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Radio Currents Online - Aug 2 - Aug 8, 2004
Radio technology news updated as it happens.
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Localism Comment Date Extended
Washington - Aug 3, 2004 - On June 7, 2004, the FCC issued a Notice of Inquiry (MB Docket No. 04-233) to solicit comments on the role that broadcasters play in meeting the needs of their local communities. The inquiry was issued July 1.
The original comment and reply comment dates were Sept. 1, 2004, and Oct. 1, 2004. Following requests for extensions on the comment deadlines from the NAB, the Illini Media Company and the Media Access Project for extension ranging from 45 days to 61 days, the FCC has granted a time extension.
An additional 61 days have been granted to file comments and replies. Comments are now due by Nov. 1, 2004. Reply comments are due by Dec. 1, 2004.
Frequency Coordination Sees Challenges at DNC
Boston - Aug 5, 2004 - Despite some unexpected RF interference from government security spectrum users, the Democratic National Convention in Boston last week was a resounding success for those responsible for coordinating how the news media used spectrum to cover the event.
According to Louis Libin, appointed by the FCC to be the frequency coordinator for both political conventions, planning for the event was textbook. "The relationship with the FCC was tremendous," he said. "We acquired all of the special temporary authorizations that were needed, and the cooperation among all the broadcasters was great."
The overall success didn't mean there weren't a few headaches along the way. Heightened security meant Libin and his committee had to deal with interference from government security agencies.
"The biggest challenge was not getting feedback from the (security) agencies, because they didn't feel like they had to provide it. Basically, they feel like our responsibility is broadcast and theirs is security," he said.
At political conventions prior to the heightened security concerns, the security agencies would inform the coordinator where interference problems were occurring. "But now there is a new level of confidentiality," he said.
In this environment, the FCC served as an intermediary between Libin and the security agencies. "We worked with the FCC (on-site) and hoped they could resolve the issues, but they couldn’t reveal the details." The other problem Libin and is committee faced were independent news crews showing up in Boston expecting to use their wireless mics without prior clearance. "Some of these news crews don't realize that a wireless mic is a wireless mic," he said.
"Going to the convention is like going into a Grand Prix auto race. You can't just go there facing 1,000 other cars. All of your equipment has to be tuned up. We can't go there and be expected to make sure their equipment has the right isolators, filters, circulators. Nor can we be expected to make sure it's not putting out any spurs (spurious signals)."
At the Republican National Convention, Libin hopes to build on the lessons learned in Boston and garner the help of convention organizers.
"At the Super Bowl, you can count on one hand the number of wireless cameras inside the event," he explained. "At this event it is many, many times that and in bands that have never ever been used before or been shared with other users. The RF level use is higher, and the way the equipment is used stresses it to the absolute maximum."
"As long as there's not a single rights holder to the political conventions, which probably will never happen, there will be no end in sight to the intensive spectrum use and the need for cooperation and coordination," Libin said.
FCC Seeks Comment on Rule Changes for EAS
Washington, DC - Aug 4, 2004 - The FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) concerning the Emergency Alert System (EAS), seeking comment on how EAS can be improved to be a more effective mechanism for warning the American public of an emergency. The action stems in part from recommendations of the Media Security and Reliability Council (an FCC Advisory Committee), and the Partnership for Public Warning.
The Commission has already begun -- and will continue throughout this proceeding -- to coordinate carefully with the Department of Homeland Security and its component, FEMA and the Department of Commerce and its component, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service. These federal partners will be active participants in the proceeding. In addition, the Commission seeks participation of state and local emergency planning organizations as well as all communications industries involved in alert and warning.
All five Commissioners issued separate statements. All the comments touched on the emotional elements of emergency warnings, with mentions of saving lives and disasters such as 9/11. Adelstein's comments in particular were out of place, referring to the current EAS as "increasingly outdated."
Adelstein went on to say, "The Cold-War era EAS system is an imperfect system for our modern society, but for the near term it remains one of the best options we have to deliver emergency messages to as many people as possible as quickly as possible."
Adelstein seems to be confusing EAS with EBS.
Opinions vary on the effectiveness of the current EAS. Because so much of the system's details are left to individual areas, the result is that some regions have systems that are highly effective, while other areas can barely forward a test message.
