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NJBA Warns About EAS Potential Failure

Radio World - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 16:25

The New Jersey Broadcasters Association sounded an alarm about New Jersey’s emergency alert system in its latest  e-newsletter, stating that “EAS failure” might occur as soon as the New Year unless something changes in the state.  

The current EMNET-EAS is more than a decade old, and NJBA President Paul S. Rotella wrote that it “has flaws that make it unreliable.” Therefore, the association is lobbying state officials and lawmakers to augment, upgrade or replace the system as soon as possible. 

[FCC Reveals 60-Day Grace Period for IPAWS Update]

In its member communiqué, the NJBA suggests New Jersey seek to apply funds from post-Superstorm Sandy community block grants toward this endeavor.

The post NJBA Warns About EAS Potential Failure appeared first on Radio World.

Nielsen: Radio’s Evolution Is Resonating With Consumers

Radio World - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 12:16

Nielsen’s latest Audio Today Report offers yet more data points to fend off radio naysayers. 

This report focuses on medium- and small-market radio consumers in the United States and tracks listening behaviors and related demographics. 

Nielsen Audio Managing Director Brad Kelly writes in the report’s introduction, “Radio is not simply resting on a hundred years of legacy or its enviable place in the dashboard. Radio is evolving in new and different ways that are resonating with both consumers and advertisers alike.”

Radio’s continued ubiquity in small-town USA is evident: In medium and small markets, 98% of adults 18+;  94% of adults 18-34; and 99% of adults aged 25-to-54 listen to radio monthly.

And while rural areas have a reputation in some circles for being slower to adopt new technologies, Nielsen says that consumers in these markets are “sophisticated audio users” who have also added podcasts and smart speakers to their routines. These consumers’ podcast affinity also makes sense when you consider that news/talk radio is the second-most popular radio format at 11.8% in medium- and small-markets. These listeners haven’t abandoned radio, however. 

[Smart Speakers Grow in Importance]

According to the report, 90% of podcast listeners continue to tune in to radio, and the same is true for 92% of smart speaker owners. 

Kelly also points out that radio hasn’t abandoned listeners who have adopted these new technologies: “Radio companies are developing interesting new digital brand extensions and delivery platforms including streams, podcasts, and voice-activated assistants.” That’s especially good news, considering that smart speakers were found in 29% of U.S. homes as of Q2 2019, according to the Nielsen MediaTech Trender. 

Learn more about these and other insights in Nielsen’s Audio Today Medium & Small Market Edition report.

The post Nielsen: Radio’s Evolution Is Resonating With Consumers appeared first on Radio World.

Reader Shares Late Issue Concerns

Radio World - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:51
LATE ISSUE

Paul, recently, it seems that I receive print editions of RW describing meetings or conventions that have already happened by the time the issue hits my mailbox. Has it been decided that print readers won’t attend anyway, so why give them a heads up on content? It seems that the print timing is at least a month out of sync with reality, for no apparent reason, compared with the digital. It’s not clear to me why the digital and print versions aren’t more or less synchronous, with a mailing delay for the print.

Gary O. Keener
Keener Technical Services
San Antonio, Texas

Paul McLane replies: Thanks Gary. Nothing has changed in our planning of content (and no one hates more than I to see a well-researched show preview article reach readers after the event). We’ve been experiencing shipping delays that put recent issues, one issue in particular, in the hands of readers too late. We also have had some disruption around a move of our offices from northern Virginia to downtown D.C., which now is complete. I’m monitoring though to keep our online and print content in better synch. Sorry for the inconvenience. Remember too that you can access a digital version of any current issue at radioworld.com under Resources, if a print copy is running late.

 

REMOTE CONTROLS

I really enjoyed reading the article by Tom Vernon, “Remote Controls Have a History All Their Own.” It brought back fond memories of some Good Old Days when the remote control equipment mentioned was in production. I was the project engineer for all of the analog remote control apparatus listed for Moseley Associates. Nice photo of the TRC-15; that unit sold over 4,500 units while in production.

Tom managed to write an article that covered a wide field of equipment from several manufacturers and he did it very well, accurately and completely. Congrats, Tom!

