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.
The post CPB Funds Noncom Election Reporting/Engagement Effort appeared first on Radio World.
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.
“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.
“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 VISIBILITYDJ 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.
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.
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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.
The post IBC Exhibitor Viewpoint: Rich Redmond, GatesAir and Carlo Bombelli, GatesAir Srl appeared first on Radio World.
Jennifer is back from travels, that included Hawaiian community radio, to join Eric and Paul. First up, a question: is “pathfinder” a good replacement for the word “pioneer,” the latter of which has an unfortunate colonial heritage? Listener Pat Flanagan suggested it to us after we asked for input a couple of episodes, so we provisionally adopt it here to talk about people who are finding new paths for our favorite audio media.
Jennifer updates us about a new pathfinding low-power FM station backed by the San Francisco Public Press, and announces that the call for papers is open for the next Radio Preservation Task Force conference in October 2020.
Paul reports back from Podcast Movement, where some 3000 podcasters of many stripes met for 3 days in Orlando, Florida. He remarks on the wide variety of podcast email newsletters he learned about, and the Podcast Brunch Club. We note recent allegations of plagiarism against a popular true crime podcast, using it as a launching point for a discussion about journalism and ethics in community broadcasting and podcasting.Show Notes:
- Call for Papers – ‘Century of Broadcasting: Preservation and Renewal’ Conference
- Podcast #192: Saving Radio History with The Radio Preservation Task Force
- Muni Diaries
- San Francisco Public Press
- Podcast #191: How an LPFM Produces an Hour of Hyper-Local News Every Weekday
- Podcast Movement 2019
- Preserve This Podcast
- Podcast Brunch Club
- The Adventure Zone podcast
- NY Times: Popular ‘Crime Junkie’ Podcast Removes Episodes After Plagiarism Accusation
The post Podcast #208 – Radio and Podcast Pathfinding in San Francisco and Podcast Movement appeared first on Radio Survivor.
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.
The post FCC Moves to Revoke Licenses of Broadcasters Who Missed Regulatory Payments appeared first on Radio World.
Walter Benjamin broadcast his third “Youth Hour” radio talk with a lament on the state of puppet show entertainment in that famous city.
“Children who want to go to puppet theater don’t have an easy time of it in Berlin,” Benjamin explained. They’ve got better deals in Munich, Paris, and Rome. But one production company still remained, he noted: Kasper Theater, which had its roots in the 18th century puppet character of that name. Kasper was a priggish smartass and the star of a puppet entertainment genre called Kaspertheater, which audiences regarded as synonymous with puppetry in general.Kasper the Friendly Hand Puppet;
Florian Prosch i.A. der
Piccolo Puppenspiele für die WP
[CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]
Before newspapers began publishing comic strips, puppet shows may have been the first entertainment to try to reach both children and adults at the same time. Benjamin reminisced on the Kasper character of the early nineteenth century, who appeared
“not only in plays that were written for him; he also sticks his saucy little nose into all sorts of big, proper theater pieces for adults. He knows he can risk it. In the most terrible tragedies nothing ever happens to him. And when the devil catches up with Faust, he has to let Kasper live, even though he’s no better behaved than his master. He’s just a peculiar chap. Or in his own words: ‘I’ve always been a peculiar fellow. Even as a youngster I always saved my pocket money. And when I had enough, you know what I did with it? I had a tooth pulled’.”
Before going any further with Benjamin’s observations on this subject, I note that KBOO-FM in Portland, Oregon broadcast a fun little puppet theater show for a spell. A 2014 episode featured an interview with a Kasper-like character named “Turner D Century,” candidate for mayor in that city.
“You have some interesting positions that I would like to talk about, ” the host began.
“What are they letting a woman into the radio studio for”? Mr. Century demanded. “This modernization has gone too far.”
Unintimidated, the host pressed on. “Well, Mr. Century, let’s just get into it then. You have a very strong position on the bridges of Portland.”
“We’re going to tear down the bridges once and for all. It was a terrible idea to build them. We’ve wound up connecting the beautiful city with the riff raff, who are free to wander the bridges any time they want and pollute the general environment . . . It’s disgusting, quite frankly.”
“Are you going to ask taxpayer- “
“No, we’re just going to blow them up with dynamite!”
Interestingly, Benjamin managed to sneak some observations about the subject of democracy into his puppet show talk. “A proper puppeteer is a despot,” he explained, “one that makes the Tsar seem like a petty gendarme.” The puppet master writes the shows, does all the art work, dresses up the puppets, and plays all the roles via their own voice. But at the same time, the puppeteer must remain wary of the powers beyond puppet land. “First from the church and [second] the authorities,” Benjamin’s radio essay warned, “because puppets can so easily mock everything without being malicious.”
Benjamin wrapped up his radio essay with summaries of various puppet routines that he found amusing. The last of these was titled “The Discovery of America,” and featured a conversation between Columbus and a “New Worlder.”
“Who goes there?” asks the New Worlder puppet. “What do you want?”
To which the Columbus puppet replies, “I call myself Columbus” and “Simply to discover.”
“And that is how America was discovered,” Benjamin’s description of the exchange summarily ended, “which is now a republic that for a number of reasons I cannot recommend. As soon as this republic gets a king, it will become a monarchy; that’s just the way it is.”
That is how Benjamin concluded his third talk, broadcast on December 7, 1929 in Berlin, less than a year before Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party won a stunning electoral victory in Germany’s Reichstag (Parliament). And this is how I am ending my latest Walter Benjamin diary entry, just days after United States President Donald Trump went on Twitter to order all US companies to stop doing business with the People’s Republic of China.
This is the third entry in my Walter Benjamin Radio Diary series.
The post Walter Benjamin Radio Diary #3: on puppets and dictators appeared first on Radio Survivor.
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.”
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.
The post Cumulus/WWO Among Those Rejecting Fiber Suggestion as Replacement for C-Band appeared first on Radio World.
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 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.
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.
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.