Digital Radio

Digital radio, also known as HD Radio or IBOC (In-Band, On-Channel) radio, is a new system designed to bring digital broadcasting to the existing FM band. Normal FM, or analog, is what your radio broadcasts now. Like digital television, you must buy a special receiver to listen to digital radio (and it's not the same as Internet radio or satellite radio). Unlike the digital television transition, digital radio is voluntary for broadcasters, so only some stations have digital signals, and almost no one listens yet.

There are serious problems with the way the FCC has introduced digital radio. First, only big broadcasters have access to this technology, because only those who already have stations can get digital channels (and only the larger companies can afford them). This means that big media companies are getting richer off the radio spectrum and no one else benefits. And because the system hasn't worked well as designed, the FCC authorized an increase in allowable power levels, which means that digital radio may start to cause real interference problems with other stations.

Prometheus has advocated for a digital transition that expands community media access, and we've argued against a digital power increase that threatens analog radio and gives away new spectrum rights to big broadcasters. We're continuing to fight for a brighter digital future; read more below.

Background Reading