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LPFM Stations Seek Technical Upgrades

Mon, 11/25/2019 - 12:22
The studio of WXOX, a low-power FM in Louisville, Ky., features a mural by Wilfred Sieg of the Art Cartel. WXOX is among the stations that filed comments to the FCC.

The low-power FM service in the United States has grown to more than 2,100 stations. Advocates say it has matured to the point that those stations should have an opportunity to improve their signals through technical upgrades.

The FCC is considering a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would, among other things, allow for more widespread use of directional antennas by LPFM stations. Currently the rules allow LPFMs to use directional antennas under special circumstances, including as part of a second adjacent waiver request or for LPFMs licensed for public safety purposes. The commission is also proposing to allow LPFMs to use boosters.

The approximate service range of a 100 watt LPFM station is about 3.5 miles, according to the FCC.

DIVERSITY & LOCALISM

Advocates say the commission was understandably conservative at the outset of the service almost two decades ago, authorizing small coverage areas with very low powers and height, and imposing strict transmitter requirements. Now, they say, LPFM deserves additional engineering options to improve reception. 

Commission Chairman Ajit Pai wrote in a blog post this year: “When the commission launched the service in 2000, it designed LPFM requirements to be simple. The purpose was to make it easier for non-profit organizations with limited engineering expertise and small budgets to readily apply for, construct and operate stations service highly localized areas.”

Pai said the NPRM includes changes to increase flexibility while maintaining interference protection and the core LPFM values of diversity and localism.

The proposed rules would not be “a carte blanche for all LPFMs” to use directional antennas, said Michi Bradley, founder of REC Networks and an LPFM advocate who has pushed for rule changes.

Bradley said the main beneficiaries of the change would be a handful of LPFM stations near the Mexican border. Currently, stations within the Mexican border strip zone, within 125 kilometers, are limited to 50 watts ERP non-directional, Bradley said. 

[Read more stories from the Nov. 20 issue of Radio World]

“The proposal would add a third category to allow LPFM stations to use DAs to limit power to 50 watts or less along radials that are within 125 km of the border and to allow the full 100 watts in directions away from Mexico,” Bradley said.

Another aspect of the proposed directional antenna changes is to permit, in certain cases, the use of composite directional antennas, as opposed to off-the-shelf models. 

“This would give LPFM stations more flexibility to use antennas, such as the Nicom BKG-77, which are not listed in the FCC’s standard pattern list, as well as use multiple skewed antennas in order to maximize coverage while still protecting second adjacents or meeting international agreements.”

The FCC in its NPRM stated that it doesn’t think the use of DAs will be widespread: “We believe that directional antennas, whether off-the-shelf or custom models, will not be used widely in the LPFM service due to their higher cost and limited necessity. Nevertheless, the use of such antennas could, if properly engineered, provide significant flexibility to LPFM licensees subject to international agreements and to those that must relocate in areas with few available transmitter sites.” 

The FCC is also contemplating a new definition for LPFM minor changes to include those that involve overlapping 60 dBu contours of the station’s existing and proposed facilities or a move of 5.6 km or less.

In addition, the proposal would allow LPFM stations to retransmit their signals over FM booster stations without a waiver in order to fill in terrain-associated gaps in service. REC believes very few LPFM stations would benefit from having FM boosters but that in some cases it may help fill in certain gaps in challenged coverage areas.

EXPERT ASSISTANCE

A Radio World review of comments filed through early November showed many commenters urging the FCC to adopt the technical upgrades. 

Steven White, director of Triangle Access Broadcasting, Inc., said the FCC’s original goal of installing simple technical rules made sense under the circumstances.      

“What became apparent was that, while the LPFM rules are comparatively simple, expert assistance was still required for many organizations that just don’t happen to have the right balance of people within themselves,” he wrote.

“If technical services are required anyway, then it is only proper to make the fullest use of those services and maximize the use of spectrum achieved with directional antennas.”

Veteran broadcast engineer Dana Puopolo wrote, “I support this proposal because it is well past time the commission stop treating low-power FM stations as second-class citizens. No other class of full-power FM station, translator or booster has the amount of technical restrictions as low-power FM stations do.

“For example, no other FM facility is restricted to such a small operating power, use of directional antennas, certification requirements for transmitters, use of an arbitrary 12 kilometer buffer and other restrictions as low-power FM stations are. The low-power FM service has become a mature service. It should be allowed the same rights (and responsibilities) as any other FM service.”

[NJBA: FCC Must Protect Full-Power Stations]

The Inge Davidson Foundation, licensee of WZML(LP) Bryn Mawr, Pa., wrote in support. 

“For far too long, low-power FM stations have been at the bottom of the pecking order. No other class of full-power FM station, translator or booster has as many restrictions as low-power FM stations do,” said Linda Davidson, chairwoman of the foundation.

Mike Starling, president and GM of Cambridge Community Radio and WHCP(LP) in Cambridge, Md., expressed support for the “common-sense LPFM technical improvements outlined in MB docket No. 19-193.” Starling is a former director of technical operations at NPR.

VOICING CONCERNS

Other commenters, including full-power broadcasters, expressed concern about increased crowding in the FM band.

Representatives of Entercom Communications met with Chairman Pai recently and said that “certain modifications to the LPFM technical rules proposed in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking … could bring increased congestion to the FM dial leading to interference to full-power stations,” according to a public filing.

The New Jersey Broadcasters Association reminded the commission of the need to “adhere to the obligations of secondary broadcast services” as it proceeds.

“Specifically, the obligation that secondary services not interfere with full-power radio broadcast stations,” the NJBA wrote. “In addition, the need for further expansion and competition from LPFM services is dubious at best — given that the radio broadcasting industry has already been subjected to increased competition from the recently-enacted FM translator rule changes, digital media, satellite radio, podcasts, internet and other media sources.”

The National Association of Broadcasters told the FCC, “NAB is concerned that the proposal to allow LPFM licensees expanded use of directional antennas could cause interference to full-service FM stations. We further object to the commission’s proposal to grant a blanket authorization to LPFM operators to use boosters,” the association wrote.

[Buffer Compromise Would Boost FM Class C4]

In addition, NAB supported the commission’s rejection of proposals to allow LPFM stations to increase power above 100 watts, which was suggested in REC Networks’ petition. 

REC Networks has asked the FCC to reconsider 250-watt stations (LP-250). Under its proposal, Bradley said, LP-250 would only be available as an upgrade to already licensed LP-100 stations and be considered a minor change. In addition, any LPFM station proposing LP-250, FM translator relief or LPFM-to-LPFM short-spacing would be subject to an interference remediation rule similar to the one recently adopted by the FCC for FM translators.

“REC’s LP-250 proposal has been refined for many years, taking into consideration the input of NAB, EMF [Educational Media Foundation] and other opponents, and is statutorily sound,” Bradley contended.  

Numerous LPFM broadcasters, filing comments on the current petition, also brought up a desire for LP-250 to better serve local communities. 

[Is There an Afterlife for “Franken” FMs?]

Sharon Scott, president of WXOX(LP), a volunteer community radio station on 97.1 MHz in Louisville, Ken., commented on her support for the boost to 250 watts. 

