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FM Multicasts Expand To Top 100 Markets

Orlando, Fla. — Radio stations in 15 more markets have begun broadcasting a digital HD-Radio signal, bringing the number of HD-Radio markets to 188 and bringing HD-Radio multicasting to the top 100 markets, the HD Digital Radio Alliance announced.

The 60 stations that went digital in the 15 markets are all FM stations, and all launched FM multicasting.

With the latest announcement, the number of radio stations that have converted to HD Radio grew to more than 1,303, and the number of multicasting FM stations grew from more than 580 to more than 650.

At the end of 2005, only 675 AM and FM radio stations were broadcasting digital signals alongside their analog signal, and only 66 FM stations offered multicast channels. At the beginning of this year, about 1,100 stations were broadcasting HD-Radio signals, and of those, 504 FM stations were multicasting. The radio industry remains on course to hit almost 2,000 by the end of 2007, the Alliance added. About 13,500 radio stations operate in the United States.

The latest milestones were reached in less than 18 months after top U.S. radio broadcasters formed the alliance in December 2005 to accelerate the rollout of HD Radio and coordinate the rollout of multicasting. With multicasting, stations broadcast two to three channels simultaneously, enabling terrestrial FM radio to increase the diversity of music formats available in a given market to radio listeners to better compete with the satellite radio and other competition for consumers’ ear time.

The 15 new multicast markets are:

Gainesville, Melbourne, Daytona Beach and Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla.; Wichita, Kan.; Charleston, S.C.; Madison, Wis.; Greenville, N.C.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Columbia, S.C.; Tri Cities, Tenn.; Des Moines, Iowa; Spokane, Wash.; Lexington, Ky.; and Mobile, Ala.

HD-Radio broadcasts in these markets can be heard on more than 50 home and car audio products, up from only one HD-Radio receiver in December 2005.

In the OEM car market, HD Radio will be an option on 55 vehicle models in the next 18 to 24 months, the Alliance noted. BMW already offers HD Radio as a factory-installed option across its entire product line, and Jaguar and Hyundai will offer it in their premium sedans scheduled for introduction in 2008.