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FCC Lists Stations at Risk of Losing Licenses

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 14:55

Sixteen stations in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi are on notice that if they don’t file for license renewal by June 1, their licenses will expire.

The FCC released the list of stations that were supposed to have filed by early February. The list includes several LPFM stations and one translators.

[Read: FCC Deletes Call Signs of Two California FM Stations]

The stations and licensees are:
KZTD(AM), Cabot, Ark., Emanuel Carrera
KPWH(LP), Jonesboro, Ark., Powerhouse Ministries
KHEE(LP), Magee, Ark., Desha County Community Radio Inc.
KTPV(LP), Prairie Grove, Ark., Foundation for The Preservation of The Individual
KLSP(FM), Angola, La., Louisiana State Penitentiary
KVDP(FM), Dry Prong, La., Dry Prong Educational Broadcasting Foundation Inc.
KWRJ(LP), Elton, La., Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana
KLIC(AM), Monroe, La., WOO2 Communications LLC
KCRJ(LP), Monroe, La., IBC Ministries Inc.
K219DB(FX), New Iberia, La., Bible Broadcasting Network Inc.
WORV(AM), Hattiesburg, Miss., Circuit Broadcasting Co.
WKRA(AM), Holly Springs, Miss., Billy R. Autry
WKRA(FM), Holly Springs, Miss., Billy R. Autry
KOUI(FM), Louisville, Miss. South Central Oklahoma Christian Broadcasting Inc.
WMOX(AM), Meridian, Miss. Magnolia State Broadcasting Inc.
WNNN(LP), Noxapater, Miss., Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church

Download the notice here.


The post FCC Lists Stations at Risk of Losing Licenses appeared first on Radio World.

Skyview Networks Pushes Ad Tailored Campaigns

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 14:20

Satellite program distribution network operator Skyview Networks is highlighting ad campaign customization options inherent in its receivers as a way of approaching the varying levels of economic activity across the country.

[Read: Twins Pair Up With Skyview Networks]

According to the company these include: targeting individual messages to a particular region, market or states; target different messages in the company’s lineup of news, music and sports programs; air multiple advertisements to a specific market, state or region

A release explained, “advertisers can benefit from tailored campaigns that target customers not only in the reopened regions of the economy, but down to the individual market level.”


The post Skyview Networks Pushes Ad Tailored Campaigns appeared first on Radio World.

NAB Says C-Band Cost Structure Should Await Satellite Transition Details

Thu, 05/14/2020 - 19:31

The devil is in the details, so the saying goes. That adage seems apt as the federal government considers how to establish a “catalog” of relocation costs for users of C-Band spectrum, including radio and TV stations, who will have to migrate.

The National Association of Broadcasters has filed comments with the commission that give some idea of the complexity of the discussion. The commission’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau had asked for industry feedback on its preliminary schedule of costs associated with relocating services out of the 3.7 to 4.0 GHz band.

[Read: C-Band Repack Could Be Costly for Many Radio Stations]

It’s a detailed filing, but in general NAB is asking the bureau to take more input, revise the current estimates and not finalize anything until satellite operators submit their own ultimate plans — and also until rising costs from pandemic-related disruptions of supply chains are known.

NAB pointed to a number of places in the preliminary schedule where it thinks costs need to be adjusted or clarified. It asked for more flexibility in certain line item filings. And it asked the FCC to clarify that the catalog’s description of technology upgrades does not suggest that specific technology selections are solely at the discretion of satellite operators.

Download the NAB filing here.

An example from the filing: NAB points to a potentially large “cost error” in calculations for Integrated Receiver/Decoders. “For the downlink portion of costs associated with compression upgrades, the Catalog lists a range of $5,000 to $35,000 ‘per transponder.’ While that cost range is likely appropriate for each individual IRD, thousands of broadcast stations and cable headends across the country may receive content from a single transponder. As a result, in many cases there will be thousands of IRDs required for each transponder.” (NAB suspects the FCC’s “per transponder” description may be an error and that the intent was to address costs “per IRD.”)

Another example from the discussion of costs for earth stations: “In Table III-A-1, the Cost Catalog sets for passband filter installation costs of $300 to $1100 per earth station. At least one NAB member has already expended significant effort in estimating installation costs associated with filter installation, and has determined that actual costs will be $1350 per station. Accordingly, we urge the Bureau to revise the upper end of the range of costs for passband filter installation to at least $1350.”

The proceeding, for those who wish to dig into the comments, is “Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Seeks Comment on Preliminary Cost Category Schedule for 3.7 to 4.2 GHz Relocation Expenses,” Public Notice, GN Docket No. 18-122, DA 20-457.


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Radio World Announces Winners of “Best of Show Special Edition”

Thu, 05/14/2020 - 12:51

Radio World today announced winners of the 2020 “Best of Show Awards, Special Edition.”

Recipients are:
Angry Audio Bluetooth Audio Gadget

DEVA Broadcast DB4005 SDR-Based FM Radio Modulation Monitor

Digigram IQOYA CONNECT Codec Manager

ENCO Systems WebDAD Mobile Radio Automation

Nautel LookingGlass

Wheatstone GSX Programmable Console

A special edition of the program was created this year in the absence of a physical spring NAB Show. The program honors and helps promote outstanding new, recently introduced and pending products and services.

“Our thanks to the many companies that participated in this year’s program under such unusual circumstances,” said Paul McLane, managing director of content in Future’s B2B media technology group. “It’s clear from the nominations that despite the current health crisis, technology innovation remains strong in our industry.”

Winners are selected by panels of professional users and magazine and site editors. Companies pay a fee to participate; not all entries are chosen. Winners and nominees will be featured in a program guide to be distributed shortly to 95,000 broadcast and media readers across Future’s media brands.