“While reviewing LPFM rules, we hope you will consider increasing our maximum allotted power from 100 watts to 250 watts of effective radiated power at 100 feet height above average terrain. This modest increase would greatly improve our ability to deliver the diverse voices of our community to those whom it matters the most,” Scott wrote. 

Park Public Radio, which holds the license for KPPS(LP) in St. Louis Park, Minn., wrote, “Proposed rules do not substantially help the needs of incumbent LPFM broadcasters, and further reforms are necessary to address the unfavorable rules that LPFM operators face versus FM translator operators.” KPPS’ Jeff Sibert said he believes the commission should reconsider its tentative rejection of an LP-250 service. 

Comment on this or any story. Email radioworld@futurenet.com with “Letter to the Editor” in the subject field.

The post LPFM Stations Seek Technical Upgrades appeared first on Radio World.

Mayah Communications, Ferncast Announce Strategic Alliance

Mon, 11/25/2019 - 07:14

Mayah Communications has set a new marketing and development cooperation with Ferncast GmbH, the company announced on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

Detlef Wiese is CEO of Mayah.

Mayah, which has crafted ISDN and IP audio codecs, is now moving into cloud and virtual machine applications, something that Ferncast has experience with from their products based on aixtream technology.

“Mayah is bringing its experience and knowledge of the market, while Ferncast develops innovative broadcast solutions with their highly skilled developers team of PhD and Msc with a close relation to the RWTH Aachen University and the Institute of Communication Systems (IKS),” said Dr. Hauke Krüger, CEO of Ferncast.

“The Ferncast team is creative, dynamic  and experienced at the same time,” said Detlef Wiese, CEO of Mayah.

Dr. Hauke Krüger is CEO of Ferncast

“It is a pleasure to work with them and an exciting big step for the broadcasting industry. I am sure the customers will benefit from this cooperation and the resulting innovative professional audio solutions.”

The post Mayah Communications, Ferncast Announce Strategic Alliance appeared first on Radio World.

Community Broadcaster: “Google, Play Me Community Radio”

Fri, 11/22/2019 - 17:56

The author is membership program director of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. NFCB commentaries are featured regularly at www.radioworld.com.

For years, radio and digital have been considered rivals. Could there now be the start of a new alliance, particularly for community media?

The growth of smart speaker audiences has been covered exhaustively by many outlets. NPR and Edison Research issued a joint report in the summer. And, throughout noncommercial media, there is a quiet anxiety about the Echo Dots, Google Home Minis and other appliances … well, dotting many an American home. Why?

Attitudes about smart audio among radio professionals vary. Some people see smart speakers as an existential threat to radio. Other people see smart speakers as privacy encroachments they’d never use. But increasing numbers of Americans — well over 70 million units are in U.S. residences now — say smart speakers are essential devices they can’t live without. Such ubiquity indicates smart speakers are here to stay. Community radio only eschews adaptation at the steep cost of relevance.

[Read: Community Broadcaster: All-Podcast Radio]

Through apps like Stitcher, iHeart and TuneIn, most community radio stations are already present on smart speakers, thanks to integrations Apple, Amazon and Google have with such tools. But smart speaker innovation is fast, and the devices do far more than stream radio stations these days.

That’s why Google’s latest announcement could invigorate community media organizations nationwide. Many of these local institutions have fascinating local coverage, but do not have the technical muscle.

Enter Google with an intriguing proposal.

In a Nov. 19 press release, Google unveiled a new initiative using its Google Assistant framework, available through its Google Home family of smart speakers as well as its operating system built into millions of Android smartphones. When you tell your smart speaker or enabled smartphone to play the news, you will get a blend of news stories tailored to your location, user history and preferences. News stories are all just a few minutes long.

The game-changing endeavor has been led by public media veteran Brenda Salinas Baker. Many people know Salinas as a dynamic leader in the noncommercial media system. Her passion for an informed public and educational broadcasting has shone brightly for years. With a variety of commercial and noncommercial content providers baked in at launch, the commitment to providing users with a diversity of media choices shines just as brightly.

Ostensibly, you’ll get more local media served up to you, and far more options as this initiative grows. A Google blog post reads, “Over the past year, we worked with publishers from around the world … to think through the future of audio news. Together, we built a prototype that brings the artificial intelligence of Google News to the voice context of the Assistant.”

Here is where community radio may come in.

Google has opened up the platform for community and other media news producers to join in this endeavor. You can visit the Audio News experience form to submit a feed or feeds for consideration. Note the guidelines for publishers. Your news submissions must adhere to length and other guidelines. For community media organizations already producing local news, these rules should be easy to abide by.

There may be radio loyalists who would blanch at the suggestion that Google curating short-form, location-based audio for users is good news for stations. Yet the tide has been shifting on from-the-box radio listenership for awhile. Ultimately, community radio stations are the content and engagement business. The platform is less relevant to the audiences, and donors, we hope to create relationships with.

A virtually no-cost entry into the devices people already love with a company many trust is an offer that does not come around often. Are community radio stations willing to reshape their fortunes? Those decisions are now in the hands of our most courageous local media leaders.

The post Community Broadcaster: “Google, Play Me Community Radio” appeared first on Radio World.

Waves Audio Ships SuperRack Plug-in

Fri, 11/22/2019 - 17:15

Waves Audio has shipped Waves SuperRack plug-in processing software for live sound and broadcast engineers.

The software plug-in rack allows users run up to 128 audio channels through multiple instances of Waves plug-ins with low latency and customization options for adapting it to the user’s mixing workflow.

[Check Out More Products at Radio World’s Products Section]

SuperRack operates in a SoundGrid Audio-over-Ethernet network, processing audio on a dedicated SoundGrid DSP server, which moves plug-in processing from the host computer to an external DSP server in order to increase plug-in count, minimize latency, and enable the host and I/O devices to be situated far apart from each other.

According to Waves, users can run plug-ins in real time, customize a workspace with floating windows, set extended-scope snapshots and more.

Based around a multitouch-friendly graphic interface, SuperRack allows users to view and control multiple plug-in instances simultaneously and expand their workspace to up to four monitors. Up to a dozen of the user’s top priority plug-ins per snapshot can be called up in the Hot Plug-Ins panel, and all plugs’ parameters can be adjusted with a “Touch & Slide” fader — among other features

Info: www.waves.com

The post Waves Audio Ships SuperRack Plug-in appeared first on Radio World.

FCC Officially Proposes to Allow All-Digital on U.S. AM Band

Fri, 11/22/2019 - 15:11

The Federal Communications Commission likes the idea of giving U.S. stations on the AM band an option to turn off their analog transmissions and instead use only HD Radio. It recently said it would consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking recommending that change. Now the commission has officially done so.

The vote was unanimous, though at least one commissioner expressed concerns over the details of technical standards.

While the decision to issue the NPRM is not surprising, given the announcement of a couple of weeks ago, the vote seems to mark a significant advance toward an outcome where AM owners would have the digital choice. Only one U.S. radio station, owned by Hubbard Radio, operates full-time in all-digital, and does so under special temporary authority.

