It's on: HD radio gets FCC blessing

We have to wonder what the mood is over at NAB headquarters right now, in light of the fact that the FCC has finally given HD radio -- the promised savior of terrestrial broadcasting -- the green-light. On the one hand, radio stations will now be able to offer to multiple streams of higher-quality, digital programming to the commuting public -- good news, indeed -- but on the other hand, XM and Sirius now have another example to wave in front of regulators who will argue that their proposed merger stifles competition. The new sources of revenue, however, combined with a technology that is said to be superior to satellite delivery, probably outweigh any potential effects on the merger, meaning that Clear Channel and friends are likely partying it up as we speak. As you probably know, HD radio allows stations to efficiently divide their spectrum in as many as five (and possibly more) streams, a move which advocates hope will increase programming diversity but detractors fear will just bring more of the same crap. Regardless of whether the increased capacity brings about more non-Top 40 stations, though, this ruling is definitely a plus for consumers; because even if the new content is just as lame as the current stuff, at least we gadgetheads now have an excuse to go out and buy a whole slew of fresh gear.

Update: Just to clear things up, yes, certain stations have been broadcasting in HD for some time now, but those were special cases requiring FCC permission. This new ruling allows all certified terrestrial broadcasters to begin the switch over to digital, meaning that we'll soon see a nationwide rollout.