Jim Tonne

The post Reader Shares Late Issue Concerns appeared first on Radio World.

The Lasting Tale Of Radio

Radio World - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 02:00

Slightly more than 100 years ago, on Feb. 17, 1919, station 9XM at the University of Wisconsin in Madison broadcast human speech to the public at large.

The cover page of the book “9XM Talking” by Randall Davidson.

9XM was first experimentally licensed in 1914, began regular Morse Code transmissions in 1916, and its first music broadcast in 1917. Regularly scheduled broadcasts of voice and music began in January 1921. That station is still on the air today as WHA.

In 2019 we’re celebrating the 30th anniversary of Radio World International, but we mustn’t forget the whole story that began many years before.

TIME-LAPSE CAMERA

The first years of radio were undoubtedly flavored with a pioneering spirit, with new discoveries and technical advances. This led to more listeners and the beginning of modern broadcast radio.

About 60 years ago, radio was in nearly every home and radio engineers already had a thorough understanding radio frequency propagation and broadcast principles and tricks. So, having secured the transmission chain, attention could be shifted to indoor studio equipment.

If someone had installed a time-lapse camera in a radio studio 60 years ago, a review of all those images would display three main, well-defined periods. For the sake of simplicity, let’s consider the technical room, usually deployed at larger facilities, as part of the radio studio itself.

The first successful practical medium for music was the lacquer disc. After World War II the vinyl disc would be developed and refined into the “long-play/LP” and “45” to facilitate an explosion of music-based radio stations.

The TEAC A6600 AutoReverse, a workhorse tape recorder, provided many radio stations with hours of unattended playout.

The industry practice would distill into a two-turntable arrangement to seamlessly transition from one song to the next one while the talent on air was speaking. Adding a third turntable with disc-cutting capabilities allowed for making recordings of programs.

“Automation” first became available also for smaller stations in the shape of large reel-to-reel tape recorders, which allowed the facilities to go on-air even when no one was in the studio.

The slow rotation of tape reels, as well as their size, resembled the rotation of records on turntables. That’s right, 60 years ago radio was based on rotation.

ROTATION

This first era lasted about 30 years, up to the late 1980s. Some 30 years ago, CD players started becoming popular in radio studios. Turntables stayed there for a few years, but they were eventually blown away by CDs, which offered more reliability, a compact size and were easier to use.

Cassette changers gradually replaced reel-to-reel recorders in radio studios for unattended playout.

Reel-to-reel tape recorders suffered from the appearance of the first robotized cassette machines, which soon replaced them as backbone of “automation” systems.

By the end of the 1980s and beginning of 1990s the second period in modern radio began. The first issue of Radio World International appeared at that moment, when radio was still based on rotating devices, but the magic was becoming smaller and increasingly invisible since almost everything was bunkered behind the glowing front panel of CD players and cassette changers.

Soon after — and RWI was there to welcome that revolution — computers and digitized music reinvented both the practice and layout of radio studios.

VIRTUALIZATION

Suddenly, radio content no longer rotated. Everything became static and remote.

Radio studios still hosted the physical surfaces and PC monitors to control the whole system, but the system itself was usually installed into a separate room.

Software-based playout automation and music recommendation tools introduced a paradigm shift and dramatically changed the way radio professionals managed their stations. Digital audio formats completed the migration of radio studios to a static, software-centric model.

Just 10 years ago, a further revolution knocked at the industry’s door. Now we call this “virtualization,” but at the time the idea was just to have some software steps, each one capable of performing one of the routine tasks of a radio station’s everyday activity.

Telephone hybrids, microphone processors, mixing consoles, content players, STLs, etc., everything could run on off-the-shelf computer-based digital hardware devices, provided there was a proper network connection to the rest of the production facility and to the web.

For the first time ever, radio was able to do without single-purpose dedicated hardware, with exception of the control surfaces (since the real mixing was likely performed in the machine/server room). The next step along this path dates back to a few years ago: software developments and the availability of high-performing mobile devices, properly backed up by the ubiquitous availability of high-speed internet connection, opened the studios’ doors to virtual consoles.

