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IBC Sneak Peek: Win-Group Offers Scalable Solutions 

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 12:00

Win-Group Software says the WinMedia radio and TV automation software, on show at IBC2019, unifies the content chain by managing all aspects of media from acquisition and production, through to distribution, marketing, planning and dissemination.

The company promotes the software as a “complete solution,” which allows users to ingest and produce content for radio, TV, web and mobile in a single system.

By adding the WinCam module, the company offer its own visual radio system for radio broadcasters and easy-to-use camera management for visual radio.

WinCam allows users to handle up to eight cameras or inputs and broadcast the results on platforms such as YouTube and Facebook Live.

In addition, Win-Group offers the WinMam integrated newsroom computer system that is designed to let users manage library, logger, voice track or playlist functions via internet.

Finally, the firm’s WinSales web-based CRM manages all client sales activities. WinSales is a scalable solution that promises to streamline booking and billing operations by providing real-time online booking, tailor-made customer relationship management and a wide range of planning, management, billing and reporting options.

IBC Stand: 6.A26

Info: www.winmedia.org

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Emergency Streaming on the Cheap

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 09:56

It can be a dreaded call: “The STL is down,” or “The stream isn’t functioning.” Usually the goal is to get something back up — fast. It may not be perfect audio, but good (and reliable), and at least you are back on the air. Consultant and projects engineer with Chicago’s Scope+Focus, Len Watson, has been down this road and offers a solution: If you can locate an old computer (desktop, laptop, Windows, Linux) you can put together an audio backup that can be fired up in little time, and for about zero dollars. Translation: You’re a hero to the GM.

For two different clients, Len has found old laptops in storage, and pressed them into backup service. One of these computers is a really old AMD Sempron (see Fig. 1) which actually took Windows 10. Len also converted a Lenova T42 (that’s not a typo) with Windows 10 and it works, too.

Fig. 1: Len Watson of Scope+Focus put together this emergency streamer kit.

Once you’ve secured that computer, head to Icecast and SourceForge and get Icecast 2 and the Icecast GUI and BUTT respectively. Install Icecast, customizing the XML file, changing passwords, etc. Then load BUTT (it stands for Broadcasters Using This Tool); and customize it, selecting the stream rate and format. You’ll also want to enter the same password you gave Icecast.

Note, too, that BUTT will record an archive on the local hard drive if you want. Now, run audio and Ethernet to the computer and you have a cheap standby streamer. Icecast will tell you what the address is, and you can make it public or private.

In short, it will “find its way” to the web. You may have to open a couple of ports in a firewall, but it’s aggressive in getting through. If your back’s against the wall, you’re on the air with just that. If you drag Icecast and BUTT into the startup menu (for Windows, run shell:startup), the machine will begin streaming when it boots up.

Here’s a neat idea for contract engineers. Len has set up an HP ProBook 450G as a loaner/rental for his clients. The equipment pouch includes the computer, power supply, Digidesign Mbox2 audio interface, a couple of Ethernet cables and a number of audio adapters. It kept one station on for about six days.

Of course, you can make it better. Adding a used Mbox2 will improve the sound over an onboard sound card. They’re about $25 to $35 shipped on eBay. Len suggests you don’t buy an Mbox1.

Another tip — changing the name of Kastor.exe to .ex_ will disable Icecast’s internal audio recorder/importer so it won’t go hunting for something to record.

Len also cautions to be prepared for the “Nag Screen” that pops up looking for donations to SourceForge. You can close it out but they’re just looking for 20 bucks. If this kept a station on the air, have the GM send ’em some money — it’s worth it!

If you don’t want a lot of control of the stream — fewer format choices and having to adjust audio with the computer’s software slider — you can go with NCH’s Broadwave Streaming Tool. It will set you up nicely, too. It’s a pay program, but NCH makes a pretty trustworthy suite of audio and video tools.

If you’re using this setup to get your signal to the transmitter, you may want to install a VPN for security, too.

Here’s the SourceForge link: https://sourceforge.net/projects/butt/

The link for Icecast: http://icecast.org/download/

Other helpful links include the Mbox2 driver download page: https://tinyurl.com/8b3gmdc; and the NCH Software Broadwave Streaming Audio Software page: https://www.nch.com.au/streaming/index.html.

Although not designed for full-time use, having one of these set up and ready to go as a backup is cheap, yet invaluable, insurance. Thanks, Len, for the great ideas.

***

 

Sealing conduit is a must to avoid vermin, water and trash from incursion. Although foam or putty are satisfactory, removing the “plug” to get other wires into the pipe can be messy. Plus, rodents will chew right through the foam unless you include a stainless steel or copper wool component.

Consulting Engineer Charles “Buc” Fitch, P.E. offers another idea especially for unused pipe or conduit — use a pipe stopper. These are cost-effective seals that you insert in the conduit or pipe and when you hand tighten the nut, the rubber gasket expands to seal the opening. Of course, these are ideal when you are capping off an end, because if you have cable entering the pipe or conduit, you will need to carve a small notch in the plastic to permit the cable to pass, but it will keep the rodents and snakes out.

These handy devices can be found at Newman Tools —http://www.newmantools.com/cob/nylon.htm.

But you’ll also find them at the big box stores as well as plumbing suppliers. Buc advises if you buy these plugs locally, to take a small piece of the pipe with you, to insure you get the right inner diameter size.

One last thought from Buc — if you have those metal coax feedthrough ports for coax at your transmitter site, these stoppers are ideal for plugging unused ports, and they are a lot quicker to remove than the rubber boots held in place with a hose clamp!

Contribute to Workbench. You’ll help y our fellow engineers, and qualify for SBE recertification credit. Send Workbench tips and high-resolution photos to johnpbisset@gmail.com.

Author John Bisset has spent 50 years in the broadcasting industry and is still learning. He handles Western US Radio Sales for the Telos Alliance. He holds CPBE Certification status with the SBE, and is a past recipient of the SBE’s Educator of the Year Award.

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IBC Sneak Peek: DEVA Broadcast Brings DB4005 to IBC

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 04:00

DB4005 is the latest monitoring product from DEVA Broadcast.

The company explains that the unit makes use of sophisticated DSP algorithms and provides SDR FM tuner-based signal processing. “Its powerful digital filters are a guarantee of precision and enable the FM signal to be accurately and repeatedly analyzed with each device,” the company adds.

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A standout feature of the DB4005 is the MPX input, which allows users to monitor external composite signals, regardless of whether they are from a composite STL receiver/stereo FM encoder, or from an off-air source. In addition, the Loudness Meter allows for measurements to be shown as defined by ITU BS.1770-4 and EBU R128 recommendations — the DB4005 supports both standards.

DB4005 is easy to use and packs a host of features. These include TCP/IP connectivity, audio streaming, and automatic alerts for operation outside of predefined ITU-R ranges, as well as GSM connectivity.

IBC Stand: 8.D79

Info: www.devabroadcast.com 

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Radio Show Announces Tech Program

Thu, 08/29/2019 - 17:43
Gary Cavell

The organizers of the upcoming Radio Show have released information for “Tech Tuesday,” a day featuring sessions and a keynote dedicated to engineers and technical personnel attending the show.

Scheduled for Sept. 24, consultant/engineer Gary Cavell, recipient of the 2019 NAB Radio Engineering Achievement Award at the spring show, will deliver the keynote. He said, “I’m excited and honored to be presenting the keynote address at the first-ever Radio Show Tech Tuesday. Frankly, there is so much to talk about it’s hard to pick a topic. I’ve decided to focus on how technology is evolving in radio, on some of the technology projects being pursued by NAB PILOT, and perhaps most importantly, the value of continuing education and mentoring for radio engineers.”

[Read: Radio Show Adds Gary Vee and Anderson to Line Up]

Radio World Editor in Chief Paul McLane will head up a session entitled, “What’s Next in Radio Tech.” Joining him will Michele Laven of iHeartMedia, Steve Shultis of New York Public Radio, Nick Piggott of RadioDNS, engineering consultant Bert Goldman and Joe D’Angelo of Xperi.

Another session will look at the possibility of digital AM broadcasting. The NAB’s Vice President of Advanced Engineering David Layer will discuss the topic with Dave Kolesar of WTOP(FM)/WFED(AM) and Russ Mundschenk of Xperi.

On-site radio equipment companies and Tech Tuesday sponsors presenting breakout sessions include Comrex, Dielectric, ENCO, GatesAir, Nautel, RCS and The Telos Alliance.

The Radio Show is Sept. 24–26 in Dallas.

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Wayne Pecena Elected as SBE President

Thu, 08/29/2019 - 14:41

The Society of Broadcast Engineers has announced the results of its 2019 election for the national board of directors, disclosing that Wayne Pecena has been chosen as the next president of the SBE, replacing Jim Leifer, who becomes the immediate past president.

Pecena, a member of SBE’s Chapter 99 in College Station, Texas, is the assistant director of educational broadcast services at Texas A&M University, where he also serves as the director of engineering for public broadcast stations KAMU FM/TV. Pecena will serve a one-year term as the society’s president.

[Read: Security Is a Lot of Nonstop Work]

“I look to continue the strategic planning implementation work that began under Pres. Leifer, while insuring that the future certification, continuing education and professional service needs of all SBE members are met as our industry and technology continues to change,” Pecena said.

