My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Broadcasters, Radio and DSO - What will be the Fate of Radio after DSO

Monday, November 29, 2010

Broadcasters, Radio and DSO - What will be the Fate of Radio after DSO

Had I but served my God with half the zeal
I served my King, he would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies.

Shakespeare, Henry VIII, 2

It seems that the MAJ (Media Association of Jamaica) is up in arms with regards to the lack of consultation with any of their members with regards to DSO (Digital Switch Over), based on how vocal they are in their complaints as stated in the article “Media Association against 2015 deadline for digital switchover”, published Friday, November 26, 2010, The Jamaica Observer.

Strangely enough, in the announcement made about a week prior by the Broadcasting Commission as stated in the article “Timeline set for digital switchover; Broadcasting Commission, media group disagree on pace”, published Sunday November 21, 2010 by Mark Titus, Business Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner and expanded on in my blog article entitled “Broadcasting and Digital Switch Over - Back to the Future to compete with LIME TV”, no mention is made of the transitioning of Radio to Digital Transmission, more complain worthy, as Radio is dying in Jamaica.

FM going DSO (Digital Switch Over) would be perfect set-up for the panzer advance for Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Networks to utilize the extremely prized spectrum in the FM Band, frequencies between 88.1MHz to 107.9MHz as per our spectrum allocation, which are suitable for high speed data applications.

A 30KW transmitter would have a reach of nearly 100km, being as Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) uses Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM), which is a lot like WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) and employs QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) with speed capabilities of up to 300MBps best effort with T1’s fully provisioned as stated in the article “801.11n Wi-Fi standard finally approved”, published September 11, 2009 5:33 PM PDT by Dong Ngo CNET News – Wireless.

So while the MAJ is quibbling over timelines of other countries for DSO and cost of the transition of their precious free-to-air Television which no one watches, preferring Cable TV, time shifting as stated in the article “Survey of viewers shows extent of TV time shifting”, published Tuesday August 17 2010, 6:53 am ET by DAVID BAUDER, AP Television Writer, Yahoo! News.

Or streaming content over the Internet, a phenomenon picking up steam ever since Wireless Broadband burst unto the scene, as per my analysis in my blog article entitled “Telecom Providers, 100MBps Broadband and the Broadcasting Commission - Redemption Song”.

So what then is the fate of Radio?

Media Practitioner Marcia Forbes, a supporter of licensing of free-to-air spectrum as stated in the article “Radio, TV stations could soon be asked to pay licensing fee to regulator”, published Thursday November 11 2010, The Jamaica Observer asked this question in a previous opinion piece, entitled “What fate for Radio in Jamaica?”, posted Monday, March 15, 2010,  By Marcia Forbes. John Public takes a look at the phenomenon, wearing his RF hat, as hopefully the MAJ does not have me on their hit list!

First thing, data collection methods have to be improved by the MRSL (Media Research and Survey Limited) in order to accurately capture data on how the different target demographics i.e. Generation Y [14 to 28 years] and Generation X [29 to 45 years old] presently consume media, as phone calling and paper based surveys are being biased by Social Control related issues.

Young people may be choosing not to answer questionnaires for fear of the “free internet” access being cut off, nicely proffered in my blog article entitled “MRSL Survey and how to capture unbiased statistical data”.

Which was an answer to Media Practitioner Marcia Forbes published article “'Jamaica to the World' via the Internet”, published Thursday March 25th 2010, by Marcia Forbes, The Jamaica Observer.

Summarizing my referenced blog post, which may be a bit onerous to read; the VERY same Social Media that Media Practitioner Marcia Forbes audited after she went bonkers and joined Twitter as stated in her article “Twitter, Twits and Tweets”, published Thursday 22nd April 2010 by Marcia Forbes, The Jamaica Observer will be the best method to conduct these surveys to, ironically, find out if and why the Internet is killing Radio among Generation Y [14 to 28 years], apparently afraid to “talk up de ting dem” about their ACTUAL Internet usage.