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FCC Releases Results of 2019 EAS Test

Thu, 05/14/2020 - 12:38

The results of the 2019 EAS test are in.

The Federal Communications Commission released the results from the August 2019 nationwide EAS test, which demonstrated that the nation’s broadcast-based EAS distribution system largely works as designed — though the test did expose several issues within the system that require improvement.

The Aug. 7, 2019, test marked the fifth time a nationwide EAS test has been conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in coordination with the FCC. This test used only the broadcast-based distribution system and as in previous tests, the purpose was to evaluate the readiness of EAS participants to receive and then retransmit the alert to other stations.

[Read: FCC Shares EAS Test Results]

An FCC analysis of the 2019 test found much good news, starting with the fact that a significant majority of the EAS participants successfully received the national periodic test code (NPT) and then turned around and retransmitted the NPT to other EAS participants. Other good news: this time around, 20,250 participants were involved with the 2019 test, marking a participation rate of 78.6%, which is up slightly from 76.3% in 2018.

 As in previous tests, radio topped the list with 82% of stations participating, up from 78.7% in 2019. Participation was lower overall for both TV and cable in 2019 with 68.2% of television broadcasters participating and 73.4% of cable systems, IPTV and wireline video system participating in the test.

Low-power broadcasters had some of the lowest levels of participation with 55.9% for LPFM and 48.1% for LPTV. Yet there is some good news to be found. Low-power filings increased by 292 in 2019 when compared with 2018.

This time around, participants were again expected to submit information via three separate forms. Form One asked EAS participants to report basic identifying information including ownership information and the name of their EAS equipment; Form Two asked participants to report day of test results, including whether they had successfully received and retransmitted the test alert; and Form Three asked participants to report more detailed test results, such as the first source from which the alert was received.

The test also asked participants to report the languages in which they received and retransmitted the test alert. This year, the test alert message was sent only in English; in previous years, the message was sent in both English and Spanish.

As anticipated, the test also shed light on challenges that impeded the ability of some EAS participants to receive and/or retransmit the NPT.

Test participants reported problems with equipment configuration, audio quality, alerting source problems and clock errors, among other issues. The retransmission issue with the highest number of reported problems: the transmission was not received at all. More than 2,530 test participants reported this problem. Other issues included audio issues, power issues, signal issues, internet issues and even lightning — 20 participants reported issues caused by bolts of electricity from above.

This year, several State Emergency Communications Committees (SECCs) reported to the FCC that certain areas of their state did not receive the alert. SECCs from Florida, Michigan and Georgia reported delivery problems to the Primary Entry Point (PEP) stations. The FCC also received reports of smaller-scale monitoring source issues in parts of Wisconsin, North Dakota, Colorado, North Carolina and New Hampshire.

FEMA also confirmed that several PEPs did not transmit the alert due to varying degrees of equipment failures. Overall, FEMA reported that of 77 PEP stations, 12 (approximately 16%) experienced technical issues receiving and retransmitting the alert on the test day.

When it comes to next steps, both the FCC and FEMA said they plan to take measures to continue to improve the EAS system. The FCC plans to conduct targeted outreach to look into operational complications as well as improve participation in the nationwide test. FEMA notes that it is actively taking measures to improve PEP performance going forward.

“The 2019 nationwide EAS test was successful in that it demonstrated that the nationwide broadcast-based EAS distribution system would largely perform as designed, if activated without the availability of the internet,” the FCC said. “At the same time, the test exposed several deficiencies within the system that require improvement. [C]ontinued and regular testing of the system will help ensure that any needed improvements and adjustments are made to address those circumstances that can be identified in advance, and that EAS equipment is in reliable working order.”


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Radio Hall of Fame Now Accepting Nominations

Thu, 05/14/2020 - 02:07

The Museum of Broadcast Communications’ Radio Hall of Fame Nominating Committee announced it is now accepting suggestions for 2020 nominees through May 29, 2020.

Inductees will be honored at the annual Radio Hall of Fame ceremony in Chicago, currently scheduled for October 2020.

Radio Hall of Fame nominations can be made in the following categories:

  • Longstanding Local/Regional (20 years or more)
  • Active Local/Regional (10 years or more)
  • Networks/Syndication (10 years or more)
  • Longstanding Network/Syndication (20 years or more)
  • Music Format On-Air Personality and/or Spoken Word On-Air Personality

To make a nomination, visit

Radio Hall of Fame awards

The Radio Hall of Fame’s Nominating Committee selects a group of radio personalities and programs for nomination each year. The Committee accepts and takes into consideration the suggestions from members of the radio industry and from listeners nationwide.

Nominees in four of the six categories are then voted upon by members of the radio industry for induction into the Radio Hall of Fame. Nominees in two categories receive both voting consideration by the listening public and the Nominating Committee.

This fall also marks the 100th anniversary of the radio industry, included as be part of this year’s celebration, with KDKA in Pittsburgh often cited as the first commercial radio station in the United States for broadcasting the 1920 presidential election returns.

“Being the 100th anniversary of radio makes this year’s celebration even more special,” said Radio Hall of Fame chairman Kraig T. Kitchin in a press release.

The post Radio Hall of Fame Now Accepting Nominations appeared first on Radio World.

NENT Group Drives DAB’s Future in Sweden

Thu, 05/14/2020 - 02:00

STOCKHOLM — Sweden was one of the last countries in Europe to distribute legal commercial radio broadcasting licenses.

Only in 1993 did the government start issuing two local commercial licenses for each broadcasting area. The exception was major cities where it issued more, still local, licenses. Before that, listeners could tune to only four public service channels.


Christer Modig is the CEO of commercial media and entertainment company NENT Group.