Three other officers were elected to one-year terms: Andrea Cummis (Chapter 15, New York; Roseland, N.J.) was voted vice president; Kevin Trueblood (Chapter 90, Southwest, Fla.; Ft. Myers, Fla.) will become the secretary; and Ted Hand (Chapter 45, Charlotte, N.C.) was voted to the position of treasurer.

Six individuals were also elected to serve two-year terms on the board of directors: Mark Fehlig (Chapter 40 San Francisco; Walnut Creek, Calif.); Charles Keiler (Chapter 53 South Florida; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.); Geary Morrill (Chapter 91 Central Michigan; Saginaw, Mich.); Jason Ornellas (Chapter 43 Sacramento, Calif.); Chris Tarr (Chapter 28 Milwaukee); and Dan Whealy (Chapter 96 Rockford; Waterloo, Iowa).

The newly elected officers and board members will begin their terms on Oct. 16, where they and the previously elected board members will continue to develop policy and programs for its members.

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Battle Lines are Drawn in LPFM Interference Rules Order

Thu, 08/29/2019 - 14:21

Proponents for and against changes to the LPFM interference complaint process continue to debate the merits of the proposed changes — with one technical consulting firm pointing out that use of one particular measurement radio could usher in a series of “dire unintended consequences.”

In May the Federal Communications Commission adopted new proposals to streamline the rules relating to interference caused by FM translators and adopted specific proposals to expedite the translator complaint resolution.

[Read: FCC Finalizes FM Translator Interference Rules]

Among those changes were the decision to allow FM translators to resolve interference issues by changing channels, to standardize information that must be submitted, to establish new interference complaint resolution procedures, and to establish a new outer contour limit (outside of which within which interference complaints will not be considered).

But in the weeks since then, organizations have called on the FCC to reconsider its stance. The LPFM Coalition said that the FCC rulemaking fails to meet certain statutory requirements within the Communications Act  and the Local Community Radio Act of 2010.

Among other concerns, the coalition said that the rulemaking fails to provide improvements for LPFM stations, that it ignores multiple listener interference complaints if they come from a single building, and that the new rules require that interference complaints contain data points that measure underlying interference using a calculation rubric that excludes any measure of interference, a move that the coalition said “is essentially a rule that negates itself.”

That calculation, known as an undesired-to-desired ratio (U/D ratio) for determining interference, was also brought up in a separate filing by the technical consulting firm Skywaves Consulting LLC.

That consulting firm said the imposition of standard U/D ratios using standard FCC contour methodology could usher in a series of  “dire unintended consequences.”

Skywaves said the use of a contour-based U/D study for each complaint is certainly useful for complaints outside the protected contour. But using it within a protected contour is a mistake.

“The U/D ratio decreases within the protected contour as you approach the protected transmitter. Therefore, it appears that the new rule would eliminate from consideration all complaints of co-channel and first-adjacent channel translator interference within a protected station’s protected contour,” the Skywaves filing said.

“This is clearly not an intended result, and this portion of the rule should be reworded to make it clear that the U/D ratio criterion applies only outside the protected contour,” the firm said.

According to counsel for the LPFM Coalition, the commission should stay the specific rulemaking aspects that it specified and either rescind those provisions or issue a notice of further rulemaking to fix them.

The low-power station KGIG(LP) in Salida, Calif., agreed with the coalition’s stance, saying that conclusions in the rulemaking conflict with precedent and fact and could contravene the Administrative Procedure Act.

The LPFM Coalition’s stance also has support from REC Networks, which expressed specific concern with the use of a –20 dBu U/D ratio for determining interference. “This standard, coupled with the 45 dBu outer limit, would mean that a station could formulate an interference complaint in areas where the new FM translator only places a 26 dBu contour,” REC Networks said. “This can open the door to more fraudulent and frivolous claims against very distant translators.”

But other organizations disagree of several of those issues.

The National Association of Broadcasters said the LPFM Coalition “simply rehashes previously rejected arguments” that the Local Community Radio Act of 2010 requires equivalent regulation of LPFM and FM translator services.

The NAB pressed the FCC to reject the coalition’s concern over the rule change that now says that translator interference complaints must be based on multiple listener complaints using separate receivers at separate locations (multiple listeners complaints from a single building are now to be counted as a single complaint).

The NAB also said the coalition’s argument fails to meet a necessary list of four standards for a stay. The coalition responded soon after to say the “NAB is wrong on the law” as no mandatory stringent four-prong test applies.

The NAB did not address the U/D issue in its first filing. In a subsequent filing, the NAB said that it agrees with the Skywaves assessment that the order’s requirement of a contour-based U/D study for every interference complaint could unintentionally impede consideration of bona fide translator complaints.

Another view came from a joint group of broadcasters who praised the commission’s order as a balanced approach but they also expressed concern about the U/D threshold.

The order will undoubtedly bring more consistency, predictability and speed to the process for resolving FM translator interference complaints, said a group that includes Beasley Media Group, Cox Media Group, Entercom Communications, iHeart Communications, Neuhoff Corp. and Radio One Licenses, which are licensees of both primary FM stations and FM translator stations.

But the commenters expressed concern that there is a real (though they said rare) possibility that the U/D threshold for actionable complaints could negatively impact legitimate interference complaints based on listeners within a desired station’s protected contour.

According to the joint group of broadcasters, the commission should consider exempting listening locations from the U/D showing if they are within the desired station’s protected contour.

Comments on the issue are being field as part of Media Bureau Docket 18-119.

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Voice of America Begins Rohingya Language Programing

Thu, 08/29/2019 - 13:43

Voice of America has launched its first radio program in Rohingya, the language of more than 800,000 refugees who fled Myanmar and are living in camps across the border in Bangladesh.

Amanda Bennett

Many international organizations are working to provide the refugees with necessities such as food, clean water and shelter, but there is another critical need facing these refugees — the need for information. When I visited the largest camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, last year, many who had just recently been driven from their homes, wanted to know what was going on back in Myanmar. They wanted to know what the international community was thinking about them, or if they had been forgotten.

The life for these and other refugees and displaced persons is extremely difficult. They are basically stateless, homeless, with little opportunity for education or jobs, and few hopes for the future. They are very isolated and want to know what, if anything, is being done to try to resolve their crises.

VOA’s new Rohingya program is called “Lifeline.” It airs for 30 minutes, five days a week, on shortwave and medium-wave frequencies. The program focuses on the lives and needs of the refugees, providing them with valuable information about the situation in the camps — security issues, food rations, education and health. In addition, a daily segment of the program offers the refugees the opportunity to share their stories and try to connect with relatives in other camps.

There is also a need to address rumors in the camps. Refugees are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking and recruitment by extremist groups. In Bangladesh, they also must deal with natural disasters such as flooding and landslides, especially during the rainy season.

We’ve already had feedback expressing great appreciation for programming in the Rohingya language, and for giving refugees a window to the outside world.

VOA Director Amanda Bennett with two Rohingya broadcasters Mohammed Hussain (on her left) and Sami Ahmed (on right), Bangla Language Service Chief Roquia Haider and the Bangla language service group.

Why did VOA choose to use SW and MW? While there is Internet access in the refugee camp, and limited power supply for televisions or computers, the camp-based refugees, however, share a practice that has been common throughout VOA’s history: They gather around shared radios and listen as a group, much as SW listeners did in years past.

Rohingya is now one of 22 VOA language services that still broadcast radio programming via SW and MW frequencies. Most of these are targeting audiences in Africa and South or East Asia.

VOA’s distribution strategy has evolved over the years to meet changes on the ground in its markets. Where we can get placement on local television, radio, or online affiliates, we do. Where we can build our own FM towers, we do. And in areas where VOA content is aggressively blocked, such as China and Iran, we employ circumvention technology.

A growing proportion of VOA’s audience is now accessing content via mobile devices and social media platforms. In fact, while still the smallest share overall, the digital audience is the fastest growing segment of VOA’s audience over the past five years.

The weekly radio audience has also grown during that time frame, increasing 23 million to a total of 107.9 million. During that same period, VOA’s television audience doubled to more than 174 million, accounting for the largest share of audience.

VOA will continue to adapt to changing market environments in an effort to provide truthful, fact-based news and information to those needing it most: those with little or no access to a free press and those who are inundated with misinformation and disinformation from state-run media or extremist groups.

The growing number of refugees and displaced persons are among those with the greatest need. With numbers now totaling a combined 70 million globally — more than the population of France — and with many children knowing no other life than that in a refugee camp, their needs will continue to grow.

One other way VOA is helping refugees is through its popular Learning English program — another one of our historic practices. Prior to launching the Rohingya language broadcasts, a VOA Learning English team traveled to the Rohingya refugee camps at the invitation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The VOA instructors offered six days of intensive training on teaching techniques and methods for 100 selected English teachers. The teachers, in turn, will use the acquired knowledge and the VOA curriculum to train another 5,000 of their colleagues in the camps.

Amanda Bennett is director of Voice of America.

The post Voice of America Begins Rohingya Language Programing appeared first on Radio World.

CPB Funds Noncom Election Reporting/Engagement Effort

Wed, 08/28/2019 - 18:52

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is looking to promote community engagement in the 2020 elections.

