Radio Currents Online - Dec 27, 2004 - Jan 2, 2005


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Radio technology news updated as it happens.


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News

KSON Tower Partially Felled by Wind
San Diego - Dec 29, 2004 - According to the CGC Communicator #667, roughly the upper half of the KSON-AM self-supporting tower collapsed in heavy winds at about 1:30 a.m. today. The tower site is located a few miles south of downtown San Diego next to I-5.

Some of the falling debris reportedly landed on I-5, while other parts landed in an automobile impound yard at the base of the tower. A considerable amount of the tower simply bent over and did not fall to the ground.

The FCC CDBS lists the tower as being 442 feet tall. The Associated Press reports that about 200 feet of the top section fell.

In addition to 1240 KSON, the tower also supported antennas for KURS-AM 1040 and KBNT-CA channel 17, a Class A LPTV facility. The channel 17 transmitter feeds channel 62 on Mt. Soledad, which in turn feeds channel 49 on San Marcos Mountain, so these LPTV stations are dark as well. The tower failure may have also taken down the emergency antenna for KSON-FM (this point remains unverified); however, the main KSON-FM antenna is located elsewhere and was not affected by the incident.

Images of the tower are available at SignOnSanDiego.com at these links:
Image 1 Image 2 Image 3 Image 4 Image 5


FCC Declines Attempt to Regulate Pay Media
Washington - Dec 23, 2004 - Though legal analysts say it would violate the U.S. Constitution, some broadcasters -- stung by the FCC's recent "indecency" initiative -- have been urging the commission to regulate the content of pay media such as cable television and satellite radio.

In a pre-holiday letter, the FCC formally denied the request of a broadcaster who is unhappy with radio jock Howard Stern's public threats to "destroy" over-the-air radio by moving his popular show to Sirius satellite radio where he is free to say anything he pleases on the air.

FCC Media Bureau Chief Ken Ferree said in a one-page letter that there is no basis for the FCC to revisit its precedent to exempt subscription-based media services from oversight for indecent content. That precedent, he noted, is supported by existing case law.

Saul Levine, president of Mount Wilson FM Broadcasters of Los Angeles, a commercial radio station owner with three stations, wanted the FCC to launch a rulemaking to subject satellite broadcasters to the same indecency standards as terrestrial broadcasters.

Radio and television broadcasters have complained that the FCC's indecency provisions make it hard for them to compete with pay services. However, the courts have long ruled that subscription media enjoys protection against content regulation because subscribers pay to access the programming they prefer.


Business

WQZQ is First Nashville FM To Implement HD Radio
Quincy, IL - Dec 29, 2004 - Nashville's WQZQ-FM is on the air with a low-powered IBOC transmitter supplied by Broadcast Electronics. This is the first station in Nashville to begin HD Radio transmissions. The station is owned by the Cromwell Group, which owns 21 stations in addition to WQZQ.

Separate antennas spared the 100kW station the cost of replacing its main high-powered transmitter and enabled it to install the low-powered BE FMI 73 transmitter specifically for HD Radio. The station installed the 280W low-powered transmitter into an existing backup antenna in November.

Cromwell plans to convert 12 stations to IBOC over the next two years, all using low-powered transmitters to make the conversion.


Windows Media Derailed in Europe
Luxembourg - Dec 27, 2004 - A European court has ordered Microsoft to remove Windows Media Player from personal computers sold in Europe. The order takes effect immediately and must be done before the appeals procedure runs its full course, a process that could take years.

The ruling of the Luxembourg-based European Court of First Instance has huge implications for the company, because it forces Microsoft to divulge some trade secrets and produce a version of Windows without its digital Media Player. The ruling applies only to Europe, but it represents the first time since antitrust challenges to Microsoft began in the 1990s that the company will be forced to alter its bedrock business strategy of bundling its software products and features with Windows.

The commission ordered Microsoft to offer personal computer makers and consumers in Europe a stripped-down Windows with Microsoft's Media Player removed. The commission also told the company to license to competitors the technical information for Microsoft's software for server computers, which would give rivals equal footing. It also fined Microsoft 497 million Euros ($665.5 million). Microsoft had already deposited those funds in an escrow account.

The European sanctions were harsher than those imposed on Microsoft in the United States. As part of a settlement of a federal antitrust suit in 2001, the company had to alter some contract practices, but the remedies did not include unbundling any software from Windows.

