Radio Currents Online - Jul 5 - Jul 11, 2004


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News

FCC Regulatory Fees Due by Aug. 19
Washington - Jul 2, 2004 - Licensees that are required to pay annual regulatory fees must make their FY2004 payments by Aug. 19, 2004. The official fee window opens Aug. 10, 2004, but payments may be sent prior to that date. All regulatory fee payments must be received at the Commission's Pittsburgh, PA, address by the deadline to avoid being assessed a 25 percent penalty.

The FCC has begun a process of sending fee notices to some licensees that are required to pay fees. These notices will continue to be mailed through the middle of July 2004. Because not all licensees who owe fees will receive a notice, the FCC encourages all licensees to check the FCC website at (www.fcc.gov/fees/regfees.html) for specific information on payment of FY2004 regulatory fees.


FCC Issues NPRM to Require Logging
Washington - Jul 7, 2004 - The FCC has released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to require broadcasters to retain recordings of their programming for a limited period of time. The Commission states that this will allow the agency to increase the effectiveness of its process of enforcing restrictions on obscene, indecent and profane broadcast programming. The action was taken on June 21, 2004.

The Supreme Court has determined that obscene speech is not entitled to First Amendment protection and cannot be broadcast at any time. However, indecent speech is protected by the First Amendment so it cannot be outlawed completely. Commission regulations limit airing potentially indecent programming to the hours of 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. when children are less likely to be in the audience. The NPRM seeks comment on enhancing the FCC's enforcement processes through proposed program recording retention requirements for broadcast stations to improve the adjudication of complaints.

Because the Commission does not independently monitor broadcasts for obscene, indecent or profane material, its enforcement actions are based on documented complaints received from the public. To help the FCC evaluate allegations of objectionable programming, a complaint must include a significant excerpt from the program or a full or partial tape or transcript of the program; the date and time of the broadcast; and the call sign of the station involved. Although a complainant is not required to provide a tape or transcript, he must provide sufficient information regarding the content at issue to place it in context.

By requiring broadcasters to retain a recording of all material aired during the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., the Commission would have a complete record to decide whether to initiate enforcement proceedings after an investigation.

Commissioner Michael Copps issued a statement stating that the current enforcement of broadcast indecency places "inordinate responsibility upon the complaining citizen" to provide a recording of the suspected offense. He further stated that "this policy ignores that it is the Commission's responsibility to investigate complaints that the law has been violated, not the citizen's responsibility to prove the violations." Copps has supported mandatory logging since his appointment to the Commission.

A basic logging system can be created with long-playing VCRs, enabling a station to meet the proposed rules for a minimal investment. More elaborate, flexible and reliable systems are available through a variety of manufacturers.

NPRM Comment Date: July 30, 2004
NPRM Reply Comment Date: August 30, 2004
MB Docket No. 04-232


Replies to FCC's FNPRM Reach High-water Mark
By Mark Krieger, CBT
Washington - What had been a steady stream of responses to the FCC's request for comments on its April 15 Final Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) on IBOC digital broadcasting became a flood as a July 15 filing deadline for responses draws close. Following the NAB's lead a few weeks ago, scores of state broadcast associations and public broadcasting groups joined with industry giants like Clear Channel, Infinity, Cox and Entercom in an effort to reform the FCC's approach to codifying IBOC digital broadcast operation in the United States.

While a variety of agendas were presented to the Commission, several central themes continue to develop. A view expressed with near unanimity is that new rules governing IBOC be as limited as possible, in order to allow IBOC technology to develop and evolve in an innovative fashion. Likewise, almost all respondents ask that broadcasters be permitted to partition their digital bandwidth as they see fit. This would allow FM IBOC digital hybrid stations to multicast with secondary audio channels (SACs) and data streams, with market forces acting as the ultimate arbitrators of audio bit-rate/quality. Most commenters also expressed a desire to be permitted to lease SACs and data streams in the same way analog FM's currently lease their SCA channels.

By far, the most contentious issue to emerge from filings revolves around nighttime operation of AM IBOC digital transmissions. While the NAB and 44 state broadcast associations continue to urge the FCC to permit 24 hour digital AM operation on a routine basis, several groups - most notably Clear Channel - request the implementation of a notification process. Such a process would require AM stations that wish to commence nighttime operation with an IBOC digital signal to notify in advance the FCC and any co-channel or first-adjacent station that might be affected by the IBOC operation. This would allow stations subject to potential increase of interference to reply and document conditions prior to IBOC operation so that any interference increases might be dealt with in an expeditious fashion. Clear Channel went so far as to request the imposition of a mandatory 6dB reduction of digital carriers for any AM IBOC station causing increased interference during digital night operation until all affected parties agree to a mutually acceptable remediation plan.