CPB, the independent authority that distributes government funding for noncommercial media, will announce at its Pubic Radio Programmers Department Conference in Minneapolis Wednesday evening that it is giving $1.9 million to noncommercial KCUR(FM) Kansas City to head up “Election 2020: Listening to America.”

Election 2020 is a national listener engagement effort in which noncommercial stations will collaborate to gather data and sponsor “listening events,” public forums and outreach, including via social media.

One goal is to provide election reporting that highlights different community perspectives on specific issues via interactive maps, graphs and other visual representations that work across multiple sites and stations.

NPR and PBS will also be able to tap into those perspectives for their national reporting.

KCUR will create a team to coordinate the Election 2020 efforts.

“As a public radio station in the geographic center of the country and a leader and member of several highly successful public media journalism collaborations, KCUR is well-positioned to lead this effort,” said KCUR GM Nico Leone of the grant.

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Nostalgie Vlaanderen Goes to the Beach

Wed, 08/28/2019 - 16:00

MIDDELKERKE, Belgium — For the 6th edition of the “Nostalgie Beach Festival,” commercial radio station Nostalgie Vlaanderen installed an on-air studio next to the festival stage, boosting its visibility and guaranteeing proximity to the audience.

The Nostalgie Beach studio used a connection between the Lawo Ruby consoles in Middelkerke and Antwerp. All photos. MMPress

Over 15,000 people attended the annual event that took place on August 10. With bands like Wet, Wet Wet, Fischer Z , Flemish top band Clouseau and Status Quo performing, the festival’s line-up perfectly matched Nostalgie’s on-air format.

For the station’s live broadcasts, between 10:00 a.m. and midnight, Nostalgie made use of a split Lawo Ruby AoIP mixing console for the first time. The system mixed the microphone and live sources, providing full remote control of the broadcaster’s Lawo Ruby located in its main on-air studio in Antwerp.

Luk de Groote (L) and Tom Callebaut (R) teamed up for the beachside on-air set-up.

TECHNICAL CONFIGURATION

“The twin Lawo Ruby set-up allowed us to define remotely controllable channels,” said Tom Callebaut of Radiostudio.be , who provided the technical set-up in Middelkerke. “We established a secure VPN tunnel from the beach to our main studio to ensure a glitch-free and secure connection between both Lawo Ruby consoles. The remote control ran on the EmBER+ protocol allowing us fader-start and level-control of the Zenon-playout solution in Antwerp. We established the screens and human interaction on the playout system by using the Teamviewer software.”

“The visibility of the on-air studio was essential,” said Tom Klerkx, managing director of Nostalgie Vlaanderen.

Luk De Groote, technical manager for Nostalgie Vlaanderen said they developed the set-up in close collaboration with Radiostudio.be. “The system was first used and tested during NRJ België’s morning broadcast when we aired from a yacht in the Antwerp port,” De Groote explained. “We further elaborated the configuration in view of the live broadcast at the Beach Festival.”

Callebaut added that the festival’s technical layout was nearly identical to that of the main studio. “We used two Telos AoIP Zip One codecs to link the audio from both studios. One channeled the audio from the presenter, audience and artists’ interviews from the remote studio. The second one returned the audio signal that was played out in Antwerp. This offered the hosts a “normal studio experience” one they are used to,” he said.

[Read: Belgium’s Wallonia-Brussels Federation Redefines Radio Landscape] 

“Thanks to the EmBER+ link, our engineer Jan Hodister in Antwerp was able to see all the fader movements, made on the beachside on-air console. When and if necessary, he could adjust the faders as well, immediately visible on the board in Middelkerke, as the link was in full duplex,” he said. STATION VISIBILITY

DJ Marcia presented the station’s afternoon program live from Nostalgie Beach.

Zenon’s files were played from the main studio in Antwerp. “The big advantage of this remote-approach is that the played audio is not coming from the remote studio – without any audible effect on the broadcast. In case of an interference, the engineer in Antwerp takes over. With the audio already coming from the Antwerp studio, the listeners won’t notice any problem on the air. We’ve anticipated this in case of a connection drop,” explained Callebaut. “While the connection is being re-established, the radio show continues from our Antwerp studio so the engineers can investigate and work on the problem.”

In addition to the station’s musical program and interviews, Nostalgie Vlaanderen also broadcast live snippets from the festival’s stage. “We get a live mix from the FOH console — every recording is checked by the artists’ managements for clearance. The authorized .WAV files are then used during the live broadcast, offering live footage from most bands that played on the festival,” added De Groote.

For Tom Klerkx, managing director of Nostalgie Vlaanderen, the station’s visibility was a crucial element throughout the one-day festival.

“At most other festivals, participating radio stations are not very visible. This year, we were close to the stage and the audience was able to see the presenters and the radio studio. We invited listeners to the panoramic studio as well,” he added.

The post Nostalgie Vlaanderen Goes to the Beach appeared first on Radio World.

“Don’t Be Afraid of AoIP”

Wed, 08/28/2019 - 12:03

AoIP has touched thousands of radio and audio facilities to date, but the audio over IP landscape continues to evolve and grow. Radio World’s new ebook “AoIP for 2020” — our biggest ebook ever — asked manufacturers and industry experts about trends and best practices.

Aaron Farnham

Aaron Farnham is the chief engineer for Bonneville Salt Lake City and former chief for Bonneville Phoenix; he has been in radio engineering since he was 16.

Radio World: What is your company’s philosophy in 2019 about audio over IP? What equipment are you using?
Aaron Farnham: AoIP is the next evolution in audio and the death of analog audio, with a few exceptions, i.e. microphones, speakers and headphones. The capability to pass hundreds of audio channels, status and GPIO down one Cat-6 cable drastically reduces the amount of cable needed to operate a facility.

Being able to take one feed from your console and take it all the way into the transmitter without ever leaving the AoIP world means no conversions take place. There are no chances for sample rate issues. For every box you had to go through in the past, you added delay because every box needs to re-clock the signal.

We use Wheatstone LXE for our consoles, Telos VX for phones and we are working with Comrex on the Access multirack.

RW: What features do you want to see or anticipate from manufacturers?
Farnham: AoIP needs to be more plug-and-play. AES67 allows the devices to talk to each other but you need to know the multicast address for everything. This leaves the potential for collisions since no two systems talk directly to each other.

I would love to see integration with video, as more stations do live video; it would get rid of the need for so many converter boxes.

Read the free ebook “AoIP for 2020” under the Resource Center tab at radioworld.com.

RW: How have AoIP trends affected design of technical centers, rack rooms and control rooms?
Farnham: Because of AoIP you need far less space in your rack rooms and control rooms. In the control room you are able to use one rack because equipment can live in the rack room without large amounts of wiring. AoIP allows many channels of audio and logic over one Ethernet cable. In the rack room, redundant power and network are a great idea. Systems are getting smaller. In technical centers you can have all audio come through your center, leaving the ability to monitor all streams at once with visual and audible alerts.

RW: What should someone new to AoIP need to know?
Farnham: Don’t be afraid. A well-laid-out plan will have you running AoIP fast. Manufacturers are happy to help you lay out your system. Think about your sources, lay out your air chain and write it down. Network switches are key to your AoIP system; quality switches will make your life better and help with troubleshooting later on.

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

The post “Don’t Be Afraid of AoIP” appeared first on Radio World.

IBC Exhibitor Viewpoint: Rich Redmond, GatesAir and Carlo Bombelli, GatesAir Srl

Wed, 08/28/2019 - 08:57

IBC2019 is almost here. Between now and then Radio World will conduct several short Q&As with manufacturers about their plans and offerings, to help you get the most out of the big annual trade show. Rich Redmond is president and managing director, International, GatesAir, and Carlo Bombelli is executive technologist, GatesAir Srl.

Rich Redmond

Radio World: How has business been for the company since last year’s IBC Show?

Rich Redmond: The global business for GatesAir remains strong. We had exceptionally strong performance in the United States with the spectrum repack, where we captured the lion’s share of that business. We have also experienced tremendous international growth, which was driven by a renewed strategic focus worldwide. We made investments in people and infrastructure in every region around the globe. The acquisition of ONEtastic establishes our European headquarters with sales, service, manufacturing and development. All of this highlights the commitment we’ve made to the global transmission market.

Radio World: What are you hearing from your customers about their business outlook this year? In what areas should we expect growth or the most interesting projects?

Carlo Bombelli: When you talk to customers around the world, the implementation of new technology varies broadcaster by broadcaster, country by country. The reallocation of UHF spectrum, and 5G implementation from global carriers, are two interesting examples. Meanwhile, some countries are working on their first transition from analog to digital, while others are moving to advanced standards like DVB-T2 and ATSC 3.0. In radio, we continue to see new FM licensing in different countries, the migration to DAB for digital radio, and a stronger embrace of the IT infrastructure to support audio contribution and distribution.

We are seeing significant adoption of new technology that enables lower total cost of ownership in all of these examples. We’re helping our customer realize those savings as they transition to new systems, as broadcast transmitters are substantially more efficient today than 10–15 years ago. Broadcasters and network operators are also using these technological advances to streamline their own operations.