Further, they allowed almost any station to set up a complete remote studio virtually everywhere. Through a single laptop PC or Mac a single person had full control of anything that could usually be done at the station’s studios or a group’s technical operations center, including airing a number of separate channels.

JUST WORKFLOW

A comprehensive virtualized approach can minimize equipment requirements. A fully featured radio station, including a visual channel and intense social media interaction, only needs a microphone, camera, headphones and a computer and a reliable internet connection.

DJ “Jivin’ Gene” spins records at the WWOZ studio in early 1980s. Photo CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Radio infrastructures and studios are not just virtualized, they are now dematerialized. They still exist but they lie in a nomadic “somewhere” in the cloud.

The first 40 years of radio needed a common layout and equipment to run a radio station and a radio studio. The last 60 years have been all about evolving and transforming both that layout and equipment as well as adapting and enhancing the relevant workflow.

Today so much of traditional studio gear no longer exists in a physical shape. The effort in radio production has become a matter of “workflow.”

Yet, while hardware and software may have moved to the cloud, radio is still here. The competitive landscape of the medium has also evolved enormously. Since the ubiquitous availability of internet, a number of competing platforms have begun offering audiences new kinds of audio services.

This may scare some radio broadcasters. But one must consider that in any market segment fair competition usually enhances the quality of the end product and fosters consumer loyalty. Why shouldn’t it be the same for radio?

TALKING TO

So, what will happen to radio over the next 30 years?

In the future the concept of “audio consumption” will replace the idea of “radio listening.” The distribution mix and the fruition model of radio will probably experience a dramatic change. But we don’t have to confuse radio with its receiving device.

Radio is not just news, talent talk and music. Radio is storytelling and the ability to entertain and engage a target audience through the appropriate blend of stories, news and music.

A multitude of distribution platforms means a multitude of ways to reach our target audience. But while a customized playlist is “for” a specific listener, radio “talks to” the same listener. No matter if five- or five million people are listening, radio individually “talks to” each of them.

For many years, the sound of radio was the sound of vinyl records and turntables.

That’s the magic of radio, and that’s what radio stations have to preserve and even enhance. Using a radio station to broadcast a playlist turns that station into a music streaming service, just far more rigid than a streaming service. This is because listeners have no way to customize it.

A streaming service offering true storytelling through stories, news and music, de facto is a radio station. It’s our model with just a different distribution mix. But, again, radio refers to the content, not the distribution mix.

WHERE THINGS HAPPEN

Looking forward, the number of available stations will continue its rise with new stations targeting very specific audiences. The cost for producing content will significantly decrease, thus making it affordable to deploy many flavors of the same station, each of them targeting small or niche audience.

The overall audience numbers will probably remain similar to the present numbers, even if listening figures will be jeopardized through a much higher number of stations and channels. Future radio stations will probably be 100% virtual, with physical studio gear (if any) used for backup purposes only.

[Read: Radio World International Celebrates 30 years!]

The easiness to report from virtually everywhere, as well as to deploy a mobile studio, will move radio stations to be closer to where people meet and where things happen.

There will certainly still be RF transmitters and on-air broadcasts, as well as receivers featuring a return channel via IP to interact directly with the station. This will open new possibilities to engage the audience, offering them tailored information and content.

Overall operating cost per listener will not greatly vary in the future because the ongoing reduction in production and distribution costs will compensate for the need to produce much more content and to air more channels.

CALL FOR YOUTH

Provided radio succeeds in preserving its DNA, there is still one key item. Radio continues to lose its appeal with young listeners. Nowadays youth consumes more audio content than ever, but not radio.

This is happening in virtually every developed market, and thus far broadcasters have failed in reversing this trend.

This is most likely not because of the scarce appeal of radio content itself, but rather a matter of distribution channels and content format. Using various distribution platforms requires radio stations to properly repurpose their content to best fit each specific distribution channel. This may be the biggest challenge for radio in the future

Today’s youth are tomorrow’s listeners. According to radio listening reports per age group, their parents and relatives still listen to radio, both in car and at home. It is therefore natural that they are familiar with radio and have experienced a sort of endorsement for it.