Advocates think having an all-digital option would be a boon to AM stations, many of which are troubled by economic challenges, band noise and lack of listener interest. Some see it as a logical addition to the AM revitalization effort, bringing benefits like metadata displays that most AM stations currently don’t have, in addition to better sound quality. And some observers, if fewer in number, wonder whether widespread migration to all-digital could substantially revitalize the AM band someday, making it prime spectrum real estate again.

Anecdotally, some critics have worried that a change that would make most existing receivers unable to hear a given radio station is premature, and/or they have voiced worries over the interference implications. That’s a touchy subject, given HD Radio’s less than stellar reputation among AM engineers, dating to the early days of putting hybrid digital on AM. The NPRM process should give more insight into what opposition may exist, if any, and from whom. It should tell us more about how AM owners themselves, big and small, come down on the idea.

“Many AM stations experience interference from electronic devices and other sources that affects audio quality,” the FCC stated in its announcement. “All-digital broadcasting offers AM broadcasters the potential to improve their signal quality and area of listenable coverage, as well as offer additional services that FM broadcasters currently offer, such as song and artist identification. It also holds the potential to allow AM stations to increase their programming options to include music formats.”

In the NPRM the FCC also proposes establishing operating parameters for all-digital stations, to minimize risk of interference; and it proposed adopting what it called the “industry-approved standard” for hybrid and all-digital broadcasting, meaning HD Radio.

[Read: Downs Hails FCC Announcement on All-Digital]

The National Association of Broadcasters applauded the move and said in its statement that “many” AM broadcasters are exploring the potential benefits.

Commissioner Michael O’Rielly has been particularly involved in issues involving the radio industry. Reacting to the vote, O’Rielly noted that he’d participated in a Texas Association of Broadcasters event with Bryan Broadcasting Corp.’s Ben Downs, an ardent supporter of AM revitalization and the person who petitioned the FCC to get going on this topic earlier this year.

“Assuming this item goes to final order, it remains to be seen whether digital AM signals will ever catch on with manufacturers, and more importantly, listeners, or serve as a significant factor in the band’s revitalization,” O’Rielly wrote after the vote.

“But our record clearly demonstrates that many in the industry would very much like to at least have a chance to test this approach, without having to obtain an experimental license. We need to give them that opportunity.”

O’Rielly did sound a note of caution. “When it comes to adopting specific technical standards, I do continue to have serious reservations regarding this approach, as the commission also adopted specific standards in the early 2000s. That said, on this and other questions, I will follow the comments received closely and look forward to seeing whether the option to transition to all-digital modes does, in fact, allow stations to have a greater and more effective reach among the listening public.”

Radio World explored the possible implications of this last March; read the ebook here.

 

The post FCC Officially Proposes to Allow All-Digital on U.S. AM Band appeared first on Radio World.

Trends in Consoles

Fri, 11/22/2019 - 10:54

The console has long been at the center of the radio broadcast studio. Today that paradigm is being challenged by new ways of thinking about audio, digital management and the user interface.

Radio World’s latest ebook asks:

What will the console of the future look like — if we use one at all? What do virtualization and cloud technology mean for console users and studio designers? What does the next generation of user interface look like?

And because a physical surface remains a key component at most stations, we also ask: What functions and features are being offered on new models that engineers should know about? How have AoIP technology developments been reflected in the look and function of physical surfaces? How vibrant is the marketplace for analog consoles? How long will manufacturers of analog consoles support them? What options are available in the market to support brands that are no longer manufactured?

Answering our questions are Mark Simpson, Jason Ornellas, Michael LeClair, Jay Tyler, Matt Lightner, Roberto Tejero, Marty Sacks, Clark Novak, Henry Goodman, Eric Hoppe, Tag Borland, Ben Palmer and Daniel Hyatt. Read it here.

The post Trends in Consoles appeared first on Radio World.

Rotella: Radio Performance Tax Does More Harm than Good

Fri, 11/22/2019 - 10:33

Here we go again!

Every Congress, a few well meaning, but misinformed legislators, appear to forget that they represent the people of their districts and not the foreign-owned record companies, and introduce in one form or another, the toxic performance royalty fee legislation commonly known as the “Performance Tax.”

It does no one any good at all, least of all the vast and diverse audiences our free-over-the-air broadcasters serve, and helps stifle the creative growth and opportunities for success of emerging artists, while destroying the best thing that ever happened to our multi-faceted, shared culture: the free-over-the-air delivery of all forms of entertainment, local news, EAS warnings, AMBER Alerts and most of all — music, to everyone, for free —no matter your social status or place of origin—radio!

Broadcast radio is enjoyed by almost everyone in America. For almost one hundred years, Americans have had a love affair with broadcast radio. And for good reason. Its bold, diverse, endearing, expandable, compact, ubiquitous, portable, lovable, affordable, and incontrovertible value as the most ubiquitous source of news, information and diverse entertainment available to everyone, and all for free.

No download charges, no subscription fees, and no license fees for the end user. It informs and binds us, it makes us laugh, it heals our wounds, it provides comfort and lifesaving information in times of crises, and oh yeah—it’s always on!

But the wrongheaded measures pushed by some who insist on squeezing every dime out of a broadcaster’s craft that they can would tamper with this timeless recipe for universal happiness.

[As Legislation Sits in Senate, Pirate Activity Continues in Force]

But much more horrifying; these Performance Royalty Taxes would destroy radio as we know it, and indeed harm everyone; artists, composers, communities, broadcasters and most sadly, everyone who enjoys radio today—about 300 million of our friends, family, neighbors and co-workers in America alone — the very constituents that these legislators are supposed to serve.

The good news is that support for the Local Radio Freedom Act supporting local radio continues to be strong in the House and the Senate. Currently, more than 200 Members of the House are on record in opposition to a performance tax.

New Jersey Broadcasters would like to express our deep appreciation to our Congressmen for their courageous leadership in previously opposing this unfair and wrongheaded tax. These Legislators are to be applauded for their early recognition and constant vigil over free-over-the-air radio’s service to the local communities they represent across the Garden State.

However, the NJBA was always convinced that a stealth attack on free over-the-air-radio was very possible, as we saw with this week’s introduction of two P-Tax bills in Congress.

In New Jersey, local radio is very, very important, and the prospect of a Performance Tax is akin to a Death Tax for broadcasters.

[Are Higher Music Licensing Costs Cued Up?]

The P-Tax would demand exorbitant royalty fees from broadcasters to pay for the a few record labels failed business models. And these new royalty fees would be on top of the billions the radio industry already pays in royalties to artists and songwriters through ASCAP, BMI and SEASAC! In these challenging economic times (or in any economic model), can any industry afford such confiscatory increases in net operating costs?) And the public would gain no return for the fees taken. No community service, no public announcements, no lifesaving Amber Alerts or EAS warnings. Nothing at all but making a few more millionaires and billionaires richer, and all at the public’s expense.

Nevertheless, the unavoidable result of the Performance Tax’s passage is much more than merely wreaking economic havoc on local radio stations. The passage of the bill would force the closing of a majority of local radio stations in New Jersey and across the country. To be sure, the prospect of enhanced opportunities for localism, diversity and outreach would be immediately hushed. Station groups and networks would be hurt, as well. Localism would be out the window and thousands in New Jersey would lose their jobs.

