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Radio Currents Online - Apr 23 - Apr 29, 2007
Government Accountability Office Releases EAS Report
Washington - Apr 23, 2007 - In March, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its report to Congress titled Emergency Preparedness. The report is subtitledCurrent Emergency Alert System has Limitations, and Development of a New Integrated System Will Be Challenging. The GAO performed the study to evaluate the current methods of informing the public during emergencies. The report notes the role that radio and TV play in informing the public.
The GAO reviewed the media's ability to meet federal requirements for participating in EAS, stakeholder views on the challenges facing EAS and potential changes to it, and the progress made toward developing an integrated alert system. The GAO reviewed the FCC's proposed rulemaking on EAS and interviewed media outlets, state emergency management officials and federal agencies responsible for EAS, including FCC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, within the Department of Homeland Security.
The Society of Broadcast Engineers, the Partnership for Public Warning and other groups have made regular filings on EAS, and it appears that many of the SBE and PPW ideas have been included in the report.
Within the 46-page report, several conclusions are stated. The report notes that radio and TV stations, cable operators, satellite radio operators and satellite TV operators are required to participate in national-level EAS alerts, and that these groups appear to be prepared to meet this requirement. The report notes that the FCC has limited resources in place to ensure compliance with current EAS requirements. One shortcoming is that many state and local EAS plans rely on station-to-station relays, which are not sufficiently reliable.
To improve the media's ability to issue emergency alerts, the GAO recommends that the DHS and the FCC develop a plan to verify the dependability and effectiveness of the EAS relay system, and that EAS participants have the training to issue effective EAS alerts. Also, the DHS and the FCC should establish a forum for stakeholders to address the challenges of implementing an integrated alert system. The GAO states that the DHS agreed with the intent of the GAO's recommendations, and the FCC provided technical comments.
Radio magazine observation: One of the difficulties in making EAS work is that the system relies on local plans for its success. In most cases, a few broadcasters make the effort to implement a system without the support of local governments or emergency responders to make it work properly. Some argue that it's not the responsibility of broadcasters to develop and implement the system, but that broadcasters should be only a participant. Creating non-over-the-air communications channels and educating the system administrators on these systems is critical to making the system work. Then broadcasters can be a distribution channel in the system, not the primary backbone.
The GAO report may help raise politicians' awareness and understanding of EAS, which may help to resolve some of the long-standing difficulties.
Read the GAO report at www.gao.gov/new.items/d07411.pdf.
VA Tech Radio Engineer Survives Shooting
Blacksburg, VA - Apr 26, 2007 - As the details of the Virginia Tech tragedy are released, there's one happier story that is making the rounds. Kevin Sterne, the student engineer at the campus radio station, WUVT, was wounded during the shooting. He was able to use an electrical cord as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding from his leg, which saved his life. He underwent surgery and is currently recovering in the hospital, but he's doing well.
Sterne's five-year pet project has been to relocate the station's transmitter. The current transmitter location is on top of a dorm building. The transmitter room does not have air conditioning. The transmitter is currently feeding a temporary antenna and delivering about half the station's licensed ERP. The university wants the station to relocate the transmitter facility, and the Sterne has been working on this project.
A new site has been located on a tower on nearby Price's Mountain, and the station has been raising money to fund this project. From what Radio magazine has learned, the land on Price's Mountain is owned by the school, but the tower is owned by Cumulus.
Following any crisis, questions are raised about what can be done to support those who suffered the tragedy. The Society of Broadcast Engineers contacted the station and spoke with Kim Foley, the outgoing station business manager, and William Glynn the incoming station business manager, who told the SBE that Kevin Sterne and his family have requested that recognitions and donations be made to the station. Donations should be noted as being for "Kevin" or "transmitter." Mail donations and items to:
att: "Kevin" or "Transmitter"
350 Squires Student Center
Blacksburg, VA 24061-0506
There is also a secure donation space online at www.wuvt.vt.edu. Select DONATE from the menu. In the space for "Show/DJ/Time Slot to Credit" enter "Kevin" or "transmitter."
Clear Channel is donating a Harris Z5 transmitter and six-bay antenna as well as a prefab building. The SBE is helping to arrange the additional needed equipment, engineering assistance and studies.
Additional information on this project will be posted as it becomes available.
