Broadcasters Continue Rally for Digital Radio
Las Vegas — While the television broadcast industry continues its conversion to HDTV programming to support the multitudes of products available to the public, radio broadcasters are taking a different approach to the digital conversion of the radio medium. At CES, a significant group of broadcasters, representing almost a majority of radio stations in the United States, pledged their intent to convert their stations to digital, even though only a few lines of product on the market support it.
"By the end of 2007 we plan to convert 75 percent of our stations in the major markets," says Jeff Littlejohn, executive senior vice president of distribution development for Clear Channel Radio, a media powerhouse that is also a major investor in iBiquity Digital Corporation, the company that developed and now licenses the FCC-approved digital radio broadcast technology. Sixty-five of the company's stations are broadcasting digitally and Littlejohn says Clear Channel aims to convert 95 percent of its stations in its top 100 markets within three years. Clear Channel operates 1,200 stations in the U.S.
Similar support was echoed by 20 other radio broadcasters—ABC Radio, Beasley Broadcast Group, Cox Radio, Inc., Entercom Communications Corp., Greater Media, Inc., and Univision Radio, to name a few. National Public Radio (NPR) is also pledging to help its member stations convert to digital as part of its "Tomorrow Radio Project." Recently, NPR, hosted one of the first 5.1 surround sound radio broadcasts over public airwaves.