Radio Currents Online - Mar 03 - Mar 09, 2003

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Radio technology news updated as it happens.

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FCC Endures Debate On Ownership Limits

Michael K. Powell, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, presides over a hearing on competition between telephone companies last week. Photo: Matthew Cavanaugh, The Washington Post

Richmond, VA - Feb 28, 2003 - At the peak of attendance, nearly 200 people attended the FCC public hearing held on Feb. 27 in Richmond, VA. The agenda called for 22 people to make presentations before the Commission to help the FCC in its pending decision on broadcast ownership limits.

Many of the attendees openly support an ownership limit cap and feel that the rules are already too generous. Television group owners want to raise the limit beyond its current 35 percent of the national television audience and remove the restriction that bars a single owner from holding a newspaper and television or radio station in a single market. The typical opposition cry is that reduced restrictions will lead to more mergers and a few large companies controlling what people read, hear and watch. Representatives of newspapers and television networks disagreed, saying that decades-old ownership rules are outdated in today's world of satellite broadcasts, cable television and the Internet.

Both sides made their pleas to the Federal Communications Commission, which moved out of Washington for a day to get opinions on its review of six ownership rules. The FCC is expected to make its decision in May.


Arbitron and Nielsen Expand Agreement for Testing PPM

New York - Mar 4, 2003 - Arbitron and Nielsen Media Research have expanded their agreement to increase Nielsen's involvement in a joint research program to evaluate the Arbitron Portable People Meter (PPM).

The two companies are exploring the feasibility of using the PPM as a data collection tool for television audience measurement. Arbitron and Nielsen first announced an agreement in June 2000 to jointly test the PPM in Philadelphia. This latest agreement expands this relationship to include a number of research initiatives that will be supported, in part, by increasing the financial involvement and commitment of resources from Nielsen Media Research.

The two companies anticipate reporting initial results of these expanded tests by Fall of 2003.

BRS Media Marks Anniversary on Alternate Domains

San Francisco - Mar 4, 2003 - BRS Media's DotFM, the exclusive worldwide registry for Web addresses ending in .FM, marks its fifth anniversary in providing alternate domain name registration services. Since 1998, DotFM has made the unique .FM domain available to radio stations and other entities looking for a different identity.

On a non-exclusive basis, BRS Media also offers .AM top-level domains through its DotAM division. The company also registers domains for all other available domain extensions.

Are you wondering where the unique domain endings originated? Most two-letter ending are assigned to countries. These countries then offer the ending as a business venture. Some unique endings in use and their associated origins are:

.fm . . . Federated States of Micronesia
.am . . . Armenia
.tv . . . Tuvalu
.cd . . . Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire
.bz . . . Belize
.cc . . . Cocos (Keeling) Islands
.nu . . . Niue
.ws . . . Samoa

Emediatrade Provides Interface to Wicks

Reedsport, OR, and Atlanta - Mar 3, 2003 - Wicks Broadcast Solutions has contracted Emediatrade as its direct electronic data invoicing (EDI) interface with advertising agencies and media buyers using systems such as Adware, Datatech, Donovan Data Systems, Strata, and MRP Smartplus. Electronic invoicing has been watched with keen interest by radio stations for several years.

Wicks Invoice Express is used by 7,800 radio stations, and this agreement makes it possible for Wicks to offer its clients a new platform for electronic invoice delivery. For the broadcaster, Invoice Express Desk reduces paper, envelope, postage and labor expenses associated with printing documents, enabling invoicing within hours of the end of the broadcast month. For the agency, Invoice Express Desk provides machine-readable files enabling automatic reconciliation of invoices and eliminates labor costs and reduces margin of error. Invoices are received immediately.

Clear Channel Chicago and Cincinnati Go IBOC with Harris

Cincinnati - Mar 4, 2003 - Two Clear Channel radio stations in Chicago and one in Cincinnati will implement Ibiquity Digital's IBOC with products from Harris. The equipment, including the Harris Dexstar HD Radio AM/FM exciter and transmitters from the Harris Z line, will be used at WVAZ-FM Chicago, IL; WNUA-FM Chicago, IL; and WSAI-AM Cincinnati, OH.

Clear Channel has chosen a Z16HD transmitter from the Harris Z Platinum FM line for WVAZ and has upgraded WNUA's transmitter to a Z10HD. WVAZ and WSAI will receive a Dexstar HD AM/FM exciter.