Bill Introduced to Overturn Streaming Royalty Rates
Washington - Apr 27, 2007 - A bill was introduced in Congress on Apr. 26 that seeks to overturn the unpopular streaming royalty fee increase. Opponents of the royalty increase say that the fees will cripple if not destroy their streaming services.
Representative Jay Inslee of Washington and Don Manzullo of Illinois have offered the Internet Radio Equality Act that seeks to invalidate the March 2 decision by the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board that raises royalty rates paid by Internet radio broadcasters. NPR, Clear Channel and many small webscasters filed for a rehearing on the CRB matter, but those requests were denied.
The bill would repeal the CRB ruling and set a rate of either 7.5 percent of a webcaster's revenue that is directly related to its transmission of sound recordings or 33 cents per hour of sound recordings transmitted to a single listener. Each webcaster would be allowed to choose his payment calculation method. CNET reports that the proposed rates would also apply to satellite and cable radio operators.
In addition, the bill charges public radio broadcasters to submit a report to Congress that would detail how these outlets would determine rates for services.
Bridge Ratings Updates Digital Media Growth Projections
Glendale, CA - Apr 26, 2007 - Bridge Ratings, a radio audience measurement service company, has updated its quarterly digital media growth projections. The projections cover Internet radio, satellite radio, HD Radio, terrestrial radio, podcasting and cell phones. The overall results of the study show that Internet radio growth is booming, interest in satellite radio is waning, and HD Radio growth will continue to grow, but not at the rate previously predicted.
At the end of 2006, Bridge estimate that 24 percent of the U.S. population (72 million Americans) listened to online radio in the previous 30 days. In this newest update of the report, 25 percent have listened in the previous 30 days. Weekly listening has also climbed with 19 percent of the sample listening to some form of Internet radio in the previous 7 days up to 57 million per week.
Bridge anticipates that at the end of 2007, monthly Internet radio listening will reach 31 percent of the U.S. population and 38 percent by the end of 2008.
Satellite radio growth expectations in 2004 were showing subscription growth at a steady pace to reach a combined total (both services) of 32 million subscribers by 2010. The revised projection for 2007 now places the anticipated combined subscription at 24 million by 2010. Predictions for 2007 have been adjusted from the 2004 anticipated combined total of 15 million to the 2007 anticipated combined total of 13.5 million.
The HD Radio projections have been reduced to fewer than 500,000 users by the end of this year. The study asked respondents, "Why isn't HD radio catching on?" The number one response from those who have "little or no interest at this time" was "Don't see a need" followed by "Not aware of its benefits."
The report shows that podcasting is increasing as a popular method to receive audio entertainment. The complete report is available at www.bridgeratings.com.
SBE to Offer New Specialist Certification
Indianapolis - Apr 26, 2007 - Following recent changes in the FCC rules recognizing the viability of digital radio and the official endorsement of multicasting, the National Certification Committee of the Society of Broadcast Engineers has announced its next specialist certification, Digital Radio Broadcast (DRB). This specialist certification will qualify an individual's knowledge of digital radio broadcasting including audio processing, studio-to-transmitter links and transmission of multi-channel digital program streams. The official roll-out of this specialist certification will be during the SBE National Meeting, held in conjunction with SBE Chapter 20's Pittsburgh Regional Convention, Oct. 10 to Oct. 11, 2007, in Monroeville, PA.
While broadcast and media engineering continues to evolve to cover a broad range of technologies, certain aspects of broadcast engineering have a specific and specialized knowledge base. The SBE states that this is why the Specialist Certifications were developed.
The specialist certification will include knowledge of importers, exporters, the various methods of combining analog and digital transmitters to antenna systems, delivery of digital audio signals and data to transmitter sites, transmitter emission mask measurements, AM and FM FCC rules, monitoring of digital signals and bandwidth requirements for AM antenna systems.
By becoming a certified specialist, a radio broadcast engineer can assure his or her manager that he or she is up to date on the latest technology. Digital audio broadcasting is different than traditional analog services. An individual's ability to certify his or her knowledge of the entire system rather than just a single part will bring confidence to the individual and station management.
