updated 03:50 pm EDT, Mon September 29, 2008
Bill Requires HD Radio
Democratic Congressman Edward Markey on Monday submitted a bill that would potentially require all satellite radios to also include a competing standard. The Radio All Digital Channel Receiver Act (PDF) would require that Sirius XM and any other satellite radio provider also providing AM/FM tuning also support at least some form of land-based digital radio, effectively mandating the use of iBiquity Digital's HD Radio format. The move would attempt to reinsert a clause ruled out of the FCC's Sirius XM merger approval which would have asked for a similar provision before the merger could be approved.
The move is known to be prompted by worries from Markey, iBiquity Digital and others that Sirius XM will have a practical monopoly on digital radio by becoming the only choice for digital broadcasts when a device isn't exclusively meant for satellite service.
Critics have charged both in a request for comments and elsewhere that such a requirement would effectively prop up iBiquity Digital and terrestrial radio networks by making their business models legally necessary.
It has also driven technical concerns from automakers and portable media player enthusiasts, who respectively claim that requiring HD Radio and its kind would unnecessarily raise the price of radios by as much as $15 and could make certain devices difficult or impossible to make with current technology, such as a handheld satellite radio that also uses analog radio. Most such devices often have limited space for tuners.
If passed, the bill would require the FCC to set aside any complaints and implement the requirement within approximately six months after the law takes effect. [via Ars Technica]