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Radio Currents Online - May 28 - Jun 3, 2007
FCC Releases Second R&O on EAS
Washington - May 31, 2007 - The Federal Communications Commission adopted a Second Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking relating to the Emergency Alert System (EAS). According to a release from the FCC, the order promotes the development of fully digital next generation technologies and delivery systems that will better serve the American public.
The order now requires EAS participants to accept messages using the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), no later than 180 days after FEMA announces its adoption of standards in each case. The Society of Broadcast Engineers and the Partnership for Public Warning have both endorsed the implementation of CAP with EAS. CAP will allow the encoded data to carry additional information that has so far been relegated to only the audio portion of an EAS message. Many text-capable devices are in use today, and many TV stations only provide a visual display of the encoded message, which currently is often vague.
The FCC's further notice seeks comments on how to deliver EAS alerts, emergency and public safety information to non-English speakers and those who are hard of hearing. The notice also commits to the adoption of a final order within six months.
The order also requires terrestrial EAS participants to transmit state and locally targeted EAS alerts that are originated by governors or their designees. The EAS currently only requires participants to replay messages from the President. The further notice seeks comment on whether participants should be required to deliver EAS alerts originated by local, county, tribal, or other state governmental entities.
The order states the Commission's intention to ensure that the EAS network is prepared to operate as intended. The further notice seeks comment on several possible means for achieving that goal, including additional testing, station certification, and post hoc assessments of how well the system worked after an EAS warning has been triggered.
All five commissioners issued statements on the action. Commissioner Copps stated that he believes that CAP is a good step to have been taken, but more needs to be done.
Radio magazine observation: Adding a requirement for EAS participants to carry state-level messages appears to have some merit, and creates a statewide distribution intended to emulate the national system. Unfortunately, the nationwide and many statewide systems are not as fully developed as many government leaders believe them to be. The FCC appears to acknowledge this in its statements.
Taking this approach one step further, the FCC seeks comment on requiring participation at regional and local levels. To do so eliminates the voluntary nature of EAS as it currently stands. If this step is enacted, the systems will require significant attention to train the users and ensure that the system is not abused or misused.
EB Docket No. 04-296
Google Proposes Real-time Spectrum Auction
Washington - May 25, 2007 - Broadcast Engineering - The FCC received a proposal from Google to sell spectrum in the same kind of real-time auction now used to sell advertising. The proposal came in the form of public comments to the FCC concerning the rules for the pending sale of spectrum in the 700MHz band. The spectrum is mostly used by UHF TV broadcasters.
The FCC is expected to establish rules for the auction later this year. Potential bidders, who are expected to use the spectrum to create advanced new wireless digital networks, include groups of telco, cable and satellite TV operators.
Google said it had no plans to bid in the auction, which is set for February 2009 and is part of the transition from analog to digital TV broadcasting. However, Google has been an advocate of greater competition in the contest for the spectrum.
"The driving reason we’re doing this is that there are not enough broadband options for consumers," Adam Kovacevich, a spokesman for Google’s policy office in Washington, told the New York Times.
To discourage speculators, currently the FCC usually sets a time frame and network build-out requirements that companies must meet before they are allowed to sell their rights to the spectrum to another company. Google suggests that the large companies that win spectrum rights from the government could allow other companies -- large or small -- to bid against each other in an auction to gain rights to use pieces of the spectrum for niche service delivery. Third parties could bid for the right to use the spectrum for a year, six months or even two seconds.
Google suggested to the FCC that by permitting companies to resell the airwaves in a real-time auction on an as-needed basis would greatly improve spectrum use and simultaneously create a viable marketplace for innovative new digital services. The New York Times reported that the Google proposal is for the wholesale auction of spectrum. In the future, however, such a system might require advanced computing technology built into wireless handsets and computers to automate the auction bidding process and permit it to take place without users noticing.
A significant remaining issue is whether the FCC will be able to meet a mandate in the digital TV law calling for reallocation of the frequencies to public safety organizations while simultaneously making spectrum available for commercial applications.
XM/Sirius Merge Debate Continues
Washington - May 31, 2007 - While the proposed merger of the two satellite radio broadcasters continues to be debated, additional voices are showing support for the transaction. The League of Rural Voters, the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Latino Coalition have all expressed support for the proposal. All three groups have petitioned the FCC to express their opinions.
The League of Rural Voters states that the combined entity would offer listeners in rural communities more programming options at lower prices than those currently available from the two companies separately. The group also highlighted the rural listeners who depend on satellite radio’s emergency and public safety stations.
The League of United Latin American Citizens and the Latino Coalition cited the diverse program offerings that the combined company could provide. Meanwhile, the National Association of Broadcasters continues to oppose the merger, and released an analysis of the antitrust issues involved. That analysis is available at this link. One of the key arguments in the NAB-commissioned study is that terrestrial radio and satellite radio are complementary services, not competing services.
AES Creates Eargle Scholarship Fund
Northridge, C - May 25, 2007 - Following the passing of audio industry pioneer John M. Eargle in May, details of a memorial tribute to the life and work of John Eargle to take place in Los Angeles on June 14 have been arranged. The event will be held at the Linwood Dunn Theater of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Hollywood, CA. The event will begin at 8 p.m. with a pre-reception starting at 6:30 p.m.