Moreover, local merchants, businesses, government officials, politicians, and community groups would be without a voice and an affordable, effective outlet to market their goods and services to their obvious customers and constituencies.

But this is all not about dollars; It is about common sense.

[Music, Royalties and Communities — Walking the Walk]

Much more horrific, the closure of these vital broadcast outlets across America would also decimate our Emergency Alert Warning System capabilities and pose a genuine threat to homeland security. And for what? So a few greedy foreign owned record companies can try to line their coffers with more American dollars, taking billions out of our economy? And worse, the move would directly or indirectly, wipe out hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States.

Moreover, a new oppressive Performance-Tax would hurt emerging artists who might not ever get their music on the air if stations have to pay a fee every time a new song is played.

Performing artists almost universally recognize the honest and incomparable value only broadcast radio air-play adds to their industry and business model. The record label’s recognition of the unparalleled promotional value of radio airplay contradicts statements made by recording industry representatives in Washington.

Our two industries have worked perfectly together for decades. Certainly, no artist would ever have an opportunity to become famous and successful absent their natural symbiotic partnership with free-over-the- air-radio! This symbiosis evinces the inescapable conclusion that both sides are benefiting. Why do you think local stations across the country are bombarded every day with sample CD’s MP3s, and “demos” by emerging artists (and seasoned veteran artists) begging station managers to play their new tune? It’s because broadcasters and artists genuinely “get it.” It’s how they sell records, (yes, vinyl records are making a comeback) CDs, downloads, video and merchandise.

Worse, the P-Tax’s foreseeable fractionalization of collaborative artists could hurt everyone associated with the creative process and diminish the very projects or songs they want to promote to be successful. It’s a recipe for collusion, litigation, division, unfairness, and disaster.

[NAB Adds Broadcast Essentials to Education Resources]

So you see, a new Performance Tax imposed on radio stations by record companies would only be biting the very hand that feeds them.

Equally disturbing is the disingenuous comparison of broadcast radio to internet providers and pay/subscription audio entertainment programming and fees paid by satellite radio. The proponents of this legislation want us all to be alike – just because Cable, Satellite and Internet services pay these royalties. But we are not alike!

Remember how radio stations helped warn and serve New Jersians crushed by SANDY? Well, New Jersians do. Free over-the-air radio & television are the only exclusively local media in existence! Did you ever see a pure-play or satellite station sponsor a little league team or do a food drive for a local charity?

Our cherished stewardship of the public airways is a public trust, and no industry is more publically spirited than broadcast. We have a very different mission, mainly to operate in the public interest; from the sustaining value we provide for the EAS for local emergency notification such as NJ Amber Alerts, and in response to community-wide emergencies like Superstorm Sandy, ice and snow storms, and other extreme weather hazards, to local news of community events and happenings in entertainment in an amazing variety of formats.

The internet and satellite applications referred to in mislabeled “equitable royalty fee” arguments (and the specious claim of pure-play “radio” designations) do not provide such essential public services, nor are they designed or equipped to do so.

[Does 5G Make Sense for Radio]

Compared to free radio’s 300 million listeners in the United States alone, satellite and subscription services reach less than 10% of radio’s ever expanding and diverse listening base. And radio’s service is free! Think about how many people in today’s tough economy can afford to pay to hear radio in the first place. (By the way, if anyone wants to see the effects of wrongheaded Performance fees, just look at the 30%+ increase in satellite’s monthly subscription fees for royalties and the “going dark” of some radio stations’ streaming audio on the net, due largely in part to the ever-increasing royalties charged to stream content.)

And to lay to rest the specious argument that the performing artists will get any money from the new Performance Tax, all you need to do is review the typical recording contract any new artist is “forced” to sign if they want to get their coveted “record deal.” It often provides for very little compensation to flow to the artist after record production and promotion costs are re-cooped.

More disturbingly, many artists complain about the notorious greed of the industry itself. In a surreal report released a few weeks after Michael Jackson’s death, it was revealed that the King of Pop told interviewers that it was “Time for artists to take a stand against record labels.” In a video interview filmed by director Brett Ratner, Michael Jackson “lashed out at record labels. Asked about his greatest lesson learned, Jackson replied: “Not to trust everybody in the industry. There are a lot of sharks, and record companies steal. They cheat. I have to audit them. And it’s time for artists to take a stand against them.” Bravo, Michael.

[50 Broadcast Groups to FCC: Remove Obsolete EEO Rules]

Finally, our great New Jersey Broadcaster Association represents much more than the radio and television industry in the Garden State. We also represent the vast and diverse audiences that our members so ably serve. We represent the people, and we stand with them. We respectfully ask all of Congress to the same. It’s the right thing to do.

So keep listening New Jersey! Let’s defeat this Performance Tax and let’s keep New Jersey radio free for all to enjoy!

The post Rotella: Radio Performance Tax Does More Harm than Good appeared first on Radio World.

O’Reilly Serves Trump for Thanksgiving

Thu, 11/21/2019 - 18:42

Bill O’Reilly got an Air Force One sit-down with Pres. Donald Trump earlier this month. The result? A special Thanksgiving holiday one hour special that will be available for affiliates of O’Reilly’s “The O’Reilly Update,” a 15-minute daily program that airs on almost 200 stations; syndicated by Key Networks. Of course, the program will be “yuge” and “The best ever.”

The post O’Reilly Serves Trump for Thanksgiving appeared first on Radio World.

Letter: Digital Radio Vs. 5G

Thu, 11/21/2019 - 18:00

The author is a broadcast technical author from Australia and has spent a lifetime in training technicians. Radio World welcomes opinions and points of view on important radio broadcast industry issues.

The article “Does 5G Make Sense for Radio?” written by Chris Weck, is an excellent in-depth piece, to which I would like to add some additional facts.

Please look at the Youtube video soon as they may take it down.

For 5G to get the high data rates boasted, the transmission frequency has to be the highest frequency used by the public with the exception of light. It is 39 GHz. At these frequencies the signals will not penetrate anything other than vacuum and air. Not buildings or terrain. Look at this promotional video made by Verizon https://youtu.be/jnyG2bliKCs It has been carefully crafted to not show the downsides of such a high frequency;

Example 1

How far does it travel? 915 m (ie. less than a kilometer!) Note that he had to increase the height to get line of sight back to the base station!

Example 2

Foliage. The video was shot on a fine day, he makes no mention of what happens when the foliage is wet or the absorption of the signal in heavy rain.

Example 3

Trick Shots. One example in the right locations cannot be generalized to say it will work everywhere. What about hills?

Example 4

Walls. Notice that the base station is visible through the window and is not far away and the signal goes around a wall to a modem/router, which then converts the signal Wi-Fi, meaning it can go through walls in a building. What proportion of houses already have this connection already? What would have happened if the tower was on the other side of the building?

Beamforming requires the signal to be delayed until the beam is in your direction, just like a lighthouse. This is in addition to the variable delay caused by a myriad of possible paths to the base station from the studio. The radio will have to store the incoming data until it receives all the time labelled packets to decode them in time order.

