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HD Radio Prospects Pick Up With Cox

Cox Radio, the third largest U.S. radio broadcaster in revenue, joined Clear Channel and Entercom in announcing aggressive HD Radio rollouts.

Cox said it will upgrade 80 percent of its 78 AM and FM stations over the next four years to digital. The company’s stations are clustered in 18 markets, including Atlanta, Houston, Miami, Orlando, San Antonio and Tampa. It currently offers digital radio in Atlanta and Miami.

Earlier this month, Entercom Communications, the fourth largest radio broadcaster in revenue, announced plans to roll out digital broadcasting to 80 percent of its more than 100 AM and FM stations during the next four years. Entercom’s stations are located in the top 75 markets, mostly in the top 50 markets, said a spokesman. Most of the company’s stations are FM. The first Cox stations to make the digital transition will be in Boston, Seattle, Denver and Portland, Ore.

Entercom’s announcement came shortly after the late July announcement by Clear Channel, the nation’s largest broadcaster, that it will convert 1,000 stations to digital broadcasting over a two-year to four-year period and that it plans to offer HD Radio in 95 percent of its top 100 markets within three years. Clear Channel has more than 110 million listeners each week.

“With the technology now ready for broad-based deployment, we are stepping up our efforts to provide digital radio to our listeners,” said Cox’s president Robert F. Neil. “Digital radio not only brings CD quality sound to our listeners free of charge, but also enables us to deliver other valuable services such as traffic updates, sports scores, artist information and song titles to name a few.”