In addition, a scholarship fund has been established in Eargle's name through the Audio Engineering Society's Educational Foundation. The John M. Eargle Memorial Scholarship will be given to a deserving student who combines the attributes of engineering capability and musical interests in the tradition of John Eargle. The scholarship is being established with an initial donation from JBL/Harman International Industries. Contributions should be made by check to the AES Educational Foundation with instructions to credit the Eargle Fund. They should be mailed to AES Educational Foundation; Robert Sherwood, Treasurer; One Wolf's Lane; Pelham, NY 10803. All contributions will be acknowledged.
NAB Announces Tech Program for 2007 Radio Show
Washington - May 28, 2007 - The 2007 NAB Radio Show will be held in Charlotte, NC, Sept. 26 to Sept. 28. The NAB has announced the technical program agenda for the convention.
NAB Radio Engineering Forum
The forum is still in development, but will typically cover topics including digital transmission, audio processing, facility improvements, IP audio technology, antenna systems and remote broadcasting.
NAB RF Safety Course
This overview of RF radiation issues for broadcasters will cover RF radiation effects, FCC and OSHA regulations and workplace hazards.
NAB AM/FM Transmitter Workshop
This session provides an in-depth look at transmitter troubleshooting. It will cover basic AM and FM theory, routine maintenance techniques, troubleshooting, and a discussion of potential HD Radio installation problems.
More info on the convention is available at www.nabradioshow.com.
Eye on IBOC
FCC Releases Rules for IBOC
Washington - May 31, 2007 - On March 22, 2007, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a Second Report and Order, First Order on Reconsideration, and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on digital audio broadcasting. The text of that ruling was released on May 31, 2007.
Many of the details of the ruling were posted in the Radio Currents after they were adopted. This is to provide a link to the text: hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-07-33A1.doc.
MB Docket No. 99-325
Sony Joins HD Radio Manufacturer List
San Diego - May 28, 2007 - Sony has joined the list of consumer electronics manufacturers that produce HD Radio receivers. The company's first two offerings will be available in July 2007.
The AM/FM/HD Radio table radio (model XDR-S3HD) features a back-lit blue LCD display set in a mesh-covered front panel and cabinet with cherry wood finish. The unit also includes an auxiliary input jack, 20 AM and 20 FM presets, a wireless remote control and a built-in clock with sleep timer and alarm. The expected retail price will be about $200.
The mobile HD Radio tuner (model XT-100HD) is a hideaway module that connects through the Sony head unit's bus interface. It feeds PSD information to the car stereo's display. The tuner module is expected to retail for about $100.
Both units will be available through the sonystyle.com website and at participating retailers.
Philippine Radio Station Adds Multicasting
Manila, Philippines - May 24, 2007 - Radio Mindanao Network has commenced HD Radio multicast broadcasts in the Philippines. Station I FM 93.9 DWKC in Manila became the first commercial station in the country to broadcast with HD Radio technology as a limited test in 2006. The station recently began full-power HD Radio transmissions using a Nautel HD Radio FM transmitter with three multicast signals.
DWKC uses its existing 35kW transmitter for the analog signal and a new Nautel 1kW HD Radio transmitter for the digital signal. The system includes Nautel's M50 digital exciter, importer and exporter. Design and installation was provided by Broadcast World Philippines.
The Radio Mindanao Network was founded by Henry R. Canoy in 1952. The group, which will celebrate its 55th anniversary on-air in August 2007, owns and operates more than 50 AM, FM and TV stations throughout the Philippines.
BE Provides Transmitter for First Mexican Public AM HD Radio Demo
Morelia, Mexico - May 26, 2007 - One hundred and seventy station owners and engineers attended the first public demonstration of AM HD Radio broadcasts in Mexico on May 26. XEXL AM 690 in Patzcuaro, Michoacan, broadcast AM HD Radio live through a BE AM 2.5E transmitter as part of the demonstration, which was held in conjunction with the 71st convention of the Camara Nacional de la Industria de Radio y Television (CIRT) in nearby Morelia. Broadcasters gathered at the station's studios to listen to XEXL programming off-air on a variety of HD Radio receivers.
The AM demonstration comes just weeks after Mexico officials approved HD Radio for the country's AM and FM stations located within 200 miles of the U.S./Mexico border. For the demonstration, Felipe Padilla, BE's field engineer in Mexico, adapted XEXL's four-year-old BE AM 2.5E transmitter with the addition of a BE ASI 10 HD Radio signal generator and retuned the stations folded unipole antenna. An Orban 9500 audio processor was also on loan for the demonstration.
XEXL 690 is operating HD Radio under experimental authority from Cofetel, Mexico's broadcast regulatory agency, with authorization to transmit in HD Radio indefinitely for observation and measurement purposes. AM HD Radio is of particular interest to broadcasters here, as two-thirds of the radio stations in Mexico are broadcasting on the AM band.
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