Radio World: Within the last year or so the two large station ownership groups have emerged from bankruptcy. Are you seeing any increase in equipment sales or interest? What is your feeling for the overall health of the radio industry?

Redmond: The market dynamics between the TV and radio businesses are generally different. Spectrum policy dictates much of what happens in television, from spectrum repack initiatives to mobile data services. These dynamics don’t really affect the radio business, and we see healthy global opportunity for radio. India continues to rollout new commercial FM licenses, we see expansion of digital radio in Europe and Australia, and general advancements of radio networks in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

Carlo Bombelli

Worldwide, we are also seeing broadcasters update their existing infrastructure with higher efficiency technologies. This was the case with one of our most recent project wins, Nova Entertainment in Australia, which cited operational efficiency improvements as a major drive in their purchase requirements. At minimum, investments such as these will keep the radio market steady, while accelerated adoption of DAB and HD Radio will keep the market moving forward.

Radio World: You’ve been active in the equipment manufacturing market for years. What’s the biggest problem or challenge facing manufacturers right now? Does the trade row between the United States and China greatly affect you? 

Redmond: I think many of the same challenges that our customers face certainly impact broadcasting manufacturers. We see fewer and fewer young people entering the RF broadcasting field, and those that do are being spread wider and further. Customers are increasingly looking to their suppliers as engineering resources as a result. We are addressing these dynamics through stronger training and education initiatives. We have developed some online training classes that specifically teach RF skills to young engineers that possess IT backgrounds.

There is no question that the recent round of tariffs in China affect the global electronics market. I wouldn’t say that GatesAir has been heavily impacted, but the tariffs ultimately ripple through just about everything that’s being made in electronics, including broadcast equipment.

RW: What new goodies will your company be showing? Why should attendees visit your stand?

Bombelli: We’re excited to be bringing our high-efficiency, software-defined TV and DAB radio transmitters for global broadcast standards to the GatesAir stand, 8.D60. We have some unique solutions for DAB, including a new high-efficiency liquid-cooled VHF solution, and a multicarrier transmitter that will broadcast up to three signals in a single transmitter, greatly simplifying multinetwork deployment.

We also have a very innovative pole-mounted transmitter that is ideal for areas that lack a transmitter shelter. The system mounts outdoors on the leg of a tower or a mast. It’s a high-efficiency, weatherproof system that revolutionizes the cost of deploying gap fillers and transposers, for example.

Redmond: On the Intraplex side, we have added video over IP transport to our Intraplex Ascent platform that was introduced at the NAB Show. The Ascent SRT Gateway is new for IBC and is ideal for broadcasters to securely transport high-bandwidth video from a centralized IT infrastructure to multiple transmission sites. All of these systems will be shown at Stand 8.D60.

Radio World: Going by the interest on our website, AoIP technology is on the top of the list for product acquisition and upgrades. Is that something you are seeing and if so, how are you addressing that? 

Redmond: Audio over IP has been a big part of our portfolio for many years. Our Intraplex networking business began innovating for this space more than a decade ago with NetXpress, and our next-generation IP Link codecs have evolved to support virtually any audio contribution and distribution need. This includes innovations for AES67, MPX FM composition and digital AES192 transport, and now with Ascent we can manage audio over IP transport from standard computing platforms in the broadcasters’ IT infrastructure.

We are helping our customers manage DAB networking through dual EDI inputs, which take the IP transport stream for digital radio and put it directly into the exciter, lowering the broadcaster’s cost of deployment. And when sending these streams over highly complex networks, our Intraplex Dynamic Stream Splicing application adds another layer of transport reliability by duplicating streams over common or disparate network paths.

Radio World: What do you anticipate will be the most significant technology trend at the 2019 IBC Show? 

Bombelli: Continuous improvements in operational efficiency. That includes energy efficiency in transmitters, but it all comes down to total cost of ownership. This is why we hear from so many customers that are interested in our outdoor pole-mounted transmitters, because these can really transform how TV and DAB radio services are deployed. And in general, they want modular, lightweight and resilient solutions that consume less space and energy.

Redmond: Using IP for content delivery, as well as remote control and monitoring, remains a significant focus at IBC. We continue to hear from more broadcasters that want the flexibility to control transmitters and manage data over the IP network. Our Intraplex IPConnect solution offers some interesting applications in that regard.

Radio World: Will you be attending any sessions or looking forward to any events?

Redmond: We do our best to participate in every facet of the show, but first and foremost IBC is a venue for us to meet with customers from around the world and help to solve their problems. We try to be very customer-focused, but we certainly try to take advantage of opportunities on the cutting-edge. IBC is second to none when it comes to offering new and innovative topics presented by some of the world’s market-leading technologists.

Radio World: You’re a show veteran, how has the show changed since your first visit?

Bombelli: The types of visitors have changed over time. We don’t see as many big groups from the same companies as we used to, and certainly consolidation in the market has contributed to that change. But we do see a nice mix of commercial and government public service broadcasters, as well as network operators. IBC remains the best place to meet our customers.

Redmond: This is also an excellent opportunity to meet with our channel partners who travel from many countries to attend IBC. I would add that the way technology has changed has also contributed to fewer visitors by the year. It’s undeniable that the last five years have seen a merging of standard computing and IT platforms with broadcast-specific applications. The days of broadcast products being relatively unique and hardware-based have transitioned to more software-based solutions.

Radio World: Finally, how has the ONEtastic post-acquisition process been going?

Redmond: It’s been going very well from the integration perspective. We just had our global sales team at the GatesAir Srl facility in Italy for training. We have been hiring new staff for that facility so that we have more resources on the ground in Europe. Our pipeline of opportunities has grown significantly. It’s a very exciting time.

Bombelli: We couldn’t be more excited and energized to become part of the GatesAir family, and our presence will certainly be felt on the IBC stand.

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The post IBC Exhibitor Viewpoint: Rich Redmond, GatesAir and Carlo Bombelli, GatesAir Srl appeared first on Radio World.

FCC Moves to Revoke Licenses of Broadcasters Who Missed Regulatory Payments

Tue, 08/27/2019 - 17:57

Broadcasters who fail to pay delinquent regulatory fees to the Federal Communications Commission may find their licenses in danger of being revoked.

The FCC recently initiated proceedings against three broadcasters to revoke their licenses after the FCC said the broadcasters failed to pay certain regulatory fees, related interest, administrative costs and penalties that are owed to the commission.

On Aug. 27, the commission sent a letter to Heidelberg Broadcasting, which is licensee of WVOL(AM) in Berry Hill, Tenn. According to the commission, Heidelberg failed to pay regulatory dues for fiscal years 2007, 2008 and 2009 for a total of $10,902.35.

On the same day, the commission sent a similar letter to Christian Broadcasting, licensee for KDLA(AM) in De Ridder, La., for failure to pay delinquent regulatory fees and associated penalties. The commission said that Christian Broadcasting failed to pay regulatory fees for 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 for a total of $7,815.05.

The commission also reached out to The Sportzmax, too, licensee of WDSP(AM) in De Funiak Springs, Fla., for failure to pay delinquent regulatory fees in 2010, 2011 and 2012 for a total of $2,521.56.

Each licensee also owes the commission 25% in late payment penalties for each missed payment.

In addition to financial penalties, the FCC has the authority to revoke authorizations for failure to pay regulatory fees in a timely fashion. The commission has given the licensees 60 days to pay all outstanding regulatory fee debt or to show cause as to why the debt should be waived.

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The post FCC Moves to Revoke Licenses of Broadcasters Who Missed Regulatory Payments appeared first on Radio World.

Cumulus/WWO Among Those Rejecting Fiber Suggestion as Replacement for C-Band

Tue, 08/27/2019 - 14:02

Earlier this month two of the nation’s largest radio broadcasting companies called on the Federal Communications Commission to reject one particular proposal that’s being suggested when it comes to usage of C-band spectrum.

Cumulus Media and Westwood One responded to an FCC request for comments on a proposal presented by ACA Connects Coalition. The ACA proposal suggests reallocating 370 MHz of C-band spectrum by moving broadcasters to terrestrial fiber delivery instead.

Cumulus and Westwood One expressed concerns about the ACA proposal both from a timing and reliability standpoint, saying the 18-month time frame proposed by ACA for installing a reliable fiber option is unrealistic. “Providing the facilities, data centers, and cable headends with the necessary equipment requires a considerable amount of effort, design, deployment of resources, and testing before any such facility can be put into service,” the two radio broadcasters said. “Agreements would also need to be negotiated and executed to ensure that the content and properties are appropriately protected. All of these matters would need to be in place before any fiber could begin to be deployed.”

[Read: NAB Calls ACA Connects’ C-Band Proposal “Ill-Conceived”]

The company’s second major concern involves reliability.

According to Cumulus and Westwood One, fiber cannot replicate the 99.99% reliability rating that C-band uplinks provide. “Fiber does not have the same combination of efficiency and reliability as the C-band for content delivery,” the companies said.

“The reach of fiber generally has been limited to a few hundred of the largest metropolitan areas and, thus, has not served as a substitute for the nationwide footprint of the C-band satellite infrastructure, at least to this point,” the companies said.

Westwood One said many of its affiliates are small-market broadcasters located in rural areas who do not have access to a terrestrial network such as fiber or high-speed internet. “[This] leaves C-band as the only alternative option,” the companies said.