The same thing happened to their parents, when they were young and that “imprinting” worked. The reasons why those premises are failing with today’s generation are still unclear.

Recently, the universal popularity of mobile devices across any age group drove many radio executives to trust that a well-shaped radio app could be an effective shortcut to bring radio back to the youth.

The results generally scored below expectations, probably because — once again — radio has been confused with its receiving device, while the crucial item is content.

A possible key to catching young peoples’ attention is through engaging apps and content designed and shaped in the way they want and are looking for.

 

The post The Lasting Tale Of Radio appeared first on Radio World.

Pleadings

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 20:00
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Actions

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 20:00
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Applications

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 20:00
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Broadcast Actions

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 20:00
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Podcast #219 – The Next Chance To Get an FM Station License; a College Station 60th; All-Digital AM

Radio Survivor - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 18:04

In April 2020 the FCC will open up the next auction for FM radio licenses. This is the next, and only currently scheduled opportunity to build a new radio station in the U.S. Jennifer, Eric and Paul discuss this news, along with celebrating the 60th birthday of KFJC-FM at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. We reflect on how KFJC and other college stations were trailblazers in programming and service, functioning a lot like public radio in the years before National Public Radio was created.

We also dive into the proposal to allow AM radio stations to all-digital, using HD Radio. These stations would be unreceivable on the millions of radios that don’t receive digital HD signals. We survey the supposed benefits of the idea, and the deficits.

Finally, we celebrate another momentous occasion, the 25th anniversary of a terrestrial station simulcasting on the internet. And, wouldn’t you know it – both stations credited with being first are college stations.

Show Notes

.@DVD points out that today is the 25th anniversary of @wxyc debuting the internet simulcast stream of its broadcast radio signal. This was indeed the birth of modern streaming media as we know it (not just streaming audio, but streaming media, period) 1/4 https://t.co/F4RDHkx5By

— Andrew Bottomley (@abottomley) November 7, 2019

The post Podcast #219 – The Next Chance To Get an FM Station License; a College Station 60th; All-Digital AM appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Kenya’s KISS FM Updates With Lawo RƎLAY

Radio World - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 16:00

KISS FM, the flagship radio station of Kenya’s the Radio Africa Group, recently installed a RƎLAY Virtual Radio system from Lawo in what it says was an effort to modernize.


RƎLAY is a mixing console that runs in a virtualized PC environment on a PC or laptop. It features a multitouch-enabled screen interface that can control things like voice processing and mix-minus. When paired with a third-party playout system or other third-party broadcast software, users can essentially run a broadcast studio through a single computer.

KISS FM designed its new studios around the RƎLAY virtual mixing console. All PC sources and outputs use AES67 as the Lawo A_line AoIP node translates microphones and other line-level sources to AES67. These are then available to RƎLAY via Ethernet and a network switch.

RƎLAY has features built-in audio shaping tools allowing for individual adjustment of all microphone parameters, including Lawo Automix and Autogain features.

Because RƎLAY uses standard AES67 networking, Radio Africa’s systems can be expanded to add more PCs and sources as their operational requirements change.

 

 

The post Kenya’s KISS FM Updates With Lawo RƎLAY appeared first on Radio World.

A Dead Battery Can Ruin Your Station’s Day

Radio World - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 11:38

Jim Leedham is a contract engineer in Omaha, Neb., and maintains many transmitter sites. Several have Broadcast Electronics transmitters. To keep memory presets in the event of a power failure, these rigs have a 9V battery located behind the hinged control panel. As a part of his maintenance procedure, Jim replaces the batteries yearly.

Fig. 1: Forget about replacing this battery. It destroyed the battery socket.

Recently, Jim performed this maintenance task on a BE FM1C1 1kW FM transmitter. However, when he attempted to remove the battery, the battery terminal came with it, seen in Fig. 1. One of the two sockets that make up the battery terminals actually broke off, shown in Fig. 2.

Fig. 2: A close-up of the “memory keep-alive” battery terminal.

This battery is important. It keeps transmitter presets alive, should there be an AC mains power failure.