Some telcos are over promoting 5G to sell phones, which will spend nearly all of their life operating in 3G and 4G mode. Even if the telcos start in the 3.6 GHz band there is around 60 MHz per direction available and it is incapable of the speeds shown above.

The United Nations’ Telecommunications Union says “At the ITU World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19), global stakeholders are working towards building consensus on additional spectrum for IMT. Taking place in Egypt from Oct. 28 to Nov. 22, WRC-19 will consider new allocations to the mobile service and identification for IMT of frequencies within the following frequency ranges: 24.25 – 27.5 GHz, 31.8 – 33.4 GHz, 37 – 40.5 GHz, 40.5 – 42.5 GHz, 42.5 – 43.5 GHz, 45.5 – 47 GHz, 47 – 47.2 GHz, 47.2 – 50.2 GHz, 50.4 GHz – 52.6 GHz, 66 – 76 GHz, and 81 – 86 GHz.”

It can be seen that as the frequency rises a greater range of frequencies is available hence the greater the data speeds which can be achieved, remembering that that bandwidth has to be shared between the users of that repeater at that point in time. In addition the higher the frequency the greater are the propagation effects shown in examples 1–4 above.

With all of the above constraints in the 39 GHz band, they frequently show base stations on poles on street verges which will have to be much less than a kilometer apart all of which have to be connected to the network using fiber optic which could already be going to houses already. The competitor to this is fiber to the premises which can also achieve these speeds using multi-colored lasers, and it is not affected by the environment or even Fiber to the Curb is fast enough for most people.

Not mentioned is what happens if there is a power failure in the street or city. No emergency messages will be relayed to smart speakers or phones.

Weck, also mentions propagation losses. The line of sight losses in dry air are frequency dependent.

The frequency used is the center of each band. VHF Low is available in the Americas and Band 1 elsewhere in the world.

The radiated power is controlled by the antenna gain, the cable loss to the antenna and the transmitter power.

The higher the frequency the more that rain absorbs the signal as it does with blocked paths.

Remember that DAB+ and DRM are both capable of transmitting data such as images, multipage text and traffic data for vehicles as well as hyperlinks.

The huge losses for 5G makes a single transmitter/receiver site for the 100 km radius impossible, hence the need for thousands of low-powered transceivers on street poles.

Lastly broadcasting is essentially a one-way communication to all listeners, which can reliably transmit emergency messaging to the whole population.

Mobile/cell phone systems are designed to be a two-way communication to an individual, when used by a broadcaster, each listener has their own bidirectional channel, which is hardly used in the return direction. This is very wasteful of spectrum, hardware and electricity and will cost the listener dearly. In addition, 5G is incapable of reliably messaging the population in an emergency.

The post Letter: Digital Radio Vs. 5G appeared first on Radio World.

AKG Unveils Lyra Ultra-HD, Multimode USB Microphone

Thu, 11/21/2019 - 17:37

Harman Professional Solutions has announced its new AKG Lyra ultra-HD, multimode USB condenser microphone.

The AKG Lyra provides 4K-compatible, Ultra HD-grade 24-bit/192 kHz audio resolution, according to the company, in part due to its AKG Adaptive Capsule Array, which provides user-selectable capture modes optimized for different performance formats. As a USB mic, it offers “plug-and-play” operation, sports accessible controls, features an internal self-adjusting shockmount and built-in sound diffuser and more.

[Check Out More Products at Radio World’s Products Section]

The AKG Adaptive Capsule Array uses four capture modes to adapt to performance needs. Front mode isolates the target sound, rejecting unwanted sounds at the microphone back and sides. Front & Back mode captures and blends together sound equally on all sides, while Tight Stereo mode captures audio in true stereo with discrete left and right audio, providing separation for side-by-side interviews or panel discussions, or for recording instruments like drums or piano. Wide Stereo mode is intended for capturing audio with greater stereo separation, room ambience, and depth.

Lyra is compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices, and sports a “zero-latency” headphone jack and headphone volume knob that eliminates the short delay between speaking into a microphone and hearing the signal in the headphones, so creators can stay focused on their performance.

Info: www.akg.com

 

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User Report: StreamS Shines for Family Life Radio

Thu, 11/21/2019 - 14:32

TUCSON, Ariz. — At Family Life Radio, we have developed a strategy to put more resources into our online streaming platforms. We explored many fine products, providers, services and distribution methods; but in the end, we opted to host the online radio stream ourselves so that our product wouldn’t change if we changed provider. 

My colleague Michael Bové introduced me to a friend of his, John Schaab at Modulation Index, which is turning our vision into a reality.

When I saw that the StreamS encoder was Windows-based, I initially was turned off by it due to the notorious reputations of some Windows updates. However, upon further discussion, I learned that Modulation Index uses a professional specialized, slimmed-down version of Windows 10 called LTSC [Long Term Servicing Channel] with which they then utilize a script eliminating even more unnecessary functions, making it more of an OS skeleton to house their product. 

The StreamS encoder does not need the same maintenance as a typical computer would, which alleviates the problem of installing updates upon a reboot of the machine. 

[StreamS/Modulation Index Releases New Encoder]

After we got our demo unit, the configuration process was easy to accomplish with the documentation provided. There was minimal troubleshooting, and the expertise at StreamS-Modulation Index got us up and running quickly. 

We have a stream set up securely sending an HE-AACv2 HLSdirect stream at 32 kbps via FTPS to a cloud-based server we rent from VULTR and have leveraged Cloud Flare as our CDN. The changes we are implementing are not only driving our financial overhead down but this solution consumes less bandwidth for our listeners, allowing for them to listen longer on their mobile devices or favorite music platform. We are still in the process of launching our new product and we have never been more excited.

For information, contact John Schaab at Modulation Index at 1-940-206-7702 or visit www.streamindex.com.

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Montenegro’s Radio Difunzi Centar Selects Connect for Monitoring, Control

Thu, 11/21/2019 - 06:51

Radio Difunzi Centar, the national broadcaster for Montenegro, has tapped software tech company Connect to update it monitoring and control platform, specifically with the KYBIO Media system.

Radio Difuzni Centar control room in Montenegro, using KYBIO Media.

RDC has 80 sites across Montenegro that utilize a variety of transmitters and other equipment and was looking for a new software solution.

KYBIO is composed of a combination of modules that enable users to visualize in real time the statuses and key metrics of all sites and equipment in explorable dashboards; features real-time alarms, notifications, time-based reporting and root cause analysis; offers time management features, event resolution tracking and advanced control for remote actions over connected equipment with industry standard protocols; and provides aggregating data from multiple equipment and locations, which can then be transformed into visual insights and reports.

“We were impressed by the flexibility and scalability of KYBIO Media with its unique network scanning and auto-discovery features that greatly helped speed up the deployment time,” said Ljiljana Bracanovic-Nikolic, head of engineering at RDC.

“We really appreciate the software ability to handle large and complex data sets while presenting a simple and contextual user interface to our users.”

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NAB, Content Companies See Protection of C-Band Services as “Critical”

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 17:38

With a public C-band auction on the horizon, the National Association of Broadcasters and a number of companies that represent large purchases of C-band capacity are fully behind FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s commitment that any plan for the auction will “protect the services that are currently delivered using the C-band so they can continue to be delivered to the American people.”