EB Docket No. 04-296
Colorado Health Report Finds no Problems from RF
Denver - Aug 2, 2004 - No conclusive evidence exists linking adverse health effects of Lookout Mountain residents with high-powered broadcast antennas and transmitter towers located west of Denver, according to updated findings of a report from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
The report, released July 22, is sure to fuel the fire in the debate between opponents of a new DTV antenna tower to be shared by members of the Lake Cedar Group consortium, including Denver TV stations KCNC-TV, KMGH-TV, KUSA-TV and KTVD-TV.
"This study, a statistical review of specific disease rates, cannot produce conclusive information about any link with adverse health events among residents of Lookout Mountain although the update does confirm a persistent elevation of brain/central nervous system tumors in the areas closest to the antenna farm," said Colorado Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ned Calonge.
According to Calonge, there were dissimilar patterns of tumor occurrences in two areas where the elevations were detected, with elevations attributable to benign tumors diagnosed in females in one area and malignant tumors diagnosed in males in the other area. These dissimilarities, Calonge said, make it even more difficult to link them to causative factors.
During the 23-year period covered by the studies, the overall cancer rate for the Lookout Mountain area totaled 882 diagnosed cases when a total of 968 would have been expected.
County commissioners in Jefferson County are scheduled Aug. 12 to once again take up the matter of allowing the Lake Cedar Group to erect a single DTV tower to replace existing towers on Lookout Mountain.
Last year, the commission approved the group's plan, but opponents in Golden, CO, succeed in a court effort to stay the decision until more information about the potential harmful effects of RF radiation in the area could be acquired.
AFTRA Adopts Freedom to Report Resolution
Washington - Aug 2, 2004 - The National Board of the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (AFTRA) unanimously adopted a resolution affirming The Freedom To Report and the Freedom To Know. Originating in Seattle, AFTRA released the statement as a reminder of the importance of a free press to the democratic process. AFTRA wants to stress that broadcast journalists must be allowed the freedom to present the facts.
The text of the resolution is available on the AFTRA website at www.aftra.org/press/pr_20040710_seattle_statement.html.
FCC OKs 800MHz Rebanding Plan
By Donny Jackson, Mobile Radio Technology
Washington - Jul 8 2004 - FCC commissioners unanimously approved an order to mitigate public-safety radio interference at 800MHz by realigning operators in the band and granting Nextel Communications 10MHz of replacement spectrum at 1.9GHz. Nextel will pay at least $3.2 billion in cash as part of the ruling.
The FCC determined the nationwide swath of 1.9GHz spectrum to be worth $4.8 billion. Nextel's spectral contributions of airwaves in the 700MHz and 800MHz bands -- including an additional 4.5MHz of 800MHz spectrum for public safety -- were deemed to be worth $1.6 billion. Under the plan, Nextel would pay all costs associated with relocating public-safety entities and other 800MHz users as part of the rebanding process. Nextel also would pay its own relocation costs and those of broadcasters at 1.9GHz.
If these relocation costs total less than $3.2 billion, Nextel will donate the difference as a windfall payment to the U.S. Treasury. If the relocation costs are more than $3.2 billion, Nextel will be obligated to pay that amount but would not have to make any payment to the U.S. Treasury. As a safety net, the plan calls for Nextel to take out a $2.5 billion letter of credit to ensure that relocation costs would be paid even if the wireless carrier encountered financial difficulties such as bankruptcy.
Rebanding in the 20 markets deemed to have the greatest 800MHz interference issues will occur within 18 months after the order becomes effective. Broadcasters at 1.9GHz must be relocated within 30 months of the effective date, and all rebanding would be completed within 36 months, according to the plan.
During the meeting, FCC Chairman Michael Powell said the two-year proceeding has featured "some of the most ruthless lobbying I've ever encountered" and described the matter as "the most difficult, complex, and challenging issue I have ever worked on in seven years at the Commission."
Whether the rebanding plan will be executed remains unclear. The U.S. General Accounting Office has announced its intent to investigate the matter to determine whether the FCC has the authority to award 1.9GHz spectrum without conducting an auction. In its order, the FCC indicated that it reserves the right to alter its order to comply with GAO findings.
Powell urged Nextel and its shareholders to accept the terms of the deal "for the good of the American people." If Nextel decides not to comply with the rebanding plan, the wireless carrier will have to adhere to technical "best practices" without receiving any contiguous spectrum. Nextel issued a statement that it is not prepared to make such a determination today.
