Americans will soon have access to improved digital radio broadcasts – both in terms of sound quality and choice of stations – after the Federal Communications Commission approved the technology of iBiquity Digital, a group backed by industry giants Clear Channel Communications, Infinity Broadcasting and ABC Radio.

To receive the higher quality transmissions – which iBiquity claims deliver CD sound quality on FM broadcasts and regular FM quality on AM – consumers will have to purchase special radios which will not be available for retail sale until 2003.

However, digital broadcasting is expected to begin this year in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle and Miami. The company wants to see 70 stations fitted with the necessary transmitting equipment – estimated to cost $75,000 (€76,121; £48,078) each – by year-end, though it concedes that 30 to 50 is more likely.

Further distribution will be provided by Ford Motor Company, which will fit digital radios into its cars.

Data sourced from: Houston Chronicle; additional content by WARC staff