“If existing earth stations were forced to use fiber as an alternative for the distribution of video content, the result would leave cable systems, and possibly broadcasters as well, in thousands of smaller cities, towns, and rural areas with no affordable means to access the programming they now provide to their respective communities, assuming they would be able to access that programming at all,” the two said.

The comments are part of a larger record of responses about ACA’s proposal to refarm some users of the C-band spectrum to a terrestrial fiber video delivery network. That proposal would clear 370 MHz of C-band spectrum and transition broadcasters and earth station users from C-band delivery to fiber.

While there has been support in some corners for the ACA proposal, a sizable number of organizations have called on the FCC to flatly reject any such proposal, including the National Association of Broadcasters and four U.S. broadcasting networks.

The comments are being submitted as part of Docket 18-122 known as “Expanding Flexible Use of the 3.7 GHz to 4.2 GHz Band” within the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.

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The post Cumulus/WWO Among Those Rejecting Fiber Suggestion as Replacement for C-Band appeared first on Radio World.

O’Rielly in Middle of C-Band Debate

Tue, 08/27/2019 - 09:48

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly believes society is standing on the brink of a revolutionary 5G wireless technology that will generate countless innovations and utterly change the way we work, play, communicate and interact.

Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, center, at a recent FCC meeting next to Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.

The commissioner said so at the Brooklyn 5G Summit this year, and his raves about 5G didn’t surprise observers. Among many implications of 5G is a possible repurposing of the C-band in the United States. That’s the 500 MHz of spectrum (3.7 to 4.2 GHz) currently used by broadcasters who receive programming via satellite downlink earth stations. The FCC has proposed giving wireless companies some portion of the spectrum for 5G wireless development. It is expected to take action on the matter before the end of 2019.

O’Rielly, 48, was nominated for a Republican seat on the FCC by President Barack Obama in 2013. He has been active in a number of radio-related policy issues on the FCC’s action list including AM revitalization, the quadrennial review, FM Class C4 and pirate radio. Radio World checked in with him recently on these issues.

Radio World: What do you see as the ideal split of the 500 MHz of C-band spectrum? What do you support?
Michael O’Rielly: Industry stakeholders have discussed different options, including the market-based approach that could repurpose 200 megahertz of spectrum relatively quickly while ensuring the incumbents will be accommodated. I hope the satellite incumbents who are willing to surrender their spectrum rights will be able to find a way to increase the amount to be reallocated to 300 or more megahertz.

As for the spectrum split I say between 200 and 300 MHz, but closer to 300 for wireless right now. I’ve testified to that fact. I think we’ll end up eventually in the 300 range to repurpose. We need to tee up even more mid-bands for review. It’s critically important that we look closely at those prime bands for 5G.

RW: Are you supportive of the C-Band Alliance proposal, which calls for 200 MHz for wireless and 300 for satellite earth-stations?
O’Rielly: I haven’t endorsed it. I’ve said some nice things about it. There are some nice parts to it. We are still trying to work through some things, like how much spectrum we are talking about, what is the auction mechanism and the band plan. There are pieces of it that are still open for consideration and that’s why I haven’t endorsed it.

RW: The proposal contains money for the repacking of the spectrum and moving broadcasters during a migration. Will whatever the FCC decrees contain some money for broadcasters to cover expenses of moving?
O’Rielly: Oh yes, it’s going to have to. And I’ve said as much all along. We are going to have to make sure broadcasters are made whole in any kind of repack. Repack is a term we use in incentive auctions, but it kind of functions here, too. We are going to relocate and retune the earth stations. Therefore that expense should be addressed.

What I have told the broadcast community, and I’ve done this in a thoughtful way, is not to be greedy. This is not an opportunity to make money, but rather a process to be made whole. And to make sure your services are not interrupted and mindful of how important use of the C-band is to your technology package. A number of broadcasters have told us they use some fiber in their operations already, but they want the redundancy of using satellite. They want both.

RW: Speaking of fiber, some of the wireless companies have told the commission they believe broadcasters could use fiber to replace the C-band for distribution of programming. Do you think that is in the public interest?
O’Rielly: No I don’t believe we will go down that path. I don’t believe forcing anyone to using just one technology is good. Broadcasters have highlighted the fact that having different redundant technology is crucial. Some wireless companies have even suggested using redundant fiber networks, but broadcasters have made it clear that they have seen nothing to make them want to go to just fiber. I’m respectful of that.

RW: There have been lots of other proposals floated for C-band repurposing. Have any of these stood out in your mind?
O’Rielly: There have been a lot of ideas put forward. And I think that signals that we are close to a decision point and a commonality. Different views are coalescing around different pieces. And now we see groups are fighting over specifics instead of generalities. There’s been less yelling at each other. That’s progress I think. But we still have work to do.

RW: Ideally, would the FCC like to see the stakeholders involved come to a consensus and get behind one of the compromises? And would that simplify the proceeding?
O’Rielly: That would be great if it worked out that way. I suspect it may not given the strong views involved. But as regulators, part of our job is to find the right outcome. In general, the outcome would be better if you had all sides on board, but here it seems unlikely. So we will find the right landing spot.

RW: What are your thoughts on congressional involvement on the C-band matter at this point? Would that complicate or simplify matters for the FCC?
O’Rielly: I always welcome congressional involvement, whether it is informal or legislation. Certainly I appreciate anytime Congress passes a statute and the president signs it. If it happens here if something is enacted, I would follow it to the letter. In the meantime, there are a lot of different views from Congress, just as there is from all the different parties, so we have to take all of them, digest them and rule on an outcome.

RW: Were you satisfied with the compromise solution expediting FM translator interference claims? What are your expectations?
O’Rielly: Generally yes. I think we are open to fine-tune it going forward. I think it addresses both sides of the issue. Some of the issues were unintended consequences of having all these new FM translators available and the growth of that service. So we want to make sure we don’t cause disruption and we want the process to be more simplistic and easy to use. We’ll see if in operation it works as we think it will.

RW: You’ve been instrumental, along with Chairman Ajit Pai, in making pirate radio take-downs a priority. Some broadcasters sense a slowdown in the FCC’s pursuit of pirates. What is your response to those assertions?
O’Rielly: Well, I would say to those claims that if any broadcaster is feeling that way, don’t worry. I’m still pushing as hard as I can. We do have some actions coming. At the same time there is legislation moving through Congress to provide the commission more tools that will be incredibly valuable.

I was just in New York working on the issue of pirate radio, specifically in the Bronx, and figuring out how to remove the enticement for groups to do pirate radio.

RW: Do you believe the recent joint action by the U.S. attorney in Massachusetts and the FCC signals increased interest by the DOJ to act? [In March the FCC Enforcement Bureau praised a civil action brought by the Justice Department, intended to prevent an unlicensed station from operating in Worcester.]
O’Rielly: I hope so. I wasn’t involved in that issue. I hope it will stir further compliance. Every little step matters.

RW: The Class C4 Notice of Inquiry hasn’t moved to NPRM stage yet. Do you expect that to happen soon and do you support that move?
O’Rielly: I would defer to the chairman to the timing of the item. I’ve been raising issues regarding the C4 proposal. What I have said publicly is that it is hard to move an item such as this that causes such consternation within an industry. And there are strong takes in favor and against. A number of broadcasters are strongly opposed. That is a harder thing to move in those instances, given the technical issues involved. So I don’t know the timing but I am suspect in terms of where we might go with it.

RW: The comment periods have been closed for some time on proposed changes to the Class A AM interference protection rules. Do you expect an order soon and what could it mean for AM going forward?
O’Rielly: Again, I’m not sure about the timing. The comments have been collected. I just don’t have a good insight on when the item moves forward. A lot of those pieces are still up in the air.

RW: Comments in the 2018 Quadrennial review were filed in March and April. What is the likely timeframe for an FCC decision in this proceeding? Will the timing be affected by litigation over previous quadrennial reviews still pending in a U.S. court of appeals? [Editor’s note: The FCC has defended its most recent rule changes against a challenge by Prometheus Radio Project.]
O’Rielly: I’d hope it’s not dependent on the Third Circuit because they haven’t had the mindset of the current marketplace for some time. They’ve been stuck in a previous time that we have all moved past. I hope we are not stuck waiting for their decision.

I think we can take some steps to move forward. Hopefully this year still, but that will be up to the chairman. But in the next six months I’m hoping we can move our quadrennial review ahead. We should have already done that considering our statutory requirement.

RW: The question of market definition is key to the FCC’s broadcast ownership rules and to the Department of Justice’s review of broadcast mergers. Should the DOJ define the relevant market for reviewing radio and TV station mergers in the same way as the FCC (or vice versa)?
O’Rielly: I don’t know about the same, but they need to update their current review, which I have criticized extensively. I have a deep concern. They are living in the past and have blocked a number of mergers that make sense.

I hope the workshop the DOJ put together on how digital advertising should affect its broadcast merger review will lead to the decision to change their definition of a marketplace.

RW: What changes would you like to see the FCC make to its broadcast ownership rules in the 2018 quadrennial?
O’Rielly: On the radio side of things, I think the subcaps are ripe for review and ripe for change. Ownership limits on the AM side are anarchistic. Allowing more consolidation of AM stations may be a key way to preserve this function.