To apply for the SBE Digital Radio Broadcast specialist certification, applicants must currently hold SBE certification at the Broadcast Engineer, Senior Broadcast Engineer or Professional Broadcast Engineer certification level. The exam will consist of 50 multiple-choice questions and one essay question. Following the roll-out of the specialist certification, the SBE will release an update to its Cert Preview software of practice tests. To obtain an application for the Digital Radio Broadcast specialist certification, go to www.sbe.org/specialist_cert.php on the SBE website or contact the SBE national office at 317-846-9000.
The SBE currently offers two other Specialist Certifications that cover AM directional antenna concepts and 8-VSB technology.
Google Ad Sense Adds Compatibility with Several Systems
Mountain View, CA - Apr 16, 2007 - Google Ad Sense for Audio is now supported by commercial systems from Broadcast Electronics, Enco Systems and LAN International. Ad Sense for Audio is an automated method for radio stations to make their inventory available to Google advertisers.
Ad Sense for Audio is currently available to stations using BE's Audio Vault, Vault2 and AV100, Enco's DAD automation system and LAN International's Viero management suite of tools. Ad Sense also works with Google's SS32 and Maestro. It will soon operte with RCS Nexgen.
The Bar, Waitt Radio Networks Announce Distribution Agreement
Omaha, NE - Apr 24, 2007 - Waitt Radio Networks, Folger Entertainment Company and Dean James and Associates have signed an exclusive arrangement to syndicate The Bar, a new deeper country format. Waitt Radio Networks will offer The Bar with localized content for affiliates.
Las Vegas Pro Audio Adds Accousound
Las Vegas - Apr 23, 2007 - Las Vegas Pro Audio has added Accusound Cable Company to its line of audio products. All of Accusound's cables use hybrid, silver-plated copper conductors and silver compound solder.
LasVegasProAudio.com, a division of Transaudio Group, is the exclusive U.S. source for Accusound, ATC, Digital Audio Denmark, Daking, Enhanced Audio, Pauly and Soundfield.
Play MPE Digital Media System Launches In Canada
Vancouver, BC - Apr 23 - The Play MPE distribution system from Destiny Media Technologies is now available in Canada. Play MPE is already in use in the United States to distribute pre-release music to radio and other recipients.
Several record labels have already begun servicing releases to Canadian radio and other industry VIPs on the proprietary Destiny Media system. CMC Distribution and Rockstart Music use Play MPE exclusively.
Sony Adds XLR Adapter for PCM-D1
Las Vegas - Apr 15, 2007 - The Sony PCM-D1, introduced last year, has an added accessory to accommodate XLR mic connections: the XLR-1 adapter. The adapter provides two transformer-balanced microphone inputs with switchable phantom power. The supplied horizontal mounting bracket permits mounting underneath or beside the PCM-D1.
The recorder is equipped with a matched pair of built-in condenser microphones and a mic pre-amp from Analog Devices. The new option allows users to connect their own mics. The adapter uses four AA batteries to provide phantom power to condenser mics. The unit will be available in July.
Reflexion Filter Hits 15,000 Sales Mark
Apr 23, 2007 - The SE Reflexion filter, a sound absorbing filter that acts as a mini studio enclosure, was released one year ago. Since then it has sold more than 15,000 units worldwide.
The filter is placed near the microphone to provide an acoustic barrier between the mic other sources and surfaces.
Logitek Enhances Artisan, Mosaic Consoles
Las Vegas - Apr 16, 2007 - Logitek has upgraded its Artisan and Mosaic digital audio consoles. Both consoles are modular and available in a variety of frames sizes. With the upgrades, the Artisan console's number of possible faders has been increased from 30 to 32. Pop-up EQ and dynamics screen are also now available on the Artisan. A pop-up fader display with associated EQ and dynamics information in now available for Mosaic users.
Other new features include Vsnapshot, a capture and recall feature, that provides a pop-up GUI that will run on a user's VGA screen. Fifty scene captures are available per control surface. And for live radio applications, automatic mixing and ducking has been added to the consoles.
Enco Integrates Sound Exchange Reporting into 5.1e, DAD
Las Vegas - Apr 16, 2007 - Enco Systems is including reporting for Sound Exchange into its 5.1e and later versions of DAD. Support for the Sound Exchange reporting is a no-charge feature and is available to any DAD user currently under a technical support agreement.
Sound Exchange is the organization that collects and distributes royalties for performance of copyrighted material from certain U.S.-based broadcasters.