Jim was able to cobble a replacement socket until the actual part arrived from BE. But in sharing this tip with Workbench readers, he offers a couple of warnings.

First,  place a label on the front panel noting that a battery is inside. Do this as a courtesy to other engineers who may not be familiar with this equipment.

Second, if you maintain these transmitters and encounter a power failure, beware! If the battery is dead, when power is restored and you attempt to restart the transmitter you’ll get zero RF output!

Since the battery kept the memory preset, if there’s no battery voltage, there’s no preset; the power goes to zero. It’s a simple process to press the “RAISE” power pushbutton, until the appropriate power level is achieved. As engineers, however, we always seem to look for the worst. It could never be as simple as just pressing the “RAISE” power button!

Jim is right, I had this problem on a higher-power BE unit years ago, and wasted time trying to troubleshoot why I had plate volts but no plate current or RF output. Talk about feeling foolish.

So now you know. Replace those batteries. Note the date of replacement on the side of the battery with a Sharpie or other brand of marker. If you make a chart of equipment needing batteries, you can replace them all, along with your smoke and fire detectors, at the same time each year.

What’s nice about the BE product is that you can replace the battery any time, not just during a maintenance session; that front panel is not interlocked. And if your timing is such that the power fails while you’re in the process of replacing the battery, at least you know how to get the transmitter back on the air.

By the way, if that scenario happens to you, make sure you buy a lottery ticket!

 

***

 

Frank Hertel, principal of Newman-Kees RF Measurements and Engineering in Evansville, Ind., has an older computer in his shop that is loaded with a 32-bit version of Windows 7. It is using a known “valid” issue of the operating system.

Recently, while on a phone call with a fellow engineer, Frank turned this computer on and noticed it was sluggish. He traced the slow speed as being due to the computer performing an update.

Frank continued to watch the process, while the long update continued. When it finally rebooted, the computer displayed a persistent screen message stating that his computer had an “Invalid Key.” It further stated that it was operating with an “Invalid Copy.”

The computer seemed to function normally, but it now presented the persistent message “ — Invalid — ” in the lower right of the screen. At various intervals Frank’s work would be interrupted by the presentation of a large message block in the middle of the screen. Canceling the message would let you continue to use the computer. There are other things it also did to try to get Frank to buy a “New Key.”

So, Frank went online to seek a fix. He located this site that repaired the problem: https://www.itechfever.com/how-to-fix-windows-7-not-genuine-error/.

If your valid issue of Windows 7 all of a sudden is nagging that your computer has an “Invalid” issue of Windows 7, you might give one of the methods on the site a try.

 

***

 

I really enjoy finding topics that generate great reader comments. The sticky issue of removing audio tape cartridge labels turned out to be one of those topics.

Curtis Media’s Dave Dalesky wrote that a former PD showed him how to apply either oil or peanut butter to the old label so it would come off easily. Maybe so, but I also envision the hungry overnight jock licking the carts. Maybe it’s a good thing we now trust computers with our audio playout!

Send Workbench tips and high-resolution photos to johnpbisset@gmail.com.

John Bisset has spent 50 years in the broadcasting industry and is still learning. He handles western U.S. radio sales for the Telos Alliance. He holds CPBE certification with the Society of Broadcast Engineers and is a past recipient of the SBE’s Educator of the Year Award.

The post A Dead Battery Can Ruin Your Station’s Day appeared first on Radio World.

Radio Station Visit #163: Community Radio Station KGNU in Boulder

Radio Survivor - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 08:51

Summer began for me with a short trip to Colorado, which prompted a road trip to see the sights of Boulder, including famed community radio station KGNU 88.5 FM/1390AM. Founded in 1978, the station has staff of less than ten, but an active roster of around 400 volunteers and a broadcast that reaches from Boulder to Denver and beyond.

Entrance to community radio station KGNU. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

KGNU was recently on my radar after I learned about its long-running hip-hop program, “The Eclipse Show,” (reportedly the longest running hip-hop show anywhere) during a 2018 Radio Survivor interview with Hip-Hop Radio Archive founder Ryan MacMichael. Following that episode, we spoke with one of the hosts of the Eclipse Show, DJ A-L, to learn more about its 40 year history. As it turns out, the program’s history as “an alternative black radio show” (beginning in 1978) and current incarnation as a live music mix show parallels the history of KGNU; which piqued my interest about the station even more.