And on the FM side we just need to find the sweet landing spot. There are larger ownership groups that are critical of NAB on their landing spot, but I think we will be able to find a number to make most entities happy, including the community at large.

We need to bring our rules up to date to reflect the current marketplace. Everyone is competing for audience. It’s not just radio versus radio, or versus TV. It includes all of the high-tech companies battling for the eyes and ears of the American public.

RW: Does your schedule slow down at all in summer?
O’Rielly: I wouldn’t call it a slowdown. We move our meeting in August up a bit and slide the September meeting back to create some space for vacation and family time. There’s nothing official about it. I do hope to take some time off and spend it with my daughters and family.

The post O’Rielly in Middle of C-Band Debate appeared first on Radio World.

ViA Helps Cover Live Commonwealth Games

Tue, 08/27/2019 - 00:00

The author is a freelance radio broadcast specialist.

Working on the sports coverage at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast for the Australian Broadcasting Corp. was incredibly exciting as it threw up many challenges along the way. These large events require an ability to deal with multiple stakeholders, such as broadcast personnel, equipment manufacturers and telcos to ensure smooth sailing.

ABC Radio Sport IBC Studios Gold Coast

At the 2018 Commonwealth Games, I used Tieline’s ViA codec to broadcast live audio over IP from several venues, including high-profile sports such as events from the main stadium, as well as swimming, cycling, hockey and more in other locations.

Although ISDN was available, it was not offered at all venues by the telco, so instead of using a combination of transmission methods, I decided to stick with IP. In general, I prefer to transport audio over IP rather than ISDN, as it’s more versatile and is just as reliable with the right implementation.

Alister Nicholson (ABC Radio Sport Melbourne) at the Anna Meares Velodrome.

The ABC Radio Sport Operations department has a large complement of ViA, Merlin and Merlin PLUS codecs for remote outside broadcasts. This is significantly extended in ABC MCRs with complements of Merlin PLUS codecs. My own broadcast company, BNBC, has also purchased several ViA, Merlin and Merlin PLUS codecs, which are primarily used for sports broadcasting. These complements are constantly growing as the industry transitions to IP technology.

At the Commonwealth Games, I installed four Tieline ViA codecs at key venues and had one floating codec, which was used at other venues and pop-up events around the city. Most venues had a simple setup for two commentators and an effects mic. IP network security was high, with all venues isolated from one another on private LANs. In the lead-up to the opening, we worked hard to negotiate secure pathways in and out from each venue that were rock-solid back to Merlin and Merlin PLUS codecs in the ABC’s Central Broadcast Site at the IBC Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The purpose of this infrastructure was to connect all venues directly to the International Broadcast Centre, which would then get mixed into larger broadcasts and sent back to Sydney. Two different radio networks would often be programmed from the IBC site with different content through the same infrastructure. This IBC hub was also great for providing atmosphere and camaraderie with all contributing producers, commentators and experts in close proximity.

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

As we found in Rio, the best-laid plans can often turn to you-know-what, no matter how much planning you put in. On the Gold Coast that turned out to be another layer of security added to the IP network. An Intruder Protection System was installed because of a possible threat received only 30 hours before the opening ceremony.

Borobi, the mascot for Gold Coast

This added latency. Because we were concerned about it being 100% OK for the opening ceremony, we decided to go live with the addition of Telstra LANES cellular service, which uses dedicated LTE spectrum. To facilitate this, we connected Netgear M1 Nighthawk routers to the venue ViA and the IBC Merlins’ second LAN ports and setup Tieline’s SmartStream feature on all our codecs.

Combined with Tieline’s SmartStream PLUS redundant streaming, we streamed successfully from all venues for two-and-a-half days — until we were absolutely certain that the private LAN with additional security would stream reliably. The performance was great, and it allowed us to troubleshoot the private LAN issues without impacting the product.

SmartStream PLUS used via two different networks is the best option, in my opinion, and gets you a lower than one in 1,000 failure rate in my experience. Normally, I try to combine an LTE cellular modem and a wired LAN service for redundancy.

I met some colleagues from BBC Sports Northern Ireland during the games who were interested in trying out the SmartStream method of IP broadcasting, and I helped them to configure their ViA codecs for broadcast, as well as talking about our IP issues.

Joshua Craig covers an event at the swimming pool.

One of the main reasons I like using ViA is the remote control it delivers. At the venues on the Gold Coast, we didn’t have any technicians on site during competition, as we could remote into each codec and adjust any settings from the studio using the HTML5 Toolbox web GUI while managing larger broadcast operations at the IBC. The Matrix editor and router are a nice addition to ViA and allow simple routing adjustments on the fly.

Generally, the return path is used for IFB and talkback communications; however the fact that ViA supports a separate mono bidirectional feed for communications is something I am looking into for radio sports coverage. ViA’s IP latency is low and well-suited to communicating bidirectionally with the studio. Depending on the circuit available, I generally run a fixed jitter setting on international circuits and automatic jitter buffering on local and national links as international circuits tend to be vary more dynamically over the period of a connection.

I have connected in mono, stereo, and both stereo and mono simultaneously using ViA — depending on the application. Normally, I use Music PLUS encoding in stereo at 96 kbps, and this sounds excellent.

I generally avoid using Wi-Fi at major sports events, as stadiums often use lots of Wi-Fi channels and there can be too much interference for reliable connections. However, I have used the built-in Wi-Fi capability in ViA in areas less affected by Wi-Fi and RF, like local football matches at smaller venues with fewer broadcasters. It’s easy to setup and works great.

I have had the opportunity to use both the XLR and digital outputs to feed things like PA, but by far the most useful use for the additional audio IO is to daisy-chain two ViAs together. This is great for OBs where space is an issue.

 BATTERY BACKUP SAVES THE DAY

I recall on one occasion that ABC Radio Sport was broadcasting a Women’s AFL match from Drummoyne in Sydney during the 2018 season. Storms were predicted, and we were outside under a small gazebo (as were all the other broadcasters). We were using the ViA as an external codec and simply taking feeds in and out from a larger mixing console.

Midway through the game, it bucketed down, cats and dogs, sideways rain. Insanity. All the gear got soaked, and lightning began striking nearby structures and sailing boats. I had anticipated such an issue and disconnected the ViA and Netgear M1 modem from the larger system, swapped the commentators over to headsets plugged directly into the ViA and moved them inside, away from the storm. Although other broadcasters had gone off air due to wet equipment, we were able to continue to broadcast.

Patrick “Vibes” Johnson, left, and Quentin Hull, ABC Radio Sport Brisbane, at Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast.

This was great for our listeners because we didn’t drop the coverage, and it provided an exciting listening experience throughout the storm with the reactions of the commentators as they spoke through the ordeal. After play resumed, we continued to broadcast using the ViA. In addition, I swapped out our sideline wireless mic and used a phone/mic/headphone combo with Report-IT directly back to the studio.

 SUMMARY

Without question, Tieline’s Merlin codecs in Rio, and the ViA, Merlin and Merlin PLUS codecs on the Gold Coast, delivered the goods for high-profile, mission-critical, sports coverage.

In general, the ViA codec sounds great, and from a configuration perspective, it’s very intuitive. Announcers like the ViA as they are super easy to use and connect once an address book for program dialing has been configured. The headphone routing controls are also super-flexible and settings for individual announcers can be saved and recalled.

[Read: IBC Exhibitor Viewpoint: Charlie Gawley, Tieline]

Unlike ISDN, broadcasting over IP can be dicey, as you are relying on other factors outside of a single telco. IP requires good network structures all the way through the chain and can often mean crossing three computer networks (organizational, internet, telco). This is why Tieline’s SmartStream PLUS is such an important feature, really providing what ISDN used to, with the added flexibility of computer networks.

Joshua Craig works as an audio engineer for clients including the national broadcaster ABC TV and Radio, Triple J Radio, the Sydney Opera House and many others. The work he does is varied and includes live sports coverage and live music programs.

The post ViA Helps Cover Live Commonwealth Games appeared first on Radio World.

Radio Osnabrück Facilitates Telecommuter Tasks

Mon, 08/26/2019 - 16:00

OSNABRÜCK, Germany — Show hosts and talent at Radio Osnabrück are telecommuting into work these days.

The regional station has one main studio, a network of transmitters, and now, several on-air personalities telecommuting from various locations throughout Germany.

Covering the Osnabrück land region in Lower Saxony, Germany, Radio Osnabrück has one main studio, a network of transmitters, and now, several on-air personalities telecommuting from various locations throughout Germany.

SYSTEM SETUP

Talent run their shows from a custom user interface on their PCs that connects over the public internet with a VPN connection into the station’s WheatNet-IP audio networked studio in the city of Osnabrück.

IP-12 control surfaces in Studio 2 and 3.

Onscreen buttons enable remote talent to access sources, take listener call-ins, and do all the things they would otherwise do if they were physically in the studio. That includes talkbacks to other talent at various locations and triggering a local traffic announcement on the RDS encoder.

The UI was created with ScreenBuilder UI development application by Danny Teunissen of MRZ Broadcast in The Netherlands, who was the systems integrator for Radio Osnabrück’s new studios completed last year.