"The information released by the commission contains few details regarding the obligations its decision would impose on Nextel," the company said in a statement. "Once the commission's order is released, we have an obligation to review all aspects of the decision to fully understand the implications to Nextel's shareholders."
Similarly, Nextel rival Verizon Wireless declined to make its position clear before seeing the order, which most analysts believe will not be published any earlier than August 2004. Verizon Wireless, which described the FCC's action as "bizarre," previously indicated it would legally challenge any order that awarded Nextel 1.9GHz spectrum without an auction but did not make such a commitment when the ruling was announced. Meanwhile, Powell acknowledged that the order faces several challenges before it can be implemented.
"Yes, we admit, there are risks in the action we take today," Powell said during the meeting. "But they seem to me to pale in comparison to the risks that our first responders face each and every day. "This crystal-clear fact demands that the government rise above the normal battles of commercial self-interests and simply find a solution. An enormous amount of time and commitment has been spent on valuations; the nickel and diming of what things are worth. But you cannot put a dollar value on the life of the men and women who wear the shield."
Audioscience adopted Cobranet-enabled ICs in response to the broadcast industry's move to audio-over-Ethernet. Cobranet technology from Cirrus Logic is used to distribute uncompressed, real-time, digital audio over a fast Ethernet network.
Entercom Accelerates IBOC Rollout
Bala Cynwyd, PA - Aug 3, 2004 - Entercom has announced plans to accelerate the rollout of digital broadcasting on nearly all of its radio stations. Entercom has already commenced HD Radio broadcasts in Boston and Seattle. Service launches are expected in Denver and Portland in the next few months. Entercom’s digital radio plans include upgrading 80 percent of its stations over the next four years.
Entercom is the nation's fourth largest radio broadcaster, operating stations in Boston, Seattle, Denver, Portland, Sacramento, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Norfolk, VA, Buffalo, NY, Memphis, TN, Providence, RI, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Rochester, NY, Madison, WI, Wichita, KS, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, OH, Gainesville/Ocala, FL, and Longview/Kelso, WA.
TC Electronic Adds Midwest Rep
Westlake Village, CA - Jul 30, 2004 – Communication Resources Inc. (CRI) will represent TC Electronic in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and southern Illinois. CRI is an independent manufacturer's rep firm. It will represent all five lines distributed by TC: TC Electronic, TC-Helicon, Dynaudio Acoustics, Tube-Tech and Lab.gruppen.
CRI specializes in pro audio, audio visual, commercial system integration, sound reinforcement and music retail markets.
Audio-Technica Adds Stover as Territory Manager
Nashville, TN - Jul 23, 2004 - Audio-Technica U.S. has named Scott Stover as its newest territory manager. Stover will take over the position previously held by Clayton Doty, who has accepted a place within Audio-Technica's expanding marketing department.
Heading up the Rocky Mountain territories of Arizona, Montana and New Mexico, along with Southern California and Canada, Stover will be responsible for creating and implementing plans to maximize brand awareness and market interest. This will be accomplished through direct, regular interaction with Audio-Technica dealers and floor salesmen, including the creation of training programs and product promotions tailored to achieving the company’s key objectives.
Stover previously worked on his own as the founder of Stover Productions, a specialized systems contractor, for more than a decade. His additional experience ranges from a formal education in broadcast engineering, to work as an independent sales rep, as well as a regional operations manager at Markey’s Audio Visual.
Daking Ships Four-channel Mic Pre
Wilmington, DE - Aug 3, 2004 - The new Daking Mic-Pre IV is now shipping. This unit features Class A preamplifiers in a single rack space unit with an outboard power supply. Configured for four microphone inputs or four line inputs from XLR/TRS Neutrik combo jacks on the back, plus four line inputs (+10 to -50) or 1/4" hi-z instrument inputs on the front, the Mic-Pre IV uses all discrete Class A circuitry with transformer-balanced inputs and outputs.
All Daking equipment can now be ordered directly from Transaudio Group at 702-365-5155 or www.transaudioelite.com.
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- FCC Tees Up Some Late-Summer Business
- What’s “Next” for Radio?
- Field Report: JBL LSR308
- Tech Tips: How To Be in Two Places at Once