Monday, July 31, 2006

NAB Demands Recall of Non-Compliant Radios


Today, the National Association of Broadcasts (NAB) demanded a recall of non-compliant radios. See the full letter here. Previously, NAB tested several satellite radios and FM modulators and found most of them out of compliance. Sirius (SIRI) had two radios on the list: the S50 and the Sportster Replay, both of which were well over the limit. XM (XMSR) had one wired FM modulator on the list, which was in compliance. NAB is also using it's political muscle.

Sirius' biggest problem might be the FMOut signal. Sirius continues to use a standard jack even with its latest StarMate. The FCC does not permit the use of a standard jack for the transmission of the FM signal. Users are already discovering ways to circumvent weak FM transmitters. Some are modifying their radio such that they can transmit for blocks or even miles, effectively becoming broadcasters. Many Stern fans are evangelists and want to get the word out or be as disruptive as possible. This is the source of many complaints. In addition, Sirius recently filed a report with the SEC stating that they intentionally modified their receivers to broadcast strong FM signals than allowed.

Although Sirius was the likely cause of the recent FCC investigation, XM was the first one hit by it. XM's problem resulted by failing to use the proper test procedure. XM uses a different technique that requires a different testing procedure, which they were unaware. XM made minor changes to their radio and had them re-certified by a different testing firm. The FCC eventually dismissed the re-certifications after performing their own tests. Their testing procedure was apparently different from the testing firm's procedure. Both Sirius and XM are now working with the FCC to understand how the FCC will test the radios that use the vehicle wiring as a radiator.

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