BE Updates IDI 20 Software
Las Vegas - Apr 16, 2007 - Version 2.0 of Broadcast Electronics' Dashboard software for its IDI 20 importer offers bit rate tachometers and on-console audio level controls. The software also includes an expanded audio buffer to give the importer greater flexibility when delivering multiple HD Radio channels. Broadcasters can now re-allocate channel bit rates on the fly. Version 2.0 is provided as a free upgrade to all BE IDI 20 customers.
Eye on IBOC
Best Buy Adds Digital Radio Line
Minneapolis, Orlando, FL, and Columbia, MD - Apr 23, 2007 - Best Buy, the HD Digital Radio Alliance and Ibiquity Digital have partnered to ensure that HD Radio receivers will be stocked at 832 Best Buy stores nationally. Best Buy is the first national retailer to make HD Radio technology available to customers throughout its national chain.
Best Buy will also initiate a consumer education effort that includes advertising in its weekly newspaper inserts and a comprehensive in-store, point-of-sale program featuring branding and product displays. In addition, interactive HD Radio listening stations will enable customers to experience the technology.
The alliance will supplement the effort with radio spots as part of its on-air promotional campaign.
Ibiquity Launches Next HD Radio Rebate Program
Columbia, MD - Apr 25, 2007 - Ibiquity has a new HD Radio Rebate Program in celebration of moms, dads and grads that reduces HD Radio receiver prices by $40. The program applies to most HD Radio receivers--from tabletops to car connect adapters--and runs from April 29 through July 3, 2007. The rebate certificate is available at www.hdradio.com/rebate beginning April 29.
National retailers of HD Radio products include Amazon.com, Best Buy, Circuit City, Costco.com, Crutchfield, Radio Shack, The Sharper Image, Tweeter and Wal-mart. There are also hundreds of other regional and specialty retailers that carry HD Radio products.
The following HD Radio products are eligible for the $40 rebate:
- Accurian: HD-TTR
- ADA: HDM1 Module
- Alpine: DVA-9965, TUA-T500HD
- Boston Acoustics: Receptor HD
- Cambridge SoundWorks: SoundWorks Radio HD820, SoundWorks Tuner HD850
- Day Sequerra: M1, M4
- Denon DRA 697CI with HD module
- Dice: HDBMW-T, HD-Honda-R3, HD-GM-R, HD-Audi-R, HD Toyota-R, HD-VW-R, HD-UNI-Aux, HD-IPOD-BMW, HD-IPOD-HON, HD-IPOD-GM,HD-IPOD-AUDI-VW-R, HD-IPOD-TOY, HD-IPOD-U-PKG
- Directed Electronics: DMHD-1000, DHHD-1000
- Eclipse: HDR-105
- JVC: KD-HDR1, KD-HDW10
- Kenwood: KTC-HR100TR
- Integra/Onkyo: C-HDXM Module
- Metra: AXXESS AHDT-01
- Niles: ICS TM-HD/R
- Panasonic: CQ-CB8901U
- Polk Audio: I-Sonic Entertainment System
- Polk Audio Designs: HDX3
- Peripheral: P-HDRT
- Radiosophy: MultiStream, HD100
- Rotel RT-1084HD
- Sangean: HDR-1, HDT-1
- Visteon: HDJump/HDP250, HDZoom/HDZ300, HDPULSE/HDT200
CRB Denies Appeals for Royalty Rate Changes
Washington - Apr 16, 2007 - The Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) has upheld its earlier decision on royalty rates to be paid by streaming services via the Internet. In addition, the three-judge panel has also denied motions for a rehearing of its March 1 decision that set performance royalty rates for Internet radio for the period from 2006 to 2010.
The CRB ruling noted that it did not see a sufficient showing of new evidence or error that would warrant a rehearing. The CRB also stated that it will not delay implementing the new rates because there are now no relevant pending appeals. The CRB cited a portion of the Congressional Copyright Act: "Congress, not the judges, determined the effective dates for the royalty rates. Congress determined that these rates would go into effect notwithstanding any pending motions for rehearing."
Online searches show that the only group that supports the CRB's decision is Sound Exchange, the entity that was established to collect the royalty fees. The royalty rate hikes will likely force many Internet radio streamers off the Internet.
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