Collage of covers of KGNU Radio Magazine from anniversary display at KGNU. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Coincidentally, KGNU kicked off its recent 40th anniversary celebration (read about the station’s early history here) with a New Year’s Eve hip-hop show, followed by a series of events, including a gala and a museum exhibit. Over the airwaves, the station did weekly music flashbacks (“40 Years in 40 Weeks”) and monthly programming flashbacks (“Flashback 40”), highlighting historic archives, including early LGBTQ and feminist programming.

Flyer for KGNU’s 40th anniversary “Listening Together” exhibit. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Music and public affairs programming are important aspects of KGNU, with the FM schedule comprised of news/public affairs during traditional commute times (weekday mornings and afternoons) and for much of the daytime hours on Saturdays. Music rounds out the FM schedule and is also the entire focus of a special KGNU stream called “After FM,” for listeners who would like to tune in to KGNU music programming round-the-clock.

Turntable at KGNU. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

In addition to “The Eclipse Show,” another long-time program on KGNU, “Reggae Bloodlines,” has been on the air since 1978. Other music shows run the gamut from blues to electronic to folk to opera to jazz to experimental sounds.

Reggae CDs in KGNU music library. Photo: J. Waits

On my visit to KGNU, Station Manager Tim Russo showed me around the Boulder digs and sat down for an interview with me. Connected with KGNU for around 20 years (and Station Manager since 2015), he first got involved while a student and campus activist, telling me that he recognized that radio was a way to “amplify” voices.

KGNU station manager Tim Russo in the community radio station’s CD library. Photo: J. Waits

I was particularly excited to see the ways that KGNU works with local organizations, including numerous groups focused on youth. They’ve run youth radio camps, have worked with high school groups, and have a multi-year Media Gardens projects working with bilingual young people on art and radio projects.

Artwork at KGNU from a community partnership. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

KGNU has also brought high school students into the station alongside a training program (including bilingual storytelling) that takes place in the schools. Russo pointed out that they are already noticing an increase in interns from that partner high school and that it’s important for KGNU to learn from young people how to make the station a more “relevant” place for them.

Vinyl record art hanging at KGNU. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

Russo articulated KGNU’s desire to “keep the doors open” to youth and also allow for all volunteers to try new things and innovate. He said that it can be challenging for new folks to break into the programming schedule at KGNU, where there are more applicants than time slots. He’s hoping to create more opportunities and “side channels” in order to include more voices. In part, that’s where After FM and HD come in for KGNU. Those channels are available as “training and innovation spaces” and as places to try out new programming, according to Russo.

KGNU banner posted on the wall at the community radio station. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

KGNU’s ethos as a “community-powered” station is palpable. Russo elaborated that, “We’re very much a mission-driven organization and that’s to be an amplifier for underrepresented voices, culture and community. So we definitely say that KGNU for 40 years has been amplifying community voices, culture and music.”

KGNU spinner wheel. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survivor

The desire to keep in touch with and change with the community is admirable. Russo told me that KGNU strives to be “perpetually relevant” and a place that is “reflecting the interests of the community” as a “cultural center” and “hub” for the community. “It’s much more than a radio [station],” Russo opined.

Mosaic on wall at community radio station KGNU. Photo: J. Waits/Radio Survior

Thanks to Tim Russo and everyone at KGNU for the lovely summer visit. This is my 163rd radio station tour report and my 34th community radio station recap. View all my radio station visits in numerical order or by station type in our archives.


The post Radio Station Visit #163: Community Radio Station KGNU in Boulder appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Third Semi-Annual Report to Congress on United States-Based Foreign Media Outlets

FCC Media Bureau News Items - Tue, 11/12/2019 - 20:00
As required by the National Defense Authorization Act, the FCC Submits its Third Semi-Annual Report to Congress on Submissions by U.S.-Based Foreign Media Outlets

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