At the same time, Sweden (and Norway) were the first two countries to launch regular DAB broadcasts. Public service broadcaster Sveriges Radio turned on DAB in 1995. Unfortunately, the first generation of the DAB standard never really took off.

In 2002 SR announced it needed additional public funding to continue DAB transmissions. The government denied SR’s request, and SR shut DAB down the same year.

In 2010, when the second generation of the standard DAB+ was available, the Swedish government announced that spectrum would be allocated to commercial DAB+ networks (two multiplexes), and issued an enquiry to gather contributions and positions on how to best plan and manage the FM to digital transition.

It was a matter of “how and when,” not “if.” Thus the future road for the Swedish airwaves seemed to be paved with digital bricks. In 2014 the government presented the results of this enquiry and issued the first DAB+ commercial licenses.

“However, in 2015, following a change in government and before we even had a chance to launch, the government decided not to proceed with the proposed plan,” explained Christer Modig, CEO of commercial media and entertainment company NENT Group. “Since then, DAB has been on hold, nothing has happened for years.”


Even if Swedish commercial broadcasters had DAB+ licenses, no one launched a digital station. According to Modig, there were two main reasons for this.

Christer Modig is the CEO of commercial media and entertainment company NENT Group.

First, he said, there was not a clear government decision, and without that the public service broadcaster wouldn’t move toward DAB+. “And without the audience the public service is sitting on [about 70% of listening in Sweden], everyone thought it was impossible to build a sustainable audience for DAB+,” he said.

Secondly, all the commercial FM licenses were expiring in 2018. So at that time commercial broadcasters didn’t know whether they would have had an FM station after that time to support the digital transition. “It [digital] just stopped.” Modig concluded.

In 2018 the Swedish government reissued eight-year commercial FM licenses, and for the first time, it issued three national commercial licenses in addition to a number of local licenses which, if properly assembled, allowed the creation of a fourth national commercial FM channel.

Almost at the same time, the Swedish military made a claim for the DAB+ spectrum, since, according to Swedish law, it was entitled to it because the broadcasters were not using it.

“No other commercial radio groups in Sweden showed interest in launching DAB, neither did Sveriges Radio, so we decided we would have to do it alone,” Modig explained.


In July 2018 NENT Group launched 13 DAB+ channels: four simulcasts of FM stations, seven brand new channels and two partner channels. Initial coverage reaches Stockholm, Gävle and Uppsala.

A comparison between NENT Group’s streaming and DAB+ audience figures.

In total, around 4.4 million people (out of a population of 10 million) can today tune to NENT’s DAB channels. This accounts for 43% of the population. At the end of 2019 the broadcaster widened its coverage to reach Malmö and Gothenburg.

NENT said they did this at first to protect the DAB spectrum from getting allocated to the Swedish military. “If we didn’t use it, nothing could stop the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority from giving the frequency space away,” Modig said. “But we also wanted to reignite the political process on DAB+ and push for a decision.”

The idea has also driven other Swedish broadcasters to join them and proceed with the digitization plan and to secure the DAB+ licenses for renewal in 2022. Modig believes that, if NENT remains the only broadcaster to use the DAB+ licenses, authorities probably won’t reissue them.

Despite the lack of any public endorsement for DAB+ broadcasts in the country, based on listening figures, it appears as if Swedish people own far more DAB radio receivers than one would imagine. Although there are no official statistics about how many DAB radio receivers have been sold in Sweden.


DAB+-capable radios have been sold in “hi-fi” stores since early 2000. After 2010, the bigger electronic chains began carrying DAB+ devices, and today, most new cars come with a DAB receiver as standard or as part of a “sound pack” option.

Swedish radio broadcasters rely on a Portable People Meter system to study listening figures. NENT encoded its DAB+ channels for PPM measurements, and surprisingly they realized that around 250,000 people listen to their DAB+ channels. Coverage rollout reached only 2.4 million potential listeners at the time of the measurement.

Looking at the comparison between NENT’s online and DAB listening figures, online NENT reaches about 600,000 people every day, about 14–15% of the entire Swedish population.

“We reached 250,000 listeners on an overall potential base of 2.4 million people covered, without any marketing or promotions,” Modig explained. “When we cover Malmö and Gothenburg we will add another 2 million potential listeners. I strongly believe our DAB numbers will pass our online listening figures before the end of 2020.”


NENT representatives visited some shops and commercial centers and they found that nearly nine out of 10 radio receivers sold are DAB+-capable. Together with the potential listening base coming from DAB+ in-car receivers, this could explain the surprising listening figures NENT’s DAB+ service has experienced.

NENT’s effort has brought some remarkable results. In November 2019, Swedish Radio submitted an application to the Ministry of Culture for a national DAB+ permit for the period of 2020–2025. With its current permit, the public broadcaster is authorized to broadcast digital radio in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö and Norrbotten. As part of its new application, Swedish Radio has requested a nationwide permit for 10 channels.

Then in February 2020, Bauer Media announced it would start DAB+ services in Sweden in the summer of 2020. It plans to launch multiplexes in the cities of Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. The network plans to cover over 40% of the population with 10 DAB+ digital radio stations.

“Throughout Europe, listening to digital radio is growing via DAB +,” said Teemu Korhonen, distribution manager at Bauer Media in a press release.

“It will be great fun for listeners in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö who will get several new radio channels to listen to. DAB + is the natural step for future-proofing and developing radio for its listeners.”

The post NENT Group Drives DAB’s Future in Sweden appeared first on Radio World.

Matheny Thanks Engineers: “You Are Your Company Heroes”

Wed, 05/13/2020 - 17:53

“We are not just dealing with a crisis, but also a catalyst.”