On balance, however, broadcasters and other interested parties seem to be largely in concert. Like the NAB's itemized address of issues highlighted by the FCC in the FNPRM, most comments favor a flexible, hands-off approach to the continued role-out of digital radio. Few comments, for example, favored imposition of new public service programming requirements, while most concurred that issues like EAS could easily be accommodated within the scope of existing requirements. Most respondents also agreed that the Commission should move quickly on publishing new rules, to hasten adoption of the new technology by broadcasters and consumers, thus helping radio to remain competitive in a rapidly evolving media environment.


FCC Schedules Next Localism Hearing
Washington - Jul 2, 2004 - The next FCC Localism Task Force hearing will be held July 21 in Monterey, CA, at the Monterey Conference Center. The hearing will gather information from consumers, industry, civic organizations and others on broadcasters' service to their local communities. Besides gathering information, the hearing will focus on outreach for the ongoing nationwide round of broadcast station license renewals.

Designated speakers will include representatives from consumer and advocacy groups as well as broadcasters. The hearing format will enable members of the public to participate via an open microphone session. A live audio webcast of the proceeding will be available on the FCC's website.


Take the Jacobs Media Indeceny Test
By Chriss Scherer, editor
Southfield, MI - Jul 5, 2004 - Jacobs Media, a radio consulting firm that specializes in rock formats, has created an interactive Indecency IQ test at /www.jacobsmedia.com/iqtest.htm. The 25-question test allows visitors to "be an FCC Commissioner-for-a-day" to "test your knowledge about how the FCC’s indecency rule is interpreted and enforced."

A perfect score qualifies you as a Master of Indecency.

The test takes just a few minutes to complete. I took the test and received a perfect score. The questions present real-life scenarios that ask the examinee to select a true or false answer.

In most cases, common sense alone can guide you to the correct answer. When in doubt, choose the conservative answer.

With the renewed interest in indecency, stations might be wise to provide a similar test to its on-air employees.


Business

Sales Call
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  • Broadcast Electronics supplied the U.S. Air Force with broadcast equipment for a new FM station now broadcasting in Iraq. Freedom FM 107.7 is also using BE FM transmitters to broadcast music and information to U.S. troops. Broadcasting is dispersed across multiple low-powered transmission sites throughout the country ranging in power from 100W to 1kW to reach concentrated areas where troops are deployed. Two BE FM-1C1 1kW transmitters are located in Baghdad. The program feed is also picked up in Kuwait, where it is rebroadcast by two BE FM-5C 5kW transmitters there.
  • Crawford Broadcasting Company recently selected a Wheatstone Generation Series broadcast audio system comprised of one Bridge Router, four Satellite Cages and four Generation 5 control surfaces. Crawford also elected to have Wheatstone provide its Wiremax line of studio pre-wiring. Crawford currently has 29 AM and FM stations in 12 markets nationwide.
  • People

    Internet Watch

    Live365 Launches Radio365
    Foster City, CA - Jul 6, 2004 - Live365 has launched Radio365, an application-based Internet radio player for Windows and Mac. Radio365 also links Internet radio with digital downloads, enabling listeners to purchase tracks of interest from a station's playlist. Listeners click a buy button to locate the track in the Itunes Music Store.

    Listeners can download a free 35-hour trial. After the trial, a one-time fee of $14.95 can be paid for unlimited listening, or the player can be used for free with access to fewer stations.


    Products

    JVC IBOC Receiver to be in Stores This Month
    Columbia, MD, and Warren, NJ – Jul 8, 2004 –Ibiquity has certified JVC's KD-SHX900 HD Radio car receiver, the KD-SHX900, which should be in stores later this month. The JVC unit is a single DIN, in-dash unit.

    JVC is one of the few manufacturers delivering IBOC receivers today. Kenwood and Panasonic introduced units earlier this year.


    Pulsecom Upgrades PCAU to Stereo
    Herndon, VA – Jul 6, 2004 - Pulse Communications (Pulsecom) has upgraded the Program Channel Access Unit (PCAU) to provide stereo audio capability. The updated feature set was developed to ensure the stereo imaging between the left and right audio channels in an FM pair is retained.

    The Pulsecom PCAU, developed in conjunction with APT, has sold more than 1,000 units. This encoder/decoder card incorporates APT's Apt-x data compression algorithm and can pass 20Hz to 15kHz audio over a 128kb/s dedicated ISDN link.


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