That quote came from a letter sent by the NAB and the companies — which include Disney, CBS, NBCUniversal, Viacom, A&E, Univision, Fox and Discovery — to FCC Secretary Marlene Dortch in response to an ex parte submission about the C-band.

[Read: FCC Announces C-Band Repurposing Plan]

Pai announced earlier this week that plans are underway to launch a public auction for 300 MHz of the C-band spectrum for the development of 5G. That would leave 200 MHz for current C-band spectrum users to continue their operations, which has been used primarily by satellite operators for the delivery of video and audio content.

“The chairman’s recognition of the importance of maintaining a robust and reliable content distribution system in the upper 200 MHz of C-band spectrum, free of harmful interference and without proposals to introduce new terrestrial transmissions, whether on a fixed, mobile or flexible use basis, is a critical step in this proceeding,” the letter reads.

NAB and its co-signers also stressed the importance of working with the FCC to make the transition as effective as possible for satellite operators and their customers as they shift to less spectrum.

Other areas regarding the transition brought up in the letter touch on reimbursement costs; interference prevention, detection, mitigation and enforcement; maintenance of the service during the transition; and honoring of the commitments that the C-band satellite companies have made. NAB described these as “essential.”

“We are committed to working closely with the commission, the satellite industry and other stakeholders to ensure a successful transition,” the letter reads.

The full letter can be read on NAB’s website.

 

 

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Follow Podcasting’s Path — or Blaze It Yourself

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 17:24

Podcasting seems unstoppable these days. Forrester Research reports the new medium will be a $1 billion media market by this time next year — pretty incredible when you consider that the Interactive Advertising Bureau placed that same market at “only” $400 million in 2018. The expected 150% increase is, of course, due to the fact that more people are listening to podcasts than ever before. For example, Spotify noted its customers’ podcast consumption in 2018 rose 250% year-over-year, and Forrester claims adult podcast listeners spend more than three hours a week listening to online content. With the audience only growing, you can expect the number of podcasts, podcasters and advertisers to likewise mushroom in the coming year.

Navigating a marketplace that’s exploding like that is another story, however, but it’s one that will be crucial for many audio pros. The medium is still in a “wild west” phase where indie podcasts can blow up overnight, but listeners’ expectations are ramping up, too — homegrown shows with amateur audio quality are increasingly a thing of the past. This represents a great opportunity, however, not only for audio manufacturers, but also recording studios, engineers and other audio pros to provide podcast production services — or to start their own shows.

So how do you break into podcasting, record a great series and get a massive following? That’s a question we’ve been mulling a lot recently, as we’ve been curating a day of top podcast professionals who will discuss those topics and more at The Video Show, taking place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., Dec. 4–5.

The podcasting sessions are designed for all kinds of audio pros, from those thinking of delving into podcasting to seasoned veterans looking to up their game. Speakers will include studio design legend John Storyk of Walters-Storyk Design Group; Tim Albright of AVNation; Melissa Monte, host of the hit podcast “Mind Love”; Frank Verderosa, engineer of “Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast;” Michael Goodman, president of CEntrance; Jill Olmsted, American University professor and author; and author/former NPR and Audient podcast guru Eric Nuzum.

Presentations will include:

Tools for Podcasting: How, Why, Where — American University professor Jill Olmsted will explore podcasting, how it works and where to find tools and inspiration to create your own podcast. Olmsted will also gift attendees with free copies of her extensive ebook, “Tools for Podcasting.

Podcasting: From Choosing Gear to Empowering Guests — Michael Goodman, audio product design engineer and chief podcaster at CEntrance, will delve into audio hardware, podcasting best practices, dealing with podcast guests and more.

Podcast Studio Design: Necessities, Variations and Options — John Storyk of Walters-Storyk Design Group provides a case study of creating professional facilities for top podcasters Stitcher and Spotify’s Gimlet Media.

Getting it Made: Content and Quality in Podcasting — commercial post and pro podcast engineer Frank Verderosa will explore ways to create audio content, weighing cost, purpose, audience and goals; discuss challenges and solutions; consider recording options; and show how scalable production can be.

Make Noise: A Creator’s Guide to Podcasting and Great Audio Storytelling — NPR/Audient veteran Eric Nuzum has helped launch over 130 podcasts; he’ll share real-world advice for creating a compelling podcast, and will additionally sign copies of his new podcasting book, “Make Noise.”

Pitches, Partners, & Placements, Oh, My: How to Get Over A Million Podcast Downloads Next Year — “Mind Love” podcaster Melissa Monte will share the exact strategies she used to grow her show from zero audience to over a million downloads in one year, with no paid advertisements.

Amplify Your Podcast with Social Media — AVNation’s Tim Albright will go through each of the major, and minor, social media networks and explore what each has to promote your podcast.

And that’s just the podcasting track. In all, The Video Show will feature more than 100 sessions on all kinds of content creation, as well as a screening room, demo areas, streaming studio and exhibit floor. You can find out more at www.thevideoshow.com, and if you’re already amped to go, psst — visit here to get a nicely discounted registration. (Don’t say I never did anything for you.)

 

The post Follow Podcasting’s Path — or Blaze It Yourself appeared first on Radio World.

NAB Adds Broadcast Essentials to Education Resources

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 16:36

The National Association of Broadcasters has added a “resource designed to equip new employees with information they need to succeed in their new roles,” according to NAB Executive Vice President of Industry Affairs Steve Newberry.

This new online educational program, dubbed “Broadcast Essentials,” is intended to help broadcast stations and new employees. NAB members can access the content for free, and nonmembers can purchase each suite for $499 per station or cluster.

The first course is entitled “Radio Employee Onboarding Suite” features six videos that address:

  • Radio station licenses and content delivery methods;
  • A typical station’s organizational chart;
  • Content and revenue streams;
  • How commercials are created, scheduled and aired;
  • Radio’s role in the local community and economy.

More courses are slated for release in the coming months.

 

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Inside the November 20 Issue of Radio World

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 14:26

What an exciting issue we have for you, with great stories and news from all around the world of radio. Low-power FM operators explain why they think they deserve regulatory relief. We remember the late Warren Shulz and Jeff Nordstrom. Buyer’s Guide features new offerings for streaming, podcasting and online delivery. We take a look inside the new studio of Rutgers station WRSU. Fred Jacobs writes that Alexa wants to be everywhere, including in our ears, our glasses and maybe even our pizza boxes. And lots more.

Read the digital edition here.

REGULATION
LPFM Stations Seek Technical Upgrades

Advocates argue that the low-power FM service is now a mature one. Many broadcasters say that doesn’t mean LPFM rules should be changed. Here’s what people are telling the FCC.

TECH HISTORY
How D-C Cranked Out All Those Tapes

Hank Landsberg is known for his little blue Henry boxes; but back in the day he was director of engineering at Drake-Chenault Enterprises, and he has cool stories to share about what it was like to work there in the heyday of tape-based automation.

 

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:

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Study Highlights “Five Secrets for Automotive Advertisers” 

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 11:24

A study commissioned by iHeartMedia challenges common assumptions about the efficacy of automotive radio advertising strategies and consumer behaviors.