So says Sam Matheny, CTO and executive vice president at the National Association of Broadcasters, opening the online version of the Broadcasting Engineering and IT Conference Wednesday. It was part of the two-day NAB Show Express event.

“Things are changing rapidly, and in ways people may have never thought possible,” Matheny said, according to the text of his prepared remarks as provided by NAB. “Companies have adopted remote production, cloud technologies, distributed master control and so much more.”

[Read RW’s interview with Engineering Achievement Award recipient Jeff Welton]

Matheny said such change would typically take a long time — “years to convince people of, and still years more to deploy.” But the pandemic is prompting rapid change. “It unleashed your talents and genius as you were tasked with adapting and thriving in a new operating environment.”

Matheny said he has had numerous CEO conversations about the value of technology and engineering right now, enabling stations to stay on the air.

“They’ve said, ‘You know, if you had asked me eight weeks ago was this possible, I would have told you no. But, it has actually worked quite well.’ And they weren’t describing minor changes. They were describing 75% of the workforce being displaced from the office. They were describing massive change. And you, you are your company heroes of this pandemic. Thank you for all you are doing to keep our communities and nation informed and safe, and also entertained.”

[Read RW’s interview in March with Sam Matheny about the coronavirus response]

A number of the sessions planned for the BEITC conference migrated to the NAB Show Express website and are accessible there either live or on-demand. For radio, they include presentations about hybrid radio and digital radio from the likes of Audi, Radio DNS and Xperi.

The site also features presentations and acceptance remarks for the NAB’s Engineering Achievement Awards including the radio award to Jeff Welton of Nautel and the Digital Leadership Award to J.D. Crowley of Entercom.


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FCC Revises Public Notice Application Rules

Wed, 05/13/2020 - 17:35

The Federal Communications Commission believes a rule change adopted Wednesday will simplify the process by which broadcasters post certain notices. One commissioner said the change brings the disclosure process into the digital age.

Under the rules in place until now, when a broadcaster filed certain types of applications such as license renewals or transfers of control, it was required to let their communities know of the pending change. Specifically, it required certain applicants to provide written notice in the print edition of a local newspaper or, for radio and TV, to broadcast the filing of an application on-air.

[Read: FCC Looking to Modernize Local Public Notice Rule]

As a result of varying notice requirements imposed over the years, the FCC said, the rule had become “increasingly complex, creating compliance difficulties.” And such notices, it said, “do not easily facilitate public participation in the licensing process because they do not provide direct access to applications.”

Now, instead of publishing the news in a local paper, broadcasters can post the news online on a publicly accessible website that includes a link to the application. For radio, the newspaper publication is replaced by an on-air broadcast of the notice. This must direct listeners to the commission’s online databases where they can view and comment on the application.

It’s about time, according to one commissioner.

“Instead of taking up print space in competing local newspapers — to the extent that such papers even still exist — the new rules will simply require publication on a station website, or an alternative website in certain cases,” said Commissioner Michael O’Rielly in a statement.

The text of the order can be downloaded here.

The order also standardizes public notice requirements for on-air announcements, eliminates prefiling announcements and clarifies the local public notice obligations of international broadcast stations and low-power FM stations.

O’Rielly did question several issues that were included in the draft and raised during the comment process, such as requiring broadcasters to include the notice in a station’s online app. But all in all, the order provides greater flexibility for digital disclosures, he said.

The National Association of Broadcasters expressed satisfaction with the change. “Today’s vote will help bring the licensing process for local radio and TV stations into the modern age,” said NAB Senior Vice President of Communications Ann Marie Cumming. “Local broadcasters appreciate the efforts of Chairman Pai and the FCC to modernize archaic rules and ease outdated regulatory burdens.”


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Crystal Radio Awards Winners Announced

Wed, 05/13/2020 - 14:06

The National Association of Broadcasters announced the 10 recipients of its 33rd annual NAB Crystal Radio Awards.

The winners were chosen from 50 finalists and were honored during NAB Show Express:

Five-time NAB Crystal Radio Award winning station KCVM-FM also received the Crystal Heritage Award.

Since 1987, the NAB Crystal Radio Awards have recognized radio stations for their outstanding year-round commitment to community service.

Finalists were chosen by a panel of judges representing broadcasting, community service organizations and public relations firms. Finalist were honored and winners announced during NAB Show Express, with the broadcast available on demand as of March 14 at

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Smith Salutes Broadcasters: “Right Now, You Are in the Darkest Valley”

Wed, 05/13/2020 - 13:46

Acknowledging the “pain” and “very difficult decisions” radio and TV stations have been making, NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith hailed broadcasters for their work during the pandemic.

Smith opened the online iteration of the NAB Show today with his traditional state of the industry address. “Broadcasters endure,” Smith said. “Right now, you are in the darkest valley, but know that for most Americans, you are their beacon of light and hope. You are on the front lines of this battle, and I want you to know that NAB stands together shoulder to shoulder with you.”

[Read the NAB Show Daily]

On the regulatory front, Smith said the FCC “heard our concerns and has announced multiple extensions of deadlines, clarifications and exceptions to existing policies.” (Read his full remarks at the bottom of this story.)

Smith hailed the work and role of radio and TV broadcasters in challenging times.

He hailed stations for their journalism and support for local businesses, schools and charities; and thanked them for airing NAB’s spots to help stop the spread of COVID-19. “You are not simply helping your communities stay healthy, you are offering them hope. You are giving them a literal lifeline.”

In a subsequent conversation with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Smith said that the radio industry has been “doubly damaged” by the nation’s advertising downturn.