Within hours of the ruling, Microsoft stated that it will comply and deliver a version of Windows without an integrated media player beginning in January. The "Reduced Media" editions of the Windows XP Home and Professional versions the operating system will be available only in Europe.

In addition to lacking a copy of Windows Media Player, the new versions of Windows won't be able to do things like play a CD or MP3 file or transfer music to a portable device, at least not without additional software from another company. Among the limited media features that will remain are the ability to play .WAV files using Sound Recorder as well as a moviemaking program that is separate from Windows Media Player.

The EU court ruling stated that the stripped version could not cost more than a full Windows install, however, the ruling did not say that the reduced version must cost less.


Sales Call
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  • Logan Broadcasting Corporation of Logan, WV, has purchased a Wheatstone D-4000 24/12 digital on-air radio console for its facility.
  • In January, KXLY Broadcasting Group will take delivery of a Wheatstone Generation 4 and Bridge Router system for its Spokane, WA, facility.
  • People

    Smyth Appointed Vice-chairman of RAB Board
    Irving, TX - Dec 27, 2004 - Greater Media CEO Peter Smyth has been elected as vice-chairman of the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) board of directors. He has actively served on the RAB board for the past five years. He will begin his newly elected duties on Jan.1, 2005.

    Smyth joined Greater Media in 1986 as general manager of WMJX-FM in Boston, and was appointed vice president/general manager the following year. He was subsequently promoted to the positions of senior vice president/regional general manager, group vice president of radio, and chief operating officer. In October 2000, Smyth was appointed to the position of president and chief operating officer, and in March 2002, was named as Greater Media's president and chief executive officer.

    He began his broadcasting career in 1977 as an account executive with WROR-FM in Boston, where he quickly attained the position of local sales manager. In 1978, Smyth was promoted to general sales manager, a responsibility he held for five years until RKO General, parent company of WROR, recruited him to direct the sales operations of its New York stations. Smyth served as general sales manager at WOR in New York until his departure in 1986 to work for Greater Media.

    In addition to serving on the Radio Advertising Bureau board of directors, Smyth has served on the board of directors of the National Association of Broadcasters, including serving as the chairman of its Spectrum Task Force. Smyth is also a member of the board of trustees of Emerson College and is a trustee and past president of the New England Media Association. Furthermore, he is a member of the board of directors of the Police Athletic League, has served on the board of directors of the United Way of Massachusetts and is a member of the Country Music Association.

    Smyth is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA.


    Internet Watch

    Texas DOT Adds Rest-stop WiFi
    Austin, TX - Dec 20, 2004 - A joint venture between the Texas Dept. of Transportation and Coach Connect, Road Connect will provide free, high-speed wireless Internet access at safety rest areas and Travel Information Centers across Texas. The move is part of a Texas DOT program designed to decrease driver fatigue by enticing travelers to make more frequent stops at safety rest areas. The Texas DOT hopes that travelers will access travel and safety information, as well as information about local area attractions, accommodations and dining.

    By October 2005, wireless access will be available at all 102 Texas safety rest areas. The newest wireless rest stop in Texas is on US 287 near Hedley and Quanah west of Amarillo. Service is already available at the Medina County safety rest area on US 90 East of San Antonio.

    The system is a commercial project of Coach Connect, who is installing the equipment. The service is free for three months, after which service will be available for a varying fee.


    Products

    MP3 Surround Set for Launch
    Erlangen, Germany - Dec 2, 2004 - Fraunhofer IIS, Thomson and Agere Systems have unveiled an MP3 Surround evaluation codec that is available for a free download. The technology enables 5.1-channel surround sound for a variety of applications.

    MP3 Surround supports multi-channel sound at bit-rates comparable to those currently used to encode stereo MP3 material, resulting in files half the size of common compressed surround formats. At the same time, the new format offers complete backward compatibility to any existing MP3 software and hardware devices.

    Immediate download access to the free MP3 Surround evaluation software, demo samples and detailed technology information is available at www.mp3surround-format.com.

    The evaluation period of the MP3 Surround encoder will expire on Dec. 31, 2005, while the Fraunhofer IIS player will continue to remain fully functional. The use of the software is allowed for personal and non-commercial purposes only. Professional licensing is available.



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