The media company said that for 17 months, marketing attribution software company LeadsRx tracked “nearly 2 million commercials” run by “more than 300 automotive advertisers” and featuring all major automotive brands.

A report summarizing the findings, “Five Secrets for Automotive Advertisers,” was presented at the Automotive Analytics & Attribution Summit during a workshop titled “Turbocharge Your Radio Spots. The Top 5 Attribution Secrets Discovered From Over 300 Automotive Advertisers.”

[Read: Connected Travel Seeks a Radio Connection]

These so-called secrets will likely not surprise seasoned radio professionals; reach and frequency are key. The report concludes, “Running 10 commercials per day using a mix of ad lengths, dayparts, stations and days of the week can lead to a two times greater web traffic response rate.”  According to the study, the best recipe appears to be to run a campaign seven days a week, airing ads of multiple lengths between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.  

Additionally:

  • After running radio commercials, advertisers saw an average 17% increase in web traffic within 10 minutes.
  • Ad campaigns airing seven days a week saw +90% greater results than those who advertised three to four days. 
  • Web traffic response to advertising is two times greater from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. than in evenings or overnight.
  • Multiple ad lengths outperformed campaigns with single ad lengths by over two times. 

“The goal of any attribution study is to demonstrate how to make campaigns more effective, and this study confirms that advanced attribution helps automotive businesses to plan, measure and evaluate their advertising,” LeadsRx CEO AJ Brown said in a release announcing the study. 

iHeartMedia Executive Vice President of Automotive Business Development and Partnerships John Karpinski said, “Importantly, the use of attribution upended several commonly held industry misconceptions as to what makes for a successful advertising campaign. We [iHeartMedia] are now fully committed to marketing attribution to drive 100% of our automotive advertising business.”

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Symposium Examines Changing Radio Landscape

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 09:39
Some 120 broadcast engineers, equipment manufacturers, academics and students traveled from as far away as Japan and South Korea to attend this year’s BTS Symposium.

Convening for the 69th time in as many years, this year’s IEEE Broadcast Technology Society’s annual fall Symposium brought together some 120 engineering personnel from as far away as Japan and South Korea to exchange information about developments in disseminating information and entertainment to mass audiences.

Although the ATSC 3.0 and 5G rollouts got the lion’s share of attention this year, contemporary radio technology and issues were visible, with presentations ranging from IP connectivity to network security, remote monitoring, emergency alerting and regulatory matters. 

Frank Foti led off presentations on a day of the conference devoted primarily to radio, with an update on the initiative by the Telos Alliance to assist broadcasters in moving to all-IP transport platforms. 

[Read: The Value of Standards]

“I just recently finished up some pretty cool research work that I want to share that ties in with (the transport of) the FM multiplex signal,” said Foti. “Moving from multiplex over AES 67 to IP is a natural progression, and (this) technology slashes the amount of bandwidth needed for distribution by nearly 84 percent to a remarkable 320 kbps. It’s a remarkably efficient payload.” 

Foti said that the µMPX technology was designed for FM transmission applications and was devoid of traditional psychoacoustic artifacts, with those that were generated being masked by the FM reception process. He also noted that by using the technology, which supports the embedding of the pilot, FM broadcasters could gain 1 dB greater loudness in their signals.

Frank Foti. “With this [µMPX] technology we’re able to get that 1 dB loudness legally.”“In the FM stereo system (with) 100 percent modulation, it’s basically 90 percent audio and 10 percent pilot,” said Foti. 

“In this system we’re embedding the pilot instead of adding it. The equivalent would be modulating at 110 percent to get that added loudness. With this technology we’re able to get that 1 dB loudness legally. I’m not up here to (push) loudness, but we live in a competitive world. This is dense audio; you shift it 1 dB and the program director says ‘Wow’! In an age where broadcasters are fighting in every way to retain listeners, I think added loudness is a benefit to the industry.”

MP11

The NAB’s David Layer teamed with Xperi’s Harry Chalmers to provide a report on testing of a high bitrate (100 kbps core and 48 kbps non-core) HD Radio operating mode that was defined in the NRSC-5 IBOC standard but had not been tested until now.  

Layer noted that the testing was a cooperative effort of Xperi, Nautel and NAB Pilot, and utilized the Pilot radio test bed set up at the Cavell, Mertz & Associates offices in Manassas, Va. 

David Layer. “We needed to characterize the performance of MP11 before it’s supported by manufacturers of receivers and transmission equipment,”

As explained by Layer, this MP11 mode accommodates hybrid analog/digital broadcasting and operates within the same RF bandwidth (193.3 kHz) as the established MP3 transmission mode. 

“We needed to characterize the performance of MP11 before it’s supported by manufacturers of receivers and transmission equipment,” said Layer. “The first five modes of FM HD radio have always been supported, but there was no software written for this sixth mode (MP11).” 

The main objectives of testing were to determine the impact of the MP11 digital sidebands on the mainstream FM analog audio signal and the RDS component, as well as the possible effect of the analog FM signal on MP11 digital sidebands. 

[BTS Explores Tech’s Role in Content Wars]

Layer said that part of the testing involved using real-world program formats (including classical, country, urban and others) in addition to periods of silence (no modulation) and discrete tones (for measuring signal-to-noise ratio). The testing utilized six different FM receivers (a mix of analog-only and HD Radio-capable) and compared performance of the MP11 mode with established MP1 (no extended sidebands) and MP3 (some extended sidebands) modes of operation.  

Chalmers revealed that the signal-to-noise performance of one of the receivers used was inconsistent with that of the others, and that the analog-only receivers involved were most affected by the MP11 signal.

Harry Chalmers. “As a result of this study, Xperi is planning to commercialize this technology. We’re now including MP11 in all chip uploads that we give to manufacturers.”

“We spoke with the manufacturers, and they said that this was correctable,” he said. 

Layer said that in listening tests, any differences in analog component performance that might have been caused by the MP11 component were not noticeable, and that the study to determine effects of the analog FM signal on the MP11 signal was equally encouraging.

“The results were quite positive,” he said, adding that iHeartMedia is now doing some field testing, with station WTUE in Dayton, Ohio, acting as host.

Alan Jurison, senior operations engineer, engineering and systems integration with iHeartMedia and chair of this IEEE Broadcast Symposium session, said that iHeartMedia “did a driving test from Cincinnati to Dayton and the results were good. At the time of the symposium, WTUE has been operating (with MP11) for some 90 days and there have been no listener or automobile manufacturer complaints.”

Chalmers added, “As a result of this study, Xperi is planning to commercialize this technology. We’re now including MP11 in all chip uploads that we give to manufacturers.”\

AM PROTECTION CONTOURS

In the conference devoted to regulatory matters, the FCC’s 2018 Second Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) addressing “revitalization” of the AM broadcast band came under the spotlight, with a report by Tom Jones of the Carl T. Jones Corp. consulting firm.

He said that this second NPRM focused on changes to protection contours of existing Class A 50 kW stations, and would affect their protected operating contours during all operating modes (daytime, critical hours and nighttime), and reported that a large amount of feedback had been received during the comment period.