Pai said that he too had heard from broadcasters that it’s “very hard for small-town radio to keep the lights on,” and said the commission has been exploring regulatory relief including fee structures. He encouraged stations to tell the FCC how it can advocate. Pai said he wants to see the broadcast industry stay vibrant and “not shrivel.”

And there was a bit of byplay to amuse watchers of the political scene.

Pai described Smith, the former U.S. senator and fellow Republican, as a mentor. Smith asked Pai what will come next for him personally after he eventually departs the FCC, adding with a smile that Pai should move on to the White House. Pai demurred to talk about his next role, saying he was amused by speculation he’s heard about his future. But Smith concluded the interview, again with a smile, saying, “I’d be happy to be your vice president.”

* * *

Here is the text of Gordon Smith’s opening remarks:

I’d like to thank all of you for joining us for NAB Show Express. This is a new format and new experience for all of us. And while we can’t wait to be together again in Las Vegas next year, we plan to share many new digital show offerings with you in the future.

I particularly want to take a moment and thank the companies that support the broadcasting business — our exhibitors. Without you, our show would not be what it is. We are particularly grieved not to have in-person exhibits this year. We are all enduring this hardship together, and we appreciate those of you who have been, and will continue to be, NAB Show partners.

This current health crisis is an unprecedented time for our business … for our country… and even our world. Most of us have never lived through a global pandemic of this nature. It is impacting literally everything we do — from our families, to our friends and of course our businesses and our livelihoods.

NAB honored Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets, with its Distinguished Service Award. Kermit the Frog made a virtual appearance with Smith and Henson Co. Chairman Brian Henson.

I have talked to many of our broadcaster members during the past two months, and I have felt their pain and empathized with the very difficult decisions they are making. Some have had to take out loans to make payroll. Some have had to let go of trusted and capable staff. And some… I am very sorry to say, have had to close their doors entirely.

We don’t know how long this pandemic will last, or what the lasting effects of it might be on our economy. But there is one thing I do know… broadcasters endure. Right now, you are in the darkest valley, but know that for most Americans, you are their beacon of light and hope. You are on the front lines of this battle, and I want you to know that NAB stands together shoulder to shoulder with you.

It is a bit ironic, or maybe fortuitous, that this year, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of broadcasting, and the story of our great industry is one rooted in keeping our communities safe, informed and connected. It is interesting to note that during the time of the first commercial radio broadcast from KDKA in Pittsburgh in 1920, America was just coming out of another pandemic — the 1918 Spanish flu.

Throughout the last century, America’s local radio and television broadcasters have been there to provide a reassuring voice and a sense of community during our nation’s most harrowing days.

Now, as the world faces an uncertain situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, your work is more important than ever.

Whether it’s providing the trusted journalism that is keeping our communities informed or providing access to our nation’s leaders and medical experts to help us better understand the crisis, you are protecting lives.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai spoke with Smith during the opening. One of the chairman’s children was heard hollering in the background.

Broadcasters feel the suffering of their communities and have stepped up like never before to support small businesses and local restaurants, raise funds for those who have lost their jobs and help feed the hungry.

You’re also partnering with schools to allow teachers to assist children who have had their lives turned upside down and now must transition to virtual classrooms in the home.

The response from broadcasters — who themselves are fighting for their lives and livelihoods — has been nothing short of phenomenal.

We are incredibly grateful to all the stations who are airing NAB’s spots to help stop the spread of COVID-19, donating nearly $100 million worth of airtime so far.

But your commitment goes far beyond airing public service announcements. You are not simply helping your communities stay healthy, you are offering them hope. You are giving them a literal lifeline. You are a connection when Americans are desperately seeking ways to stay connected. And this is what broadcasters have done for 100 years.

We know this is likely the most challenging time local stations have ever encountered. This pandemic has crippled our nation’s economy and our industry has not been spared. Broadcasters are confronting plummeting advertising sales and enormous operational challenges. And yet, stations are doing what they do best: delivering the trusted and lifesaving information your communities need.

We know you cannot rest, and we won’t either.

NAB is working around the clock to deliver meaningful relief for the industry. And, we have appreciated the hard work and support of our state broadcast associations in our advocacy efforts. This includes urging legislators to allow local stations to apply for forgivable loans and to ensure the money the federal government is spending to advertise its programs is directed to local media. We have broad bipartisan support across Congress on these initiatives.

We are working closely with regulators as well, addressing areas of need for radio and TV stations, allowing you to focus on your role as first informers.

I am pleased that the FCC heard our concerns and has announced multiple extensions of deadlines, clarifications and exceptions to existing policies.

We won’t stop fighting for you and the relief you need to stay on the air.

Our great industry has endured for the past 100 years because of the indispensable and irreplaceable role broadcasters play in every town and city across the nation. And we will endure for at least 100 more, because you are the backbone of our country. You are truly what makes America great. And we are in this together.

I am reminded of a quote by American poet Theodore Roethke, “In a dark time, the eye begins to see.”

Though much remains uncertain, of this I can surely see: America’s broadcasters will always be there for their communities to lead them out of darkness during times of crisis… to connect us to our friends, family and community and to provide comfort and hope. This is true now, and it will be true when this crisis is over.

I am grateful for your strength, courage and conviction that will help us get through this together…and I am thankful for the reminder your stations provide each day… that we are not alone.


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Unions Call on Broadcasters to Protect News Workers

Wed, 05/13/2020 - 12:40

A group of unions under the AFL/CIO umbrella has issued a call to protect news teams during the pandemic and the process of reopening.

