Radio Groups Form "HD Digital Radio Alliance"
December 6, 2005 at 6:05 AM (PT)
The big HD RADIO announcement in NEW YORK TUESDAY morning involved the launch of a "unprecedented radio industry alliance" called the HD DIGITAL RADIO ALLIANCE, involving most of the industry's major operators. 8 companies are charter members- ENTERCOM, CLEAR CHANNEL, CITADEL, BONNEVILLE, INFINITY, EMMIS, GREATER MEDIA, and CUMULUS- and CLEAR CHANNEL RADIO VP of Special Projects PETER FERRARA has been named Pres./CEO of the new organization.
The group announced its charter as three major points: to coordinate the rollout of HD digital radio, including coordinating the formats of multicast channeld "HD2", to work together to secure automotive design "wins" and lower receiver price points, and to jointly market HD digital radio in partnership with receiver manufacturers and retailers. HD2 stations, the "multicast" secondary streams, will be commercial-free and locally programmed (although it is unclear whether the companies intend to use extensive voice-tracking on those channels). Member companies will also devote airtime and dollars- $200 million in airtime plus additional promotional dollars- to promote the service, although the actual dollars were unspecified.
We needed to do more than simply upgrade our plant.
New and niche formats will be featured on the new multicast channels in the top 25 markets, with female oriented talk, hispanic and other ethnic formats, jazz and blues, and mainstream formats that may not be available on the main channels targeted for the subchannels. In response to a question from ALL ACCESS' DAVE HOEFFEL, FERRARA said that the commercial-free would last "as long as necessary to drive consumer awareness." He also said that the group used a "format selection and allocation process" to decide which company got which format in what markets, although how this would survive anti-trust considerations was not specified.
CLEAR CHANNEL's MARK MAYS told the press conference that the industry "needed to do more than simply upgrade our plant. We wanted to provide a compelling consumer proposition." Also in attendance were CUMULUS' LEW DICKEY, INFINITY's JOEL HOLLANDER, GREATER MEDIA's PETER SMYTH, ENTERCOM's DAVID FIELD, EMMIS' RICK CUMMINGS, CLEAR CHANNEL's JOHN HOGAN, CITADEL's FARID SULEMAN, and BONNEVILLE's DREW HOROWITZ.