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AUDIOPHILE AUDITION - web magazine for music, audio & home theater

May 19, 2004

Satellite vs. Terrestrial Radio - In this month’s Radio World newspaper Contributing Editor Skip Pizzi examined the relationship between the two new satellite radio providers and traditional terrestrial radio stations. He compared and contrasted their situation to the ongoing experience of the TV industry. In radio he finds an essentially level playing field due to most satellite radios also including AM/FM reception. However, changing from satellite to standard radio requires switching bands - an extra step not required with TV channels. He points out that the two providers differ in that standard radio broadcasters want to attract the most listeners to a single channel in a given market, whereas satellite radio is less interested in how many listeners each of their channels attracts as they are in the satisfaction of their paid subscribers to all various audio services they provide. The primary target customers with standard radio are their advertisers, whereas satellite radio primarily targets the listeners who pay the monthly subscription fee. Of course terrestrial radio doesn’t have to bother itself with listeners requiring expensive new hardware, as with satellite reception. (Except for those investing in DAB receivers for the new terrestrial digital services.) Most listeners don’t choose satellite radio because of improved digital reception (although it’s really nice to be forever free of multipath distortion!), but because it offers a huge variety of uniquely available programming. The article also mentions that both satellite services (XM Radio and Sirius) have begun offering localized news and weather in some major cities, and that a terrestrial company, Entercom, has been running anti-satellite radio spots which sound like negative political campaign ads.

Entertainment Devices Convergence Glitches - A writer for the Christian Science Monitor decided to see what all the convergence buzz was about and test-drove a $999 Gateway Family Room Media Center. He was stimulated by recent surveys showing that 39% of PC households would like to view their photos on any TV or PC, 33% want to download movies and share them among the video devices they own, and 31% would like to download music and share it among their audio devices in the house. The first glitch he discovered was that his 27-inch TV was too old to have either component or S-Video inputs required by the Media Center PC. He concluded that adding a new piece of electronics is like getting a new carpet which shows up how drab the rest of your furniture and drapes look. He next discovered that he required either an expensive wired networking installation in his home or else setting up a wireless network and connecting it to the TV and its sources. He found that even after a friend helped him get the wireless system working it would cut out from time to time for unknown reasons. He concluded “We aren’t there yet - but I can see how media centers are going to be a lot of fun once a few more hassles are eliminated.”

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