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FCC Adopts IBOC Ruling
Washington - Mar 22, 2007 - During its open agenda meeting held today, the FCC accepted the standing Second Report and Order, First Order on Reconsideration, and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning various service rules and other requirements for radio stations broadcasting digital signals with the in-band, on-channel system developed by Ibiquity. The action changes several procedural aspects for stations who operate using the HD Radio system. The most notable change allows AM stations to transmit a hybrid IBOC signal fulltime and not just during the daytime hours.

Other key elements of the proceeding:

  • The action streamlines the procedures to allow FM multicasting without prior FCC authority
  • It allows FMs to use separate antennas without applying for special temporary authority
  • It allows FM stations to operate in extended hybrid mode operation
  • It allows IBOC operation by FM translator, FM booster and LPFM stations.

    For stations to transmit an HD Radio signal, the order requires stations to provide a free digital signal that is comparable to existing analog signal quality, and that the main channel analog signal and the HD1 signal must be the same program. Stations are allowed to allocate their bandwidth as they like to transmit multiple audio streams and data services at their discretion. In addition, stations are allowed to lease their unused bandwidth to third parties, subject to certain regulatory requirements.

    Operationally, IBOC stations are required to observe the same EAS, political broadcasting, station ID and sponsor identification rules that apply to main-channel streams on all free programming streams. The Second Report and Order refrains from mandating a conversion schedule for stations to commence IBOC transmissions, and the order does not yet authorize exclusive digital operations at this time. Further, the Second R&O defers consideration of the digital radio standards already approved by the National Radio Systems Committee until a later date. The order also recognizes that further negotiations are taking place between the United States and other countries to resolve possible disputes concerning IBOC operation.

    One major issue surrounding DAB has been the possibility of imposing a content control requirement to prevent listeners from archiving and redistributing digital music recordings. The order does not include anything on this, deferring that discussion to a later date, noting that negotiations on this issue are still pending.

    The First Order on Reconsideration dismisses several pending petitions for reconsideration and petitions for rulemaking that ask the commission to reconsider the adoption of the IBOC system as the designated technology for DAB transmission.

    The Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks further comment on the appropriate limits to the amount of subscription services that may be offered by terrestrial radio stations. It also seeks comment on whether to impose statutory and regulatory public interest requirements on subscription services, and whether the commission should adopt additional public interest requirements for DAB.

    Radio magazine observations: This FCC action will obviously be applauded by Ibiquity and the broadcasters who have made the commitment to adopt HD Radio technology. Because the ruling does not include mandates for stations to commence IBOC operations, it's allowing the market to decide. Stations that oppose the system still have the choice not to adopt the technology.

    The action does not mandate stations to provide specific community-interest, local or minority-related programming on multicast streams, which Commissioner Adelstein and Commissioner Copps noted in their dissenting comments. In addition, Copps noted that if station licensees are able to provide multiple program streams that there may no longer be reason to allow a licensee to own multiple stations within a market. Commissioners Taylor-Tate, McDowell and Martin believe that licensees will do the right thing and use the additional streams to provide public interest programming on their own.

    Allowing AM stations to commence IBOC transmissions at night will be a hotly contested decision. The IBOC opponents will be vocal on this issue, and the proponents will likely state that this is all the more reason to move to all-digital transmissions as soon as possible. Either way, having AM hybrid stations operate at night will provide more information and real-world data on AM IBOC.


    FCC Commissioners to Speak at NAB
    Washington - Mar 23, 23007 - FCC Commissioners Michael Copps, Jonathan Adelstein and Deborah Taylor Tate will participate in the Regulatory Face Off on Tuesday, April 17 during NAB2007 in Las Vegas. Attendees will be able interact with federal regulators, Capitol Hill insiders and legal experts on a number of governmental issues that will impact the broadcast industry.

    The Regulatory Face Off will be held from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Las Vegas Hilton Ballroom A. For more information visit www.nabshow.com.


    FCC Open Meeting to Include IBOC
    Washington - Mar 15, 2007 - The FCC will hold an open meeting on several subjects on March 22, 2007. The meeting is scheduled to commence at 9:30 a.m. One major item of interest on the agenda involves the long-awaited digital radio report and order.

    Officially titled Digital Audio Broadcasting Systems and Their Impact on the Terrestrial Radio Broadcast Service (MM Docket No. 99-325), the agenda item was bumped from a previous open meeting several months ago. The item summary states that the commission will consider a Second Report and Order, First Order on Reconsideration, and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning service rules and other requirements for radio stations broadcasting digital audio.

    This radio hot-button will easily generate a great deal of discussion on digital radio, as the IBOC proponents and opponents each anticipate an outcome to support their stance.