The system includes a Wheatstone split-frame LXE console in the main studio and IP-12 control surfaces in Studio 2 and Studio 3 with Tieline codec units, Proppfrexx automation and VoxPro recorder/editors all integrated into the WheatNet-IP audio network.

[Read: IBC Sneak Peek: Wheatstone Introduces Strata 32]

The Wheatstone ACI protocol ties codecs and automation to SLIOs (software logic I/O) in the WheatNet-IP network for triggering events and elements.

A split-frame Wheatstone LXE console in the main studio

Through the Proppfrexx automation, talent have access to utility mixers in each of the I/O BLADEs that make up the WheatNet-IP audio network for routing and segueing between program feeds during broadcasts.

It’s possible to trigger Tieline codecs remotely and status indicators are visible from the Proppfrexx automation as well.

Radio Osnabrück telecommuters are able to bring more local programming into the station and expand listenership as a result.

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The post Radio Osnabrück Facilitates Telecommuter Tasks appeared first on Radio World.

Nautel Simplifies FEBC Operations

Mon, 08/26/2019 - 14:00

The author is chief technician for Far East Broadcasting Company in the Philippines.

Noel Ubod pictured with FEBC’s most recent acquisition, a Nautel GV10 transmitter.

MANILA  — Far East Broadcasting Company has a long history with Nautel. Almost all our transmitters are Nautel (except for some shortwave systems).

Starting with the ND Series in the early 1990s we’ve since purchased XL Series, XR Series, NV Series, VS Series, NVLT Series and GV Series.

We choose Nautel transmitters because of their track record of reliability and high efficiency.

Our most recent acquisition, a GV10 transmitter, was commissioned in March 2019. The installation was both simple and easy. Currently we are in the process of acquiring an NX50 transmitter to replace an XL50. 

Documentation, Resources

Prior to working with Nautel transmitters I had maintained an analog vacuum tube transmitter, so the thought of working with a Nautel solid-state transmitter was exciting. But it was a combination of excitement and fear as I was concerned whether I could adjust to this new technology I wasn’t used to. I had maintained the analog transmitter for more than 20 years, so I had to study how such state-of-the-art transmitters operate.

I am very impressed with the Nautel transmitter manuals. There is everything I need. They are very extensive from pre-installation to installation then operation and lastly troubleshooting manuals. I have never seen such an extensive set of manuals before.

Other points that have caught my attention are Nautel’s helpful webinars, videos and tutorials on their website and the Tips and Tricks from Jeff Welton (thanks Jeff!) All these resources are very practical and helpful for us maintenance crew.

[Read: Nautel Names Schmid at CTO]

Another thing which I recently experienced is Nautel’s great customer service. They provide very good support to customers. Several times I’ve asked for assistance and Nautel Tech Support was there to help me every time. Very impressive. Although the information is there in the manuals, asking for help from Nautel customer service is faster than re-reading the manuals — my apologies for that! My sincere thanks to Scott MacLeod who is always patient enough to assist me.

I cannot water down the importance of good customer service. If I’m evaluating equipment to buy, my highest criteria is customer support. Does the equipment company have good customer support? Nautel has that.

Built-In Features

In the Philippines one of our dilemmas is there are very few technicians available to maintain broadcast equipment. Because of this there were times when we had to cut our on-air broadcasting hours because of lack of personnel to man the (vacuum tube) transmitter.

With Nautel transmitters lack of personnel is no longer a problem. We started operating our new GV10 transmitter automatically using the built-in features; it will turn on/off at the specified time without human intervention. Again, thanks to Scott who helped with this set up.

The transmitter AUI metering is also very extensive. Everything an engineer needs for evaluating the operation of the transmitter is available on the touch screen. Currently I am working with the AUI’s web-based remote monitoring and control (using port forwarding on the router) as we are contemplating 24-hour operation.

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Our potential for 24-hour operation is only possible given the transmitter’s high efficiency. This gives us a lower electric bill compared with our previous vacuum tube transmitter which had very low efficiency. This lower electric cost enables us to consider expanding our hours of on-air broadcasting. Thank you Nautel!

Nautel transmitters are reliable, highly efficient and versatile. There are many features to accommodate your broadcasting needs. Thanks to the engineers at Nautel who are behind this great design, you did an excellent job. Kudos to all of you.

Congratulations Nautel for 50 years of service!

The post Nautel Simplifies FEBC Operations appeared first on Radio World.

FCC Plans $10,000 Penalty Against Alleged Radio Pirate

Mon, 08/26/2019 - 12:50

The Federal Communications Commission is moving toward issuing a $10,000 Notice of Apparent Liability against an individual accused of allegedly operating an unlicensed radio station in Arkansas.

In August 2018, according to an FCC summary of the case, the commission received a complaint from a consumer that an unauthorized station was operating in Alma, Ark., a town of 5,419 near the Ozark Mountains. An agent from the commission’s New Orleans field office investigated in October and observed what appeared to be a broadcast station operating on 103.1 MHz.

[Read: Justice Department Steps in to Stop Alleged Pirate Operation]

Using direction-finding techniques, agents attempted to inspect a site on Fayetteville Ave., but, according to the FCC, they were rebuffed by Gerald Sutton, who refused the agent’s request to conduct an inspection. Soon after the agent’s arrival, the transmitter was turned off, though the agent reported it was turned back on after the agent departed the site.

In November, Sutton was sent a Notice of Unlicensed Operation and informed that the alleged operation must be discontinued immediately as it was in violation of Section 301 of the Communications Act. But Sutton responded via a letter saying that the act did not apply to him.

The FCC now states in a notice of apparent liability that that Sutton willfully violated the act and proposed a monetary forfeiture of $10,000. Sutton has 30 days to pay or file a written statement seeking reduction or cancellation.

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The post FCC Plans $10,000 Penalty Against Alleged Radio Pirate appeared first on Radio World.

Best of Show Up Close: Davicom Cortex 320

Mon, 08/26/2019 - 11:53

“Best of Show Up Close” is a series about participants in Radio World’s annual Best of Show at NAB Awards program.

Davicom nominated the Cortex 320 remote control. The Cortex is the second member of the Cortex line, introduced last year. It is smaller than the established Cortex 360 and is aimed at facilities with simpler needs and lower budgets.

We asked Davicom President John Ahearn for more information.

 Radio World: The Cortex 320 was a feature of your booth at NAB. For those who couldn’t attend, what is the product and what are its targeted uses?

John Ahearn: The Cortex 320 is Davicom’s new baby in the Cortex intelligent remote-control family. Although it is built on the same platform as the Cortex 360, the 320 has been optimized for small-budget requirements. So small market and noncommercial stations can take advantage of the core benefits provided by larger, and more costly, remote controls.

RW: The system is described as “versatile and intelligent.” What sets the 320 apart from similar offerings in this product class.

Ahearn: One example would be the unit’s 12 versatile inputs that can be used as either metering or status inputs. Coupled with the 320’s four dedicated status inputs, it can be configured for just the right mix of GPIO.

Another example is the unit’s 128 virtual logic gates that can be used to program smart actions, depending on input conditions. Davicom units have always included advanced broadcast-related functions such as an automatic sunrise-sunset flag, direct VSWR indications, hysteresis to reduce false alarms, and advanced math for logarithm and decibel calculations.

One design aspect that sets us apart is our use of standard protocols and interfaces such as MODBUS and SNMP. Users can buy their own, low-cost/less intelligent devices and use the 320 to make everything work together smartly. They can also interface directly with gensets and transmitters without needing to buy extra hardware.

Another aspect of the Cortex that sets it apart is its design for electromagnetic compatibility. I think that we may be the only manufacturer that operates its own EMC lab with a full-sized TEM cell and 3 m emissions test range. All our products meet and even surpass the requirements of FCC and CE emissions and immunity standards.

And finally, even though the 320 is totally at home in an IP and networking environment, it can still operate on dial-up lines and even over narrow-band serial communications links down to 2400 baud. This ensures the Cortex can be used and accessed at those many sites where IP is not available or reliable.

RW: What does it cost? Is it available now?

Ahearn: MSRP for the basic 12 VDC unit with IP connectivity is $2,436. Note that you can consult your favorite dealer to enquire about alternative pricing. Production quantities will be available in September.

[Read: Best of Show Up Close: Wheatstone AirAura X5]

RW: More generally, what do you see as the most important trends or changes happening these days in how broadcasters design and build their remote control and monitoring infrastructure?

Ahearn: We’ve been seeing this trend since 2007, when we first introduced an integrated SNMP manager into our Davicom units, but site management by IP is finally here. Even if a remote site doesn’t have outside network access, an on-site LAN can greatly facilitate system setup and operation. Monitoring and control wiring are reduced by orders of magnitude and reconfigurability is greatly increased.

This new paradigm does come with its lot of new challenges however. System monitoring and troubleshooting have changed and now require different tools and methods. Broadcasters aren’t only measuring voltages, RF powers and contacts anymore, they now need to do things like ping transmitters, read IP addresses, automatically restart flaky routers and monitor digital audio data streams.

RW: What else should we know about this product or your company’s offerings these days?

Ahearn: These days we are putting lots of effort into adding new, customer-requested functions into the Cortex products. We’re also making sure everything works correctly with the different versions of MODBUS and SNMP used by various manufacturers.