Jeff Littlejohn, senior vice president of engineering for Clear Channel Radio, feels that the Harris FM solid-state transmitters had a decisive advantage in IBOC hybrid mode and that was the reason for the selection.


NAB Announces 2003 Engineering Achievement Award Recipients

Washington - Feb 28, 2003 - The National Association of Broadcasters has announced the winners of its Engineering Achievement Awards. The awards, first established in 1959, are given to industry leaders for significant contributions that have advanced broadcast engineering. The award winners will be honored at the Technology Luncheon, Wednesday, April 9 at NAB2003 in Las Vegas.

This year's recipients are John Reiser (radio) and Robert P. Eckert (television).

Radio Engineering Achievement Award Winner - John W. Reiser
John Reiser retired in 2000 as a senior broadcast engineer with the FCC's International Bureau. He played a significant role in many landmark rulings during his 39 years at the FCC, including the standardization of the FCC national program for broadcast station inspections in the 1970s, the 1976 revision of the broadcast rules and regulations and the reorganization of the Broadcast Bureau into what is now the Media Bureau. From 1986-2000, he served as the U.S. chairman of the technical study groups on broadcasting that participate in the standards and conference preparatory work of the International Telecommunications Union and represented the U.S. at numerous international meetings on broadcasting issues. For many years, his extensive knowledge of the FCC rules and hands-on experience and day-to-day contact with broadcast stations made him a critical resource to the industry in helping broadcasters comply with the FCC rules.

Television Engineering Achievement Award Winner - Robert P. Eckert
Robert Eckert is the Branch Chief-Electromagnetic Compatibility Division, Technical Analysis Branch of the Office of Engineering and Technology at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). He began his career with the FCC in 1980, specializing in matters relating to radio propagation prediction, spectrum efficiency, and frequency-assignment algorithms. For the past 15 years, his work at the FCC has been devoted to spectrum planning for advanced television. He investigated ways to assign digital TV channels within the current TV broadcast bands and constructed computer programs to evaluate the coverage and interference consequences of various digital TV (DTV) channel allotment tables. He was one of the principal architects of the original DTV channel allotment plan, and developed and implemented the FCC's channel selection algorithms that accommodated all television stations with a DTV channel assignment. His significant technical accomplishments have been instrumental in facilitating the DTV transition for the broadcast television service.

Internet Watch

BSI Launches Spanish Website

Eugene, OR - Mar 3, 2003 - Broadcast Software International (BSI) has debuted its Spanish-language website. The website mirrors the English website, including online ordering and product information. The Spanish edition was created to better serve the company's global client base.

The Spanish website follows the release of a Spanish-language Simian manual, and allows Spanish speaking users to access the information that was on the original website in English. BSI plans to release a multi-lingual version of Simian in the near future.


TC Works Ships Spark XL 2.7 with CD Burning

Westlake Village, CA - Mar 5, 2003 - Spark XL Version 2.7 of TC Works' audio processing application is now shipping. Spark XL 2.7 features direct CD-burning from inside Spark XL's play list. Track indexes may be activated or deactivated per region, allowing several regions to be used to create one track without rendering.

Spark XL 2.7 is the first version that supports only OS X. A Mac OS 9 version is still available, but it does not support the new features.

SBE Publishes Handbook for Radio Operators

Indianapolis - Mar 5, 2003 - The Society of Broadcast Engineers' Certification Committee has announced the publication of an important new book useful in training radio station board operators. The Certification Handbook for Radio Operators is designed to help board operators increase their knowledge of station operations by explaining standard practices and common procedures. It is available beginning this month from the Society's National Headquarters in Indianapolis and will also be found at the SBE's booth during the NAB Convention in Las Vegas, April 7 -10.

Radio board operators—that is anyone who takes operational responsibility of a radio station, including announcers—need to understand the inner workings of the radio station. This handbook will help operators learn more about the broadcasting business from the technical and business side. While it is designed for individuals just getting started in radio, the information is useful to anyone who pulls a shift behind the console.

The book covers FCC rules, technical layout of a typical station and the general responsibilities of a radio operator. In addition, an overview of station management structure and professional etiquette is presented. Other chapters cover station logs, the Emergency Alert System (EAS), safety requirements and operational procedures for trouble situations.