    Other radio broadcast items are on the agenda as well, including a memorandum opinion and order evaluating approximately 200 applications for 76 mutually exclusive groups to construct new or modified NCE FM broadcast stations, and license renewal and transfer of ownership for a number of Disney-owned stations being transferred to Citadel.

    The meeting will be streamed (maximum 200 connections) live and available afterwards.


    FCC's Martin and Copps Make Staff Changes
    Washington - Mar 16, 2007 - FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and FCC Commissioner Michael Copps have made some changes to their personal staffs.

    Martin has named Michelle Carey as his legal advisor for media issues and Ian Dillner his legal advisor for wireline issues. In addition, Martin announced two acting advisors. Erika Olsen will be his acting wireless advisor and Nick Alexander will be his acting wireline advisor during Ian Dillner's transition to the Chairman's Office.

    Heather Dixon served as Martin's legal advisor on media matters for the past two years. Dixon's new role has not yet been announced.

    Michelle Carey has been Martin's legal advisor for wireline issues since April 2005, after serving as deputy chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau since September 2004. Prior to that, she was chief of the Competition Policy Division for nearly five years and also supervised numerous adjudicatory proceedings. Carey served as deputy chief and staff attorney in the Policy and Enforcement Divisions of the former Common Carrier Bureau. Before joining the Commission,. Carey clerked for the Hart T. Mankin of the U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals.

    Ian Dillner is currently legal advisor to FCC Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate, after serving as acting legal advisor to Martin on wireline issues. Previously, Dillner served as a legal advisor to the chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau and as a senior attorney in the Competition Policy Division of the Wireline Competition Bureau.

    Erika Olsen most recently served as the deputy chief of the Telecommunications Access Policy Division in the Wireline Competition Bureau. Prior to joining the Commission, Olsen was a partner at the law firm of McDermott Will and Emery.

    Nick Alexander is an attorney advisor in the Competition Policy Division of the Wireline Competition Bureau. Prior to joining the commission, Alexander was an associate at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld.

    Jessica Rosenworcel, senior legal advisor and advisor on media issues to Commissioner Michael Copps will leave the FCC to serve as senior legal counsel to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, working on telecommunications and media issues. Copps' office, Rosenworcel served as legal counsel to the chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau.

    Bruce Gottlieb, advisor on spectrum and international issues, will serve as the Copps' primary point-of-contact for media issues and Scott Deutchman will serve as advisor on competition and universal service issues. John Branscome--on detail from his post as chief of the Spectrum and Competition Policy Division of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau--will assist on spectrum and international issues.


    Business

    25-Seven Systems Becomes Axia Partner
    Cleveland - Mar 20, 2007 - 25-Seven Systems has become the latest manufacturer to implement the Livewire IP-audio protocol for audio over Ethernet. 25-Seven Systems will introduce Livewire compatibility for its Audio Time Manager time compression processor at NAB2007.


    Breaking Moore's Law
    San Francisco - Mar 21, 2007 - A recent Reuters article poses the possibility that Moore's Law (technically, it's an axiom, maxim or postulate) is on the verge of being broken when it comes to memory. Moore's Law states that the number of transistors that could be housed on a given area of silicon doubles every two years. Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel and the man who suggested the concept, later reduced the time period to 18 months. He posed this concept in 1965.

    The Reuters article notes that while processors are still following Moore's concept, memory circuits have reached such a minute scale that further reductions in physical space are just not possible. Memory chips use pools of charged electrons to store data. As the number of electrons in each pool shrinks, it gets harder to read the stored data. Memory circuits currently can be as small as 50 nanometers.

    Development of new data storage systems are currently in development, and as the demand for greater capacity increases, these new systems may be called for sooner than later. Before long, life may once again emulate Star Trek when bio-neural gel packs are used to store gigaquads of data.


    Sales Call
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    Beasley Broadcast Group has contracted James Loupas Associates to provide audio processing consulting services for the Beasley stations in Philadelphia, Miami and Las Vegas.

    Internet Watch

    NPR Appeals to Copyright Royalty Board
    Washington - Mar 19, 2007 - On behalf of the public radio system, NPR filed a motion for rehearing with the Copyright Royalty Board in response to the CRB's March 2, 2007, decision on rates for streaming Internet music. This action is the first step in NPR's efforts to reverse the decision, and it will be followed by an appeal of the board's decision to be filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

    Andi Sporkin, vice president for communications of NPR, said that "the Board's decision to dramatically raise public radio stations' rates was based on inaccurate assumptions and lack of understanding of the issues. The new rates inexplicably break with the longstanding tradition of recognizing public radio's non-commercial, non-profit role, while the procedures we're being asked to now undertake for measurement are non-existent, arbitrary and costly."

    Sporkin added that the board's decision attempts to equate public radio with commercial radio.

    Read the NPR appeal at this link.

    The CRB has since agreed to hear certain appeals, but has not scheduled a complete rehearing.




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