Davicom’s products have evolved from the simple RF monitoring, alarm and control systems they were in the 1990’s to the intelligent site management systems they are today. With advanced networking capabilities, such as the built-in SNMP manager, while still retaining GPIO and RF functionalities, Davicom’s products keep striving to make the broadcaster’s job easier in this rapidly changing world.

The Future Best of Show Awards program honors and helps promote outstanding new products exhibited at industry conventions like the spring NAB Show. Exhibitors pay a fee to enter; not all entries win. Watch for more coverage of participating products soon. To learn about all of the nominees and winners, read the 2019 Best of Show Program Guide.

 

The post Best of Show Up Close: Davicom Cortex 320 appeared first on Radio World.

U.S.-Based Shortwave Broadcasters Eye Digital

Mon, 08/26/2019 - 11:45

Relatively few Americans are aware of it, but the United States is home to many commercial/religious international broadcasters that transmit programming worldwide using analog shortwave radio transmitters. They are supported by an industry group called the National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters.

Unfortunately, analog shortwave radio transmissions are notorious for interference and signal dropouts. For listeners in other countries, the sound coming out of their shortwave radios lacks the superior audio range of domestic U.S. AM (yes, we said AM) and is often wracked with static and signal fading.

Members of the National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters are shown at their annual meeting in North Carolina, hosted by Trans World Radio.

For years, NASB members have wanted to replace (or at least augment) the poor audio quality of analog SW with the crystal-clear sound of digital SW radio, specifically the Digital Radio Mondiale standard developed in Europe that is now being used in China and India.

“DRM sounds very much like FM, with a wide audio range and no static,” said Charles Caudill, president emeritus of World Christian Broadcasting, owner/operator of U.S. SW station KNLS. “It is also consistent: Either the DRM signal is received on your SW radio in full, or it isn’t. There’s no in-between.”

There are some DRM radios in use now, which is why some NASB members are offering limited DRM broadcasts alongside their regular analog SW transmissions.

“But the current generation of DRM SW receivers cost about $100 each, whereas you can buy a cheap analog SW radio for as little as $10,” said Dr. Jerry Plummer, a professor at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn., and frequency coordinator for U.S. SW station WWCR. “Given that the audiences being targeted by NASB members are largely in the third world, the lack of inexpensive DRM receivers keeps them listening to analog shortwave.”

Mindful that other digital audio sources are gaining ground even in less-developed countries, the NASB has decided to take action. At its recent annual meeting in North Carolina, at the facilities of U.S. SW broadcaster Trans World Radio, the NASB formed a DRM Receiver Working Group. Headed up by TWR engineer George Ross, this group has been “tasked to evaluate what it will take to get affordable, distributable DRM receivers,” Ross told Radio World. “What is holding DRM up is the lack of affordable receivers.”

CHICKEN-AND-EGG

DRM radio prototype from StarWaves.

Given the NASB’s interest in low-cost DRM receivers, it was no coincidence that Johannes Von Weyssenhoff was invited to speak at the annual meeting. Von Weyssenhoff said his StarWaves manufacturing firm (www.starwaves.de) has the technology, capability and existing prototypes to build DRM radios for $29 each, but only if the sale order is large enough to deliver economies of scale. (He also estimated $18 DRM modules could be built for installation in other radio models.)

“Twenty-nine dollars is doable at volumes staring at 30,000 receivers,” Von Weyssenhoff told Radio World. “Even smaller quantities would be possible at this price for very simple radios — for example, without graphics displays — but these would be special projects that had to be discussed individually. But even more advanced radios with Bluetooth or premium designs will be possible to offer at a reasonable price,” he said — as long as the sales orders was in the tens of thousands or more.

Given that India and China have committed to the DRM standard, there appears to be a mass-market for these receivers. But the problem for StarWaves is finding the money to build enough of them to drive per-unit costs down.

“In recent years I have tried to convince quite a number of potential investors but either I have not yet found the correct audience, or I was not yet able to communicate this great opportunity convincingly,” said Von Weyssenhoff. “You just have to imagine that alone in India, according to All India Radio, there is a demand of up to 150 million receivers within the next few years. This market could have been served with tons of receivers by now and big profits could have been made, but instead I had to grow the development in very small steps.”

Plug-in DRM module.

The money StarWaves needs is not huge: “An amount of $150,000 or even $100,000 would certainly do wonders and enable us to start production within a few within a few weeks,” he said. “A commercial order of 10,000 receivers or more would have a similar effect.”

NASB’s members don’t have this kind of money available. Saddled with huge antenna farms and multiple power-devouring 50 kW to 500 kW transmitters, the commercial/religious shortwave broadcasting sector is tight for cash.

“Broadcasting DRM requires either a new transmitter or the modification of an existing transmitter,” said Kim Andrew Elliott, a retired Voice of America broadcaster and host of “Communications World” who has organized many demonstrations of DRM reception at the annual Winter Shortwave Listeners Fest going back to 2003.

“These days, many shortwave broadcasters are thinking about whether they should keep their existing shortwave transmitters on the air, rather than thinking about buying or modifying a transmitter.”

Their situation isn’t helped by the lack of audience measurements detailing SW’s far-flung listener base. Not only does a lack of SW ratings make it difficult to sell spots to advertisers, “but the squeaky, staticky sound of shortwave makes it hard for us to talk to the people at Coca-Cola, who fear that listeners will associate their product with inferior quality,” said Caudill.

The resulting conundrum is a classic chicken-and-egg dilemma. StarWaves and other DRM radio manufacturers don’t have the money to produce DRM radios in volumes that would make them cheap to buy.

“To determine when we can consider broadcasting in DRM, there needs to be a ‘completed broadcast network,’ i.e. broadcasts and receivers,” said Ross. “Without receivers, broadcasts are futile. So broadcasters are still waiting for manufacturing of receivers.”

Jeff White, general manager of U.S. SW broadcaster Radio Miami International (WRMI), said, “We know it’s a chicken-and-egg situation, but no one is willing to invest a lot of time and money into transmitting DRM programs unless they know that there are at least some listeners out there who are able to hear the programs. The other factor is that there are probably billions of analog shortwave receivers out there, and more being manufactured every day in China. So there will still be a large audience out there listening to analog shortwave for a long time to come.”

INEVITABLE?

Despite the hurdles being encountered by StarWaves and the NASB, there seems to be momentum growing for DRM. India’s move to DRM will create a mass-market for low-cost DRM receivers as soon as they become available. Meanwhile, China’s recent DRM deployments has made it “the world’s largest DRM shortwave broadcaster,” wrote Hans Johnson in Radio World earlier this year. “China operates the most DRM transmitters in this band and has the most extensive schedule.”

It is this context that U.S. SW broadcasters are making their DRM push.

“From my knowledge of the situation, many of these broadcasters have been interested in DRM since its inception,” said Christopher Rumbaugh, administrator for the blog DRMNA.info that covers DRM developments in North America. “The reason they are pulling together now is that the time is right for affordable receivers.”

His site posted a recap of NASB 2019 including Von Weyssenhoff’s NASB StarWaves presentation, at drmnainfo.blogspot.com/2019/05/nasb-2019-after-action-report.html.

WRNJ: AM Stations Should Consider DRM+
U.S. international radio broadcasters aren’t the only ones interested in the DRM digital radio transmission standard. WRNJ Radio co-owner Larry Tighe would like stations on the AM band in the United States to have the option of broadcasting using the DRM+ standard if they choose. Licensed to Hackettstown, N.J., “Oldies 1510 WRNJ” broadcasts on 1510 kHz and simulcasts on FM frequencies 92.7 and 104.7 MHz.

Mindful that the current AM band doesn’t have space to add DRM+ stations, he has filed a petition for rulemaking with the FCC, asking that the 45 to 50 MHz section of the VHF spectrum be reallocated for this purpose.

“The 45–50 MHz band was allocated to two-way radio users in business and government, who have since migrated to higher bandwidths where they can use handsets with smaller antennas,” said Tighe. “As a result, this spectrum is extremely quiet right now. WRNJ monitored this bandwidth for an extended period of time, and heard very few distant signals.”

According to Tighe, allowing AM broadcasters to broadcast in DRM+ on 45–50 MHz would vastly reduce their operating costs due to the  more efficient broadcast coverage of DRM+, with 1 kW effective radiated power over DRM+ being equal in coverage to 5 kW ERP with AM. His FCC petition argues that allowing AM broadcasters to use DRM on 45–50 MHz would also free the FM band from the thousands of AM-operated FM translators now in use, thus reducing congestion for actual FM broadcasters.

Tighe’s FCC petition acknowledges that DRM+ radio receivers are not widely available to consumers but says that “just like any new spectrum usage, receiver manufacturers will respond to the demand for new receivers.”

It remains to be seen what the FCC’s response to Tighe’s petition will be. Meanwhile, this New Jersey broadcaster also has his eye on the lower half of the once-busy VHF band for AM stations on DRM+.

“There were 660 TV stations between Channels 2 and 7 before the transition to UHF for HDTV,” said Tighe. “There are now only approximately 60 TV stations in the USA on those old VHF channels. There is plenty of spectrum to share with a new service, i.e., DRM+ or any modulation, if the FCC really wanted to move AMs.”

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