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NPR, iBiquity Reach A Deal On HD Power Boost

November 5, 2009: NPR and HD Radio developer iBiquity Digital have reached an agreement for managing a power upgrade for HD Radio that should significantly improve HD reception. The pubcaster and iBiquity are presenting a joint recommendation for a fourfold power increase to the FCC.

"We are delighted that the radio industry is now poised to push this technology ahead together," iBiquity President/CEO Bob Struble said. "We've found practical and balanced solutions that will greatly improve reception while limiting interference to existing analog operations."

NPR and iBiquity talked with a number of commercial and noncommercial stations to determine conditions for the power increase, also using NPR Labs' "Advanced IBOC Coverage and Compatibility Study," filed with the FCC this week. With the recommendation for a blanket power increase, NPR and iBiquity have committed to added enhancements to HD Radio, including working on filling coverage gaps and adopting standards to reduce the potential for interference to short-spaced first-adjacent analog stations.

The organizations also offer an approach to added power increases that, they say, should let most stations exceed the 6 dB increase in the joint proposal.

NPR Labs Exec. Director Mike Starling said, "We are optimistic about the future of HD Radio broadcasting, and eager to continue to work with iBiquity on the developments that will make this power increase work to everyone's advantage -- stations, listeners, and receiver makers."

NAB Pleased

The NAB is applauding the agreement; NAB EVP Dennis Wharton said, "NAB is encouraged by this consensus agreement of iBiquity and NPR for optional increased digital power for FM HD Radio stations. We urge the FCC to move quickly and allow stations to operate at increased power according to the criteria in the agreement. This will result in greatly improved indoor reception for digital signals, including multicast signals, and pave the way for greater service reliability using portable HD Radio devices."

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