid, Powell's media
advisor, told executives attending the Washington, D.C., conference of the National
Association of Black Owned Broadcasters.
The commission is virtually certain to select a technology know as in-band,
on-channel, which allows stations to introduce a digital signal simultaneously
and on the same frequency as their analog signals. The technology is controlled
by Investors in iBiquity Digital Corp., which is owned by ABC, Clear Channel
Worldwide, Viacom Inc., Harris Corp., Lucent Technologies and Texas Instruments Inc.
Separately, the National Radio Systems Committee, the industry's
standard-setting body, announced that it would begin setting voluntary protocols for IBOC
broadcasts. At least one major bug must be eliminated. So far, IBOC AM does not
work at night because of "skywave," a near-vertical wave that is created when
radio signals from 50-kilowatt AM clear-channel radio stations bounce off the
stratosphere. While that technical problem is being worked out, broadcasters
have asked the FCC to authorize IBOC AM for daytime use.