Once MRSL completes the above required survey, and gives them a reward for their troubles, (cash to my PayPal Account would be nice!) it will quantify the obvious, that being the fact that Wireless and Wired Broadband Internet is killing Radio.

This when compared to Wired Broadband Internet from Triple Play Providers such as Cox Communications, Comcast and local Triple Play Providers such as FLOW losing customers to streaming over the very same Broadband Internet Service that they provide as state in my blog article entitled “Telecom Providers, 100MBps Broadband and the Broadcasting Commission - Redemption Song” as well as the most recent article on the phenomenon of cord-cutting entitled “US Cable TV bleeds subscribers as online grows”, published Sunday November 28 2010 by AFP, Yahoo! News.

Throw in LIME TV eminent Christmas 2010 launch as stated in the article “The people and ideas behind Mobile TV”, published Friday, November 12, 2010 BY EDWARD TAYLOR, The Jamaica Observer as well as on my blog article entitled “LIME TV and Broadcasting - The Andromeda Strain and My Science Project”.

Then we can all start holding hands and singing “When the roll is Called up Yonder”, and offering up prayers and supplantations to the Television Gods, praying for the revival of free-to-air Broadcasting, as any service with video games is sure to kill Radio and Television!

Thus, on this basis, it would also be in the best interest of Local Radio Broadcasters to also go DSO (Digital Switch Over) and transmit their programming using HD Radio, much as it the case in the United States of America, which dual broadcasts their Analog Radio in HD, with features galore.

Aside from the obvious issues of Spectral efficiency that would be achieved, Local Radio Broadcasters, by virtue of being licensed, stand to benefit from the structured auction of their spectrum to Telecom Providers for the purpose as suggested above.  

This is as the demand for Data Services, based on the collected statistical data from the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) as stated in the article “Telecom revenue hit record in September Q” published Wednesday July 7th 2010, The Jamaica Observer, suggests that Broadband subscribers, assumedly including both Wired and Wireless, have surpassed the hundred thousand (100,000) mark, increasing by 16.5% to 109,790 subscribers.

With other reports suggesting 17% broadband penetration as stated in the article “Internet penetration lagging broadband speed”, published Wednesday, September 22, 2010 by CAMILO THAME Business co-ordinator, The Jamaica Observer this can only improve towards 2015 AD, the Year of DSO for Jamaica albeit 2012 is more likely.

Streaming via downloadable apps on smart phones as stated in the article “Smart phones Make Mobile Radio Sing”, published July 12, 2010, 11:49PM EST by Olga Kharif, BusinessWeek - DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT.

Even embedding FM Radio in smart phones has its technical difficulties as stated in the article “Broadcasters defend push for mandatory FM tuners”, published August 27, 2010 4:00 AM PDT by Declan McCullagh, CNET News - Politics and Law leaving Radio Stations vulnerable to the vagaries of the adoption rate of touch screen smart phones in Jamaica.

The same Jamaica which is still in love with Blackberry’s and are not yet ready to graduate to the higher prices, more complex smart phone, which many may not even be “smart” enough to use, despite the training wheels provided by Blackberry in the form of the Blackberry Torch 9700 as stated in the article “Blackberry Torch already being sold at discount”, published August 17, 2010 8:14 AM PDT by Don Reisinger, CNET News - The Digital Home.

With such a hit-and-miss culture with smart phones, a transition to an independent HD Radio Network is necessary, possibly with listeners having to purchase a HD compliant Radio as will be the case with Television by 2015AD as stated in the article “TV purchase alert: In the Digital Age, HD is king, says regulator”, published Sunday November 21, 2010 The Jamaica Gleaner.

This will not necessarily save Radio, as per Media Practitioner Marcia Forbes article entitled “What fate for Radio in Jamaica?”, posted Monday, March 15, 2010,  By Marcia Forbes, but merely guarantee spectral efficiency and its survival as a relevant medium for communication.

What Radio needs to beat the Internet is more Ragashanti-esque, Social Media and Generation Y slanted programs if they wish to draw audiences in the Generation Y category. No equation required! 

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