Audio News for October 15, 2010

by | Oct 15, 2010 | Audio News | 0 comments

CEA Blasts NAB for Wanting to Make FM Tuners Government-mandated in Cellphones – The concept was introduced by the National Assn. of Broadcasters as part of its negotiations with the RIAA (Recording Industry Assn. of America) over performance rights royalties in the U.S. market. In most countries musicians and record labels are compensated as well as the songwriters/music publishers, but in the U.S. only the latter are paid. Congress has asked the NAB and RIAA to work out a compromise. It looks like stations will be paying about 1% of their net revenue to the music industry, but at the same time the NAB has requested that FM tuners become mandatory in all cellular devices.

CEA CEO Gary Shapiro says “…we will vigorously oppose any effort to force manufacturers by legislative fiat to include legacy technology in devices.”  He further says “…the advent of broadband-enabled devices affords broadcasters and manufacturers a unique opportunity to work collaboratively to ensure that consumers enjoy all the benefits of new technology.” The radio industry hopes to better compete with streaming services such as Pandora by increasing the number of mobile phones with FM tuners. The NAB touts the public safety benefits of having free and local radio service in mobile devices in the case of a disaster. The iPod has led the market while being largely radio-free, but Apple just added an FM tuner to its Nano iPod line.

CableCARD Rule Changes – The FCC voted this week to update the CableCARD rules that Pay-TV providers must follow to give consumers a choice in how they receive multichannel video. CEA CEO Gary Shapiro said in a statement that the CEA applaud the FCC action. They properly recognized that free market competition did not exist for consumers to buy or rent set-top boxes and other video navigation devices, and that consumers will now have a greater choice in how they view video in their homes. The card is also easy to self-install by the user. He said the stage is now set for real competition and further innovation.

Netflix Goes From Two-Channel to Surround Using Dolby Digital Plus – Netflix – the world’s leading Internet subscription service for movies and TV shows (15 million members in U.S. and Canada) – will begin next week to deliver 5.1-channel surround sound for streamed movies and TV shows that have it, using Dolby Digital Plus technology. The latest Sony PlayStation 3 will be the first consumer electronics device to support Dolby Digital Plus on movies streamed from Netflix, and more devices will be added soon. Dolby Digital Plus supports up to 7.1 channels of surround, allowing consumers to enjoy premium-quality audio from broadcasts, streaming and downloaded media, and Blu-ray discs. It has been adopted by many of the world’s leading broadcasters, TV and set-top-box makers, and device makers to provide consumers with full digital surround sound. Tens of millions of TVs, set-top-boxes, Blu-ray players, AV receivers and mobile phones have shipped with Dolby Digital Plus – which is an enhancement of standard Dolby 5.1 on DVDs but not as hi-res as the lossless Dolby TrueHD used on some Blu-ray discs. However all such devices in use now lack the ability to handle streaming Dolby Digital Plus. It is hoped that there will eventually be an accessory decoder box offered, but none was mentioned in the news release.

New Google and Apple TV Services May Hurt TV Stations and PVR Vendors –  Sony has launced four new TVs and a Blu-ray deck running Google TV software, allow users to access content from online web sites. Apple may also shortly launch a full TV range including home entertainment software similar to what iPods and iPads include. There are many variables, but it appears Google and Apple are the front-runners in owning the living room experience. Only a tiny percentage of viewers still watch only free OTA (over-the-air) TV – nearly everything else must be paid for.

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