CJSA-FM launches Canada’s first HD Radio station


HD RadioOn 1/14, Canadian Multicultural Radio launched HD Radio on its CJSA-FM Toronto. In the presence of a member of the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunication Commission (CRTC) and an executive of iBiquity Digital, CMR launched Canada’s first HD multicast programming in Tamil at 4pm. January 14th, fittingly was, “Thai Pongal”, a Tamil festival that signifies gratitude for what may have come and hopes for bountiful more to come; celebrated as the harvest festival. This experimental service is now live on 101.3 FM HD2.

Commissioner Raj Shoan, a full-time member of the CRTC, designated for the Ontario region, officially launched the programming on-air. Speaking at the ceremony, he said, “HD Radio offers interesting possibilities for the entire Canadian Radio broadcasting industry. On the one hand, it enables radio stations such as 101.3 FM to offer listeners new features including higher quality sound, more programming and new information such as the artist, song title or traffic information and on the other hand, it makes better use of the radio spectrum through the use of separate channels on the same frequency.

Speaking of CMR’s move to pioneer the testing of the HD technology with dedicated programming, Shoan added, “With the launch of its Hybrid Digital Radio programming the Canadian Multicultural Radio is beginning an exciting yearlong experiment with innovative technology. CMR’s experiment with HD Radio will enable the CRTC to assess to what extent Canadians may gravitate towards this new technology and whether regulation should be developed to facilitate its possible adoption by other radio broadcasters.”

Speaking at the event, Peter Brady, VP/Marketing for iBiquity Digital, said that the advent of HD Radio technology in Canada was long coming and that with CMR’s bold move to adopt the technology in a vibrant market such as Toronto only makes the future brighter for HD Radio in Canada:  “iBiquity is sincerely grateful for what [CMR] has done, [and] for the investment you have made. It is no small achievement to do what you have done.”

Said Stanislaus Antony, the Chairman and CEO of CMR: “My team and I wanted to mark 2014, our 10th year of broadcast, with something special, innovative and trendsetting. That’s when we boldly decided to give HD Radio technology a shot. It is a very proud moment for all us here at CMR! To think that out of some 675 commercial radio stations operating in Canada, CMR is the first to launch additional HD programming gives me immense pride. We are gathered here today to mark this day in history.”

The CRTC approved CMR’s request to experiment with HD Radio Technology to its fullest capability last summer. In addition to the 24 hour Tamil service launch on HD2, the station intends to launch Hindi and Urdu services combined on HD3 and Punjabi service on HD4. The station has also offered to help the CRTC with its findings on how HD Radio technology unfolds in its service market. CMR offers programming 25 languages to over 20 ethnic communities.

A year ago The Broadcaster Traffic Consortium (BTC), Nautel and iBiquity partnered with Corus Media and Entertainment in Toronto to begin testing HD Radio-delivered traffic data on CING-FM 95.3, Hamilton, Ontario, a suburb to the south of Toronto. Industry Canada approved an experimental license for the testing.

RBR-TVBR observation: The Eureka-147 DAB system in Canada was shut down in 2010, due to lack of interest and lackluster receiver sales (it’s still in Europe). With CJSA and CING-FM both implementing the service in different capacities, the future looks bright for HD Radio in Canada—especially considering how easy it would be to order cars with HD Radio in the dash. Retailers would jump on board too if more stations started adding the technology.

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Carl has been with RBR-TVBR since 1997 and is currently Managing Director/Senior Editor. Residing in Northern Virginia, he covers the business of broadcasting, advertising, programming, new media and engineering. He’s also done a great deal of interviews for the company and handles our ever-growing stable of bylined columnists.
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