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U.S. IBOC transmission not allowed, say CBC, CAB


OTTAWA - A recent U.S. radio regulatory initiative could have a dramatic impact on the ability of Canadian radio stations to be heard, says a letter from the Canadian Association of Broadcasters and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to Industry Canada.

The August 4th letter to Deputy Minister Suzanne Hurtubise, signed by CAB president and CEO Glenn O'Farrell and CBC president and CEO Robert Rabinovitch, notes that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has authorized its FM and AM radio stations to implement digital radio using an in-band on-channel (IBOC) hybrid signal.

While AM IBOC operations are so far confined to daytime hours, according to the letter, this technology is now being tested for night-time use and, if deployed at night, "it is very likely that the transmission of AM IBOC signals from the United States will be harmful to the reception of Canadian AM signals over Canadian territory, more particularly at night," says the letter.

Moreover, "it is our opinion that transmission of IBOC signals, either on the AM or FM band, is not currently permitted by the international and bi-lateral agreements that both Canada and the United States have ratified."

The risk is high, says the letter, that should night time AM IBOC signals go to air, it would create a wave of frequency interference all over the country, especially where single transmitters cover wide rural areas.

The letter strongly urges Industry Canada to take up their cause and bring the matter to the attention of the FCC. "Considering the importance of this issue, we feel that it is necessary for Industry Canada to notify the FCC that the authorization of AM IBOC transmissions, especially at night, will very likely result in harmful interference to Canadian signals. We also consider that it is important to emphasize that such transmissions are not in accordance with the current international and bi-lateral agreements and, therefore, should not be authorized by the FCC unless and until these agreements are amended."

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