[Read: FCC Waives an EEO Requirement for Rehires]

News workers are considered an essential group of individuals and thus must be protected, according to the Department of Professional Employees, a coalition of 24 unions. As radio and TV broadcasters continue their jobs during the pandemic, DPE issued a set of guidelines calling on employers to ensure that:

  • Basic safety guidelines are followed when an individual needs to be in the newsroom, control room, studio or in the field. This includes following government guidelines on social distance and protective measures, with workers supplied adequate personal protective equipment;
  • Work that can be done from home should continue to be completed there, with proper tech support for the worker;
  • Professional cleaning crews sufficiently disinfect all worksites and field vehicles;
  • Employers adopt strict contact tracing plans to self-isolate those who may have been exposed to the coronavirus;
  • Layoffs, furloughs and reductions in employee hours should be considered only after all other options have been exhausted.

“News workers have helped tell the story of this pandemic, its heroes and its ramifications,” said DPE in a statement. “At the same time, thousands more in the industry have lost jobs along with millions of other Americans. News is essential, perhaps like never before. As parts of our society and economy begin to reopen, we want to do everything we can to make sure media workers have safe and fair workplaces.”

Among the unions endorsing the statement are SAG-AFTRA, the Directors Guild of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Broadcasting jobs have been hit hard by the pandemic with companies such as Urban One, Cumulus Media and Beasley Media Group cutting or furloughing employees, reducing salaries and taking other steps in the face of the business downturn.

As media companies begin the process of reopening radio properties in some states, employers must continue to be vigilant to protect news workers’ safety, the unions say.


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Inside the May 13 Issue of Radio World

Wed, 05/13/2020 - 12:08

We ask the FCC’s Al Shuldiner about interference complaints, the transition to LMS and the planned move of FCC headquarters. (Oh, and about the health crisis.) Also: Radio engineers talk about business continuity; Radio Marti begins shortwave DRM transmissions; the commission changes the LPFM technical rules; and Buyer’s Guide checks in on tools for visual radio.

Read it online here.

Prefer to do your reading offline? No problem! Simply click on the digital edition, go to the left corner and choose the download button to get a PDF version.

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Legal Settlement Is Reached in Orban Business Dispute

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 20:17

Three businesses related to the familiar Orban brand announced the settlement of a years-long legal dispute.

According to the announcement, Orban Labs Inc., Circuit Research Labs Inc. and Orban Europe GmbH settled issues stemming from DaySequerra’s purchase of Orban in 2016. The announcement also lays out the future roles of several executives familiar to Orban customers.

The companies said ownership of Orban Europe GmbH and all other worldwide Orban assets are being transferred to Orban Labs today, May 12.

[Read: Orban Offers AM Processor]

As part of the settlement, Orban Labs President David Day said, “We are streamlining our sales order processing and inventory management by combining our businesses worldwide into one operation. We are making these changes to better serve Orban’s loyal customers and dealers.” He said production will continue in Germany and that Orban products will continue to carry five-year warranties.

Day also announced the promotion of Peter Lee to senior vice president, global sales. Roger Sales continues as managing director of Orban Europe GmbH.

The statement quoted Lee: “I welcome the opportunity to provide the best customer sales and technical support in the industry working with our U.S., German and Netherlands staff.” He said all Orban processors continue to be designed and engineered by Bob Orban and his design team.

Orban Labs also appointed CRLI, operated by Jay Brentlinger, as a U.S. dealer for Orban radio products. CRLI will also provide parts, service and support for older, legacy Orban products from the Optimod 8400 and earlier. Day noted that some Orban products from the 1970s are still in service.


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EMF Launches Podcast Distribution Effort

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 16:05

Calling it a new direction for the organization, Christian radio biggie Educational Media Foundation has launched an online podcast platform called Accessmore.

EMF is the parent organization of the K-LOVE and Air1 networks, and their 1,000 or more broadcast signals. Last year it added WTA Media, a film and publishing business.

It highlights its new offering as a growing library of on-demand, faith-based podcasts.

[Read: EMF Names Reeves Permanent CEO]

Previews are at EMF said its app will be available soon on Apple and Android.

Accessmore will feature “Christian teachers, authors, speakers and entertainers sharing content designed to inform and inspire.”

“Launching Accessmore is a natural step for EMF as it debuts its distribution in podcasting,” the company said in the announcement. “More than 104 million Americans — 37% of the population — listens to a podcast monthly, according to About 68 million listen weekly.”


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Small-Scale DAB Prepares for UK Rollout

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 02:00

LONDON — Plans have been finalized for small-scale DAB radio licensing in the United Kingdom, following several years of trials.

Ford Ennals is CEO of Digital Radio UK.

Media regulator Ofcom describes small-scale DAB as “a new way of transmitting digital radio that uses advances in software and low-cost computer technology to provide a flexible and inexpensive approach to the terrestrial broadcast of digital radio services to a relatively small geographic area.” The concept was first tested in 2012 by Ofcom engineer, Rashid Mustapha MBE, who initially trialed it by installing a digital radio transmitter on a Brighton rooftop.


Ofcom engineers commission small-scale DAB trial equipment. Credit: Future Digital Norfolk

The regulator says the new licenses will be made available in batches, starting with 25 local areas across the U.K., including five cities such as Cambridge and Glasgow where trial broadcasts are already underway. The second round will be for northwest England and northeast Wales.

However, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic means there is no date for this licensing process to commence. Ofcom says it will now wait to publish the first advertisements until “a majority of relevant stakeholders consider that they would be able to participate fully in the licensing process.”

It has also not yet concluded full international agreements for the use of spectrum in London and southeast England, which means these areas will not be included until the fourth round of licensing, at least 18 months into the program.

Based on responses to its consultation, the regulator also decided not to require all program services carried by small-scale multiplexes to be broadcast using the DAB+ standard, as had initially been proposed.

