Radio’s Digital Dilemma
Broadcasting in the Twenty-First Century
Routledge – 2014 – 188 pages
Radio's Digital Dilemma is the first comprehensive analysis of the United States’ digital radio transition, chronicling the technological and policy development of the HD Radio broadcast standard. A story laced with anxiety, ignorance, and hubris, the evolution of HD Radio pitted the nation’s largest commercial and public broadcasters against the rest of the radio industry and the listening public in a pitched battle over defining the digital future of the medium. The Federal Communications Commission has elected to put its faith in "marketplace forces" to govern radio’s digital transition, but this has not been a winning strategy: a dozen years from its rollout, the state of HD Radio is one of dangerous malaise, especially as newer digital audio distribution technologies fundamentally redefine the public identity of "radio" itself.
Ultimately, Radio’s Digital Dilemma is a cautionary tale about the overarching influence of economics on contemporary media policymaking, to the detriment of notions such as public ownership and access to the airwaves—and a call for media scholars and reformers to engage in the continuing struggle of radio’s digital transition in hopes of reclaiming these important principles.
"Anderson provides a detailed and shocking look into how compliant regulators and a few well-connected private actors can conspire to thwart both the market and the public interest. This is a startling and well-documented indictment of an epic failure of our media system that should enrage both liberals and conservatives alike." -Ted M. Coopman, San Jose State University, USA
"Anderson’s text elucidates an important, and overlooked, policy fight. Largely out of sight of the public, and over an extended period of time, broadcast conglomerates and related interests pushed to replace our current open broadcast system with one based on a technically deficient, proprietary standard, that they controlled. Anderson has forensically assembled this story, showing us how obscure policy battles over technical standards can have long-reaching impacts on the media that act as conduits for so much of our culture." - Andrew Ó Baoill, Cazenovia College, USA
1. Identifying Radio’s Digital Dilemma 2. The Developmental Trajectory of U.S. Digital Radio 3. The Fundamental Detriments of IBOC-DAB 4. FCC "Deliberation" of HD Radio 5. The Troubled Proliferation of HD Radio 6. Tweaking an Imperfect System 7. HD Radio’s Murky Future 8. Confronting Radio’s Digital Dilemma
John Nathan Anderson is an Assistant Professor and the Director of Broadcast Journalism in the Department of Television and Radio at Brooklyn College, City University of New York. Formerly a radio journalist, he’s been working in the fields of media policy and activism for nearly two decades.