“Numerous thoughtful and informative comments were received in response to this ‘Second Further Notice,’ both in support of, and in opposition to, the proposed changes in interference protection afforded to Class A stations.” He said the most complete technical comments opposing the rule changes had come from a group called the AM Radio Preservation Alliance, and the most technical comments had been filed by several engineering consulting firms.

[Upgrading an AM to All-Digital: Why, How and Lessons Learned] Tom Jones. “The tradeoff is pushing noise away from your transmitter while creating interference elsewhere.”

Jones presented a list of the various pros and cons offered by the two dissenting groups, which include “adoption of the proposed change to the daytime contour for Class A stations would potentially allow other Class B and D stations on the channel to substantially increase their daytime power and thus better serve their communities” and “failure to protect a Class A AM station’s 0.1 mV/m daytime groundwave contour would eliminate massive amounts of current AM service, while only resulting in modest gains for non-Class A stations.”

He said that some of the strongest comments opposing the rule change came from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA said that such changes would “decimate the system developed and funded by FEMA, under the mandate of Congress, for a robust communications distribution network (allowing U.S. citizens to receive) under all conditions, a presidential message in time of national emergency.” 

FEMA added that millions of dollars had been invested on this network, “which is reliant on skywave signal coverage by Class A AM stations.”

Jones said, “I would advise anyone interested to review these comments, which are on the FCC’s website.” If the changes were to be enacted, “the tradeoff is pushing noise away from your transmitter while creating interference elsewhere.”

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FCC Announces C-Band Repurposing Plan

Tue, 11/19/2019 - 13:06

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Monday, Nov. 18, disclosed his plan for reallocating part of the C-band spectrum (3.7–4.2 GHz) for 5G use.

In a letter to Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Pai said the FCC will auction 280 megahertz of spectrum for 5G. An additional 20 megahertz will be used as a guard band with the remaining upper 200 megahertz available for the continued delivery of programming for radio and television.

[Read: New Bill Would Force C-Band Auction]

The FCC told reporters on Monday that with broadcast satellite services being downsized to just 200 MHz of spectrum a repack of the space will be required. There are more than 16,000 registered receive-only dishes in the field that currently use the C-band, according to NAB. They are used to receive national and syndicated programming for TV and radio.

The order is expected to be considered by the full commission early next year, according to an FCC official. FCC staff will be tasked with carrying out the public auction, which is expected to commence prior to the end of 2020, according to an FCC official. The FCC will accept public comment before any new rules are adopted.

On Nov. 18, the FCC called the process a “complicated rulemaking” that took over two years and raised a number of economic, legal, engineering and policy issues.

Pai in his letter to Congress outlined four principles that the FCC should advance in the rulemaking: “First, we must make available a significant amount of C-band spectrum for 5G. Second, we must make C-band spectrum available for 5G quickly. Third, we must generate revenue for the federal government. And fourth, we must protect the services that are currently delivered using the C-band so they can continue to be delivered to the American people.”

The public auction of the 280 megahertz for 5G (3.7 to 3.98 GHz) will be administered by the FCC. The commission determined an auction is preferable to a private sale, according to the FCC official. The C-Band Alliance, led by Intelset, SES and Intel, had previously proposed to split the band frequency to accommodate 5G services, with the alliance handling the private sale of spectrum.

The FCC on Nov. 18 said the repack of broadcast services to the upper 200 megahertz (4.0–4.2 GHz) has yet to be defined. The FCC official suggested that with the use of high-resolution video compression, the 20 megahertz guard band, the installation of filters on earth-stations and the launching of several new satellites, can compress all of the existing services and content currently delivered over the C-band into the upper 200 megahertz.

The FCC did not disclose whether incentive payments would be made to incumbent satellite providers affected by the repack. It is also not clear if there will be an independent facilitator appointed to oversee the clearing of the band.

NAB asked the FCC in an early filing during the proceeding to ensure “costs for implementing such a plan should be entirely borne by the beneficiaries of any private or public spectrum transaction: either the satellite operators or the mobile carriers who acquire spectrum usage rights.”

National Public Radio earlier pressed the FCC for clarity in its final decision when it comes to the financial ramifications of a massive C-band migration of satellite earth-stations caused by a repack. The Public Radio Satellite System (PRSS) depends on C-band for distribution of programming to approximately 1,275 public radio stations, said Adam Shoemaker, counsel for NPR, according to an FCC filing.

While the FCC’s plan on the repacking of broadcast services is unclear, the commission does expect to fully protect all incumbents currently relying on the C-band for video and radio programming, the FCC official said.

 

 

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Music Matters to Willy

Tue, 11/19/2019 - 02:00
Sofie Engelen hosts Willy’s morning drive

VILVOORDE, Belgium — The plan to launch a new radio station dates back from 2017, when Kevin Moens, music director with Joe, and a group of radio creatives came up with the idea.

“We felt we were missing something,” Moens said. “Both Qmusic and Joe have well-defined formats, but we couldn’t find a ‘guitar-focused’ station on the Flemish radio scene part of the audience was left in the cold.”

NEW MARKET Willy’s on-air cast includes presenters, musicians and media personalities

The idea initially faced some criticism. “A third FM station for our media group was not the option, there was no room in the existing frequency plan and streaming the signal was not enough,” Moens explained. “But gradually, the idea to serve a new segment alongside Joe and Qmusic became reality.”

When, in 2018, DPG Media decided to fully go ahead with DAB+, and with Alain Claes as head of the group’s innovation department, opportunities for new stations were created. “We launched the new Joe channels and DAB+ also became a facilitator for a new station,” said Moens.

“We wanted something novel and Willy became the group’s first digital-only station, broadcasting via DAB+, streaming and the Radioplayer platform,” he said.

“Willy was part of a business plan,” added Claes. “This has to be seen as a long-term investment and although we offer a modest program today, the new station has received a lot of enthusiasm from advertisers because it offers a new potential audience market. With DAB+ tripling its penetration here, we are confident in Willy’s future.”

Willy is complementary to Qmusic and Joe. With the tagline “Music Matters,” the new station targets the “music lovers” audience bracket. “It’s all about music and people talking about it,” continued Moens, who is Willy’s music director.

MODERN STRUCTURE Editors were the first international band to take the “Free Willy” studio

The station invited a cast of music and media personalities to host its Friday program roster. Musicians like Triggerfinger’s Ruben Block, television director Tim van Aelst and presenter Sofie Engelen received “carte blanche.”

Moens added that the only prerequisite is that “they are passionate about music and their playlist includes a guitar segment.” The rest of the week, Willy offers a no speech music format. Friday night’s “Free Willy” show is the platform for bands, interviews and album presentations.

Although Willy wasn’t planned when Joe and Qmusic moved to the Sound Park studio landscape, the new station benefits from the future-proofed structure.

“To be honest, when we planned the studios, we knew new activities would be coming our way,” said Alain Claes. “In-house production of commercials and jingles, podcasts, micro-podcasts — they all require studio space and today, it’s nice to see that we have the capacity.”

Willy broadcasts from one of Sound Park’s studios, which the broadcaster build this summer. The station makes use of a DHD RX2 console, Dalet Galaxy playout system, Neumann TLM102 mics and a Technics SL1200 turntable.

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