The CEO of Digital Radio UK, Ford Ennals, welcomed Ofcom’s statement. “This is good news for radio and good news for listeners, as the expansion of small-scale DAB gives listeners a wider range of smaller stations available on DAB and gives small local stations a path to a digital future,” he said.


A typical small-scale DAB installation at Future Digital Norfolk. Credit: Future Digital Norfolk

“Following the success of the fantastic range of unique and fresh local commercial and community services in the 10 trial areas, we can expect to see many hundreds of local stations joining radio’s digital revolution across the U.K.”

Femi Bankole, the founder of Cosoro Radio, an Afrobeat station based in Manchester, which broadcasts via four small-scale multiplexes, believes that being on DAB has brought more people to the Afrobeat genre.

“Small-scale DAB has provided a richer and scalable platform for Cosoro Radio to extend its reach and introduce the genre to its new listeners, especially the young generation,” Bankole said.

DAB now accounts for 41% of all radio listening in the U.K., and 70% of digital listening. The recent launch of chill-out music station Smooth Chill on national DAB+ means that more than half of all national commercial digital radio stations in the U.K. are broadcasting in DAB+.

There are now 41 national digital commercial stations in total, with 21 broadcasting in DAB+.

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Radio Listening Audiences Rebound Despite Pandemic Impact

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 19:42

Just as people have adjusted their day-to-day living habits under a COVID-19 world, so too have they adjusted their listening behaviors. A series of client webinar surveys held by Nielsen looked at spending intentions, listening habits and perceptions about when the world will return to normal — and found that heavy AM/FM radio listeners may hold a key to kickstarting that engine.

The first key insights that the survey revealed is that radio listening is on the rise, that listeners are tuning in with greater frequency to news/talk formats and that those with greater spending optimism are more likely to be heavy AM/FM radio listeners.

[Read: Amidst Stay-at-Home Orders, Radio Listenership Remains Strong]

“Advertisers who seek to influence shoppers who are ready and willing to spend will find them listening to American AM/FM radio,” said Pierre Bouvard, chief insights officer at Cumulus Media/Westwood One and author of the report.

One of the key findings: radio listening levels rose in the first few weeks of April after seeing a dip during the last few weeks of March. After all of those surveyed said they listened to radio in the first week of March, listener levels dropped significantly — to a low of 67% — in the back half of March as people began sheltering at home. But during the three-week period between late April and mid-May, those levels rose 22% to a high of 82%, perhaps as Americans began searching for information and news about the coronavirus.

The survey also found that the highest level of radio listening occurred during the weekend. “A major finding from Nielsen’s Portable People Meter data is the significant resurgence of crucial weekend listening which occurs as Americans run errands and shop,” Bouvard said.

Those trips to the store for supplies or food correlate with survey data by two geolocation sources: Apple Maps and Geopath. Both reported significant levels of driving trips and miles traveled.

Even during the regular weekday, the majority of listeners were consuming AM/FM radio when they’re out of the home. The study found that 58% of all U.S. AM/FM radio listening in the April PPM market survey was out of home, compared to 71% in March. In April, 27 of Nielsen’s 44 PPM markets had out-of-home listening volumes that were over 60% of total listening.

It’s probably no big surprise to reveal which station formats had the greatest share. When looking at the 45 different markets that were used in the survey, news/talk formats (both commercial and noncommercial) grew by double digit amounts in February, April and March. In February news/talk grew by 12%, in March it grew by 13.3% and in April it grew by 15%.

Nielsen also commissioned a separate survey of 1,000 Americans and asked them what their spending intentions were in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Nielsen identified three consumer segments with varying degrees of post-COVID-19 normalcy: those with a “wait and see” attitude, those with a “proceed with caution” outlook and those with a “ready to go” outlook.

The “wait and see” group were those consumers who do not believe that life is normalizing or that the economy is opening up. The “proceed with caution” consumers are those in the middle when it comes to resumption of the economy. The “ready to go” are those Americans most optimistic about a return to normalcy.

The study found that roughly one-third of those surveyed fall in the “ready to go” category feel positive about life returning to pre-coronavirus norms. Those individuals also had stronger spending intentions.

Across seven categories, the “ready to go” group had high-spend intention indices for purchasing within a month. Within a month, this segment said they were 29% more likely to spend on auto parts and repair, 47% more likely to spend on household services and 43% more likely to spend on home improvement. That group tended to be younger individuals who are employed with kids, work outside the home and spend a lot of time in their vehicle.

One of the study’s major conclusions is that those with greater spending optimism are more likely to be heavy AM/FM radio listeners.

The survey found that heavy AM/FM radio listeners say they will spend more soon. Those individuals who fell into the “ready to go” group were 29% more likely to be heavy AM/FM radio listeners.

Across various consumer categories, heavy AM/FM radio listeners are far more likely to indicate that they will be spending in the near term compared to heavy TV viewers, he said.

Radio bested TV in a number of subsequent areas including the percentage who expect to order take out within the near term, to visit a hair or nail salon, to plan a vacation, and to make a major purchase such as an appliance.

One third of those who referred to themselves as heavy AM/FM radio listeners also said they were more likely purchase an auto or home purchase in the next 12 months.

“There is a growing number of optimistic Americans who feel life is returning to normal,” Bouvard said. “These consumers are ready to be at the forefront of marketplace spending across dozens of categories.”

These high and moderate optimists and their growing consumer confidence are key drivers of the country-wide momentum towards a more normal way of life and spending, he said.


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iHeartMedia’s Q1 Results Dinged by COVID-19

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 13:54

The coronavirus pandemic in the United States squashed any hopes for a good first quarter of 2020 for iHeartMedia.

The radio company reported late last week it saw a deep decline in advertising revenue in March as the COVID-19 pandemic intensified. Revenue through the first three months of this year was $780.6 million, down 1.9% year-over-year driven by the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. Excluding political revenue, that dip was 4.8%, the company said.