The Certification Handbook for Radio Operators was written for the SBE by Ron Bartlebaugh, CBNT, a 25-year radio veteran. Bartlebaugh is the director of engineering for public radio station WKSU-FM in Kent, OH, which owns and operates a network of four FM stations in northeast Ohio. Bartlebaugh also owns his own company that provides technical services to the broadcast industry. Bartlebaugh has earned the Certified Broadcast Networking Technician designation from the Society of Broadcast Engineers. He has regularly written articles for Radio magazine since 1997. He is also an active amateur radio operator (W8JPG) and a member of SBE Chapter 70 -Northeast Ohio, the Acoustical Society of America, the Audio Engineering Society and the National Systems Contractors Association.

Years ago, the FCC required all announcers to hold a third-class lLicense and later a restricted operator's permit. The SBE now offers a radio operator certification examination that covers much of the same information that the third-class license covered and provides a benchmark standard to gauge an individual's proficiency in station operations. Studying the information in the Certification Handbook for Radio Operators will prepare an operator to take the optional SBE certification test and earn the Certified Radio Operator (CRO) designation.

SBE Certification Committee Chairman, Chriss Scherer, CSRE, in announcing the publication's release said, "This new handbook and certification level fits perfectly with the SBE's established Program of Certification. The goal of the Certification Committee is to provide a standard metric of determining a person's skill and offer that person a method to gain the knowledge he or she needs whenever possible. The Certification Handbook for Radio Operators does both."

Larry Wilkins, CPBE, CBNT, chief engineer for Cumulus Radio in Montgomery, AL, says this about the new Certification Handbook for Radio Operators: "The new handbook gives a great overview of station layout and operation. The board operator doesn't have to know how it works, but why it's there and what it does. Every board operator should have a copy."

Professional board operators are a must in today's competitive radio station environment. Bartlebaugh writes, "The broadcast industry is fast-paced and requires the person who wishes to be a professional broadcaster to be properly informed and otherwise kept up-to-date with the policies, procedures and technologies that affect each and every broadcast station and its operators. Broadcasting is a learn-it-and-keep-learning-it business." This publication, from the professional organization for broadcast engineers, will help you meet your competitive challenges.

To order one or more copies, call the Society of Broadcast Engineers at 317-846-9000.

Omnia Makes New Omnia-6 Presets Available for Download

Cleveland - Mar 4, 2003 - Omnia-6fm on-air processor owners can download four new presets for their Omnias. The presets are available through the Omnia website at

The presets were designed by the Omnia team and based on input from Omnia users. The settings were designed for classical, jazz, talk and hit radio. A brief description of the new presets follows.

Classical2 provides a percieved louder sound on the air than the factory Classical preset. Medium and short-term program dynamics remain essentially untouched, while long-term dynamics are modified to substantially increase overall on-air loudness.

SmoothJazz was designed for use smooth jazz formats. It was designed to provide good on-air loudness while minimizing clipper-induced bass IM distortion on material that is easily prone to it, such as compositions heavy with saxophone and bass.

TalkNR was designed to minimize noise and artifacts that would otherwise be brought out by normal multiband settings.

Warm Contemp uses the multiband AGCs and limiters to build up competitive on-air loudness with less reliance on the clipper sections, resulting in an on-air sound that is competitive but lacks the artifacts normally associated with clipping.

Omnia Releases FM Analog/Digital Processor

Cleveland - Feb 28, 2003 - Omnia has introduced a product for stations making the transition to IBOC operation: the Omnia-6hdfm. The processor, part of the Omnia-6 family of processors, provides simultaneous outputs for analog and digital transmissions in one unit.

Omnia-6hdfm uses 96kHz, 24-bit sampling, which Omnia touts as the highest sampling rate of any broadcast processor. The processor provides a dual-output signal to deliver a processed signal for IBOC and analog transmissions. This simplifies set up for the radio station and also helps to create a seamless transition when a hybrid receiver blends from analog to digital or back. A split processing structure routes audio from the mixer section to separate, concurrent output stages for conventional FM and DAB. The IBOC section features a user-selectable frequency response, up to 20kHz. A specially designed final limiter conditions audio for the bit-reduced encoders used in IBOC systems, while the analog FM output signal receives distortion-controlled final limiting with pre-emphasis and 15kHz filtering.

An upgrade package is available to current Omnia6-fm owners. The upgrade includes new processing software and a back panel with added AES connections. The upgrade can be installed in the field.

Other Omnia-6hdfm features include a six-band limiter, five AGC bands with adjustable AGC crossovers and wideband AGC, and twin full-color active-matrix displays with integrated Dorrough Loudness Meters. The unit can be remotely controlled via Ethernet, serial or modem connection. Software updates can be added through a plug-in software architecture.

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