The company, which announced sweeping modernization initiatives in February, suffered a $1.65 billion net loss in the first three months of the year, but that figure was in part caused by a readjustment of intangible assets tied to its emergence from bankruptcy in 2019, according to company officials.

[Read: iHeart Offers Programmatic “COVID Recovery Program”]

The media giant reported its traditional radio business revenue declined by 5.2% to $461.6 million, and declined 8.3% excluding the impact of political revenue. Meanwhile, its radio network revenue, which includes Premiere Networks and Total Traffic and Weather, declined 2.6% year-over-year.

iHeartMedia, which owns about 850 radio stations in 150 markets, had about $647 million cash on hand at the end of March 2020, according to the financial report. It has also cut capital expenditures by about $80 million for the remainder of 2020.

Bob Pittman, chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia, spoke on the earnings call and said the year started off with strong growth. “However, revenue began to fall off in March, as it did for most ad supported companies, and that trend became even more pronounced in April, with a sharp decline in ad revenue across almost all of our revenue segments,” Pittman said on the call.

Direct operating expenses for the media company increased 6.6%, driven primarily by incremental costs related to the company’s modernization initiatives, which were incurred mainly in January and February, according to the company’s report. Those expenses also included higher content costs from higher podcasting and digital subscription revenue and higher music license fees and digital royalties.

On the plus side the company says its digital revenue grew by 22.2% compared to the first quarter a year ago, driven by podcasting revenue, which saw an 80% increase.

Pittman says while national and local ad budgets were cut even further in April, advertising sales revenue is beginning to return in markets that are reopening. “Advertising overall and most of our advertising streams have seen a major drop, and the reasons are obvious. Many businesses are shut down. Businesses and brands needed time to rebuild their messages to be relevant in a completely changed world. And companies needed to save money, and many did so by reducing or eliminating ad spend,” he said.

iHeartMedia announced in April it was taking steps to trim about $200 million in costs from its business this year in response to the pandemic. The steps included employee furloughs, wage cuts other initiatives. The $200 million in cost-savings is in addition to $50 million in expected savings achieved through modernization initiatives.


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SiriusXM Will Debut Net Hybrid Radio System in Audi Cars

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 13:42

Satellite radio is about to get an important boost in capability. U.S. car buyers will soon get their first look at the new 360L hybrid radio system from SiriusXM.

The company announced that the platform will debut in ten 2021 model year Audi vehicles that will be in showrooms this fall.

Hybrid radio systems combine over-the-air reception (in this case, via satellite) with online connectivity including streaming content (delivered in this case by Verizon’s 4G LTE network).

Combining OTA service with two-way connectivity has been a dream of many in the radio industry, and there are several initiatives underway to bring that kind of capability to broadcast radio as well. In that context, the launch of 360L seems an important differentiator for satellite radio in the dash.

[Read What NAB’s David Layer said about 360L in “NAB Radio Technologists Look Ahead]

In the announcement, Audi America’s director of connected services Pom Malhotra was quoted saying, “The choices provided by SiriusXM with 360L are nearly unlimited, and they help bolster our technology-forward position among premium automakers.”

Selling points include 10,000 hours of recorded on-demand content such as interviews, shows and live performances; more live channels; and personalized “For You” recommendations and the ability to search for related content.

SiriusXM with 360L will be standard on A6, A7, A8, Q7 and Q8 models, and standard in most trim packages for the A4, A5, Q3, Q5 and all-road models. Those should be in showrooms by fall; other models are expected to be added.

Rodney Pickett, SiriusXM’s senior VP of automotive partnerships, complimented Audi for its “long-established track record as a leader of in-vehicle technology.”


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LiveXLive Media to Acquire PodcastOne

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 12:14

The dynamic podcast market will see an acquisition next month.

LiveXLive Media plans to acquire Courtside Group, owner and operator of PodcastOne, in a deal valued at $18.1 million. The deal is expected to close soon. PodcastOne leader Norm Pattiz will stay on in an executive role.

PodcastOne produces shows like “A&E’s Cold Case Files,” “The Adam Carolla Show” and “The Big Podcast With Shaq.” It says it generates 2.1 billion downloads a year and produces 350 weekly episodes. The company reported gross revenue of $27.5 million last year.

According to Robert Ellin, chairman and CEO of LiveXLive, this move will complement its music platform of streaming audio, on-demand video and live event performances. LiveXLive Media’s offerings include LiveXLive, a “live social music network” consisting of streams and on-demand programs from festivals like Rock in Rio and the Montreux Jazz Festival. In addition, LiveXLive plans to integrate PodcastOne into its music platform.

According to the two companies, 32% of Americans are now listening to podcasts on a monthly basis, with advertising revenue projected to surpass $1 billion by 2021.

[Read Radio World’s 2019 interview, “Norm Pattiz: Podcasting’s Inflection Point Is Yet to Come”]

The exact path of consolidation of the companies, both headquartered in Los Angeles, is to be announced. They did say that PodcastOne will bring in an experienced ad sales team, tripling the size of the LiveXLive sales force. However it also looks like there will also be cuts: “Planned consolidation of teams is anticipated to generate cost synergies and combine back-end support and office locations.”

The companies announced that PodcastOne’s founder and its executive chairman, Norm Pattiz, will join LiveXLive as a “significant” shareholder and remain as executive chairman of PodcastOne. Pattiz is best known as founder of the Westwood One radio network.

Under the terms of the agreement, LiveXLive will acquire 100% of the equity interests of Courtside Group and issue to stockholders of PodcastOne approximately 5.45 million restricted shares